Spain, and especially Andalucia, is well known for its colourful festivals, with clothes and adornments in a range of bright shades.
One visually arresting festival I recently attended here in Seville has its roots in a far-away land – the Festival of Colors. This is an event which is inspired by the ancient Hindu festival of Holi, celebrating the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil; people take part all over India and beyond. The first Festival of Colors in Spain also took place in Andalucia, at the Playa de los Lances in Tarifa, last September.
So what happens at the Festival of Colors? The DJ plays music, the people dance, and every hour, after a countdown, they all throw lots of coloured paint (two euros per pack, or three for five euros) up into the air, and at each other. The powder comes in seven colours: pink, purple, orange, yellow, green, red and blue.
Most people wear white tops and shorts to the event, so that they end up with the full rainbow effect all over their clothes, face and hair. This event took place at the Auditorio Rocio Jurado in the Isla Cartuja, a small, charmless stadium built for the Expo 92. The sun was merciless that afternoon, and some people (like me) took advantange of the areas of shade available from the supporting structure.
The event supports a charity which has various community projects in one of the most disadvantaged areas of India – Andhra Pradesh. Groups of women and disabled people work in projects to make handicrafts, some of which were on sale at the Fundacion Vicente Ferrer stall at the festival. To continue the Indian theme, a stall was selling Indian snacks, such as samosas, with delicious home-made lemonade (nimbu sharbat).
Prior to the event, 2500 tickets had been sold, with more partygoers expected to buy their tickets at the door. The gates opened at 1pm, with the first organised powder throwing just after 4pm. Unfortunately, knowing the typical Spanish attitude to timing, I was exploring the stadium, looking for a way to gain access to a balcony above the main area which would have provided a perfect vantage point to capture the moment on camera, when I heard the countdown but couldn’t get there in time. I had to leave shortly afterwards, so I never got “the shot”.
The festival carried on till the small hours, with the stadium filling up as more people arrived, and more powder making colourful clouds in the air. Finally at 4am it was time for the 2800 partygoers to end their rainbow experience.
The next Festival of Colors will take place in Tarifa on 23 August this year.