Photographer Amit Chand Documents the Colors of Holi

May 30, 2014

By Barbara Goldman

© Amit Chand

 The celebration and colors of Holi.

Photographer Amit Chand started his career in fashion and has now used that trained eye to create striking documentary wildlife, Lifestyle and fashion photography. Chand is based in Bangalore, India and brings his keen eye and love of people and lifestyle to  the celebration of native culture, religion and tradition.  After working 12 years for the fashion apparel industry in Bangalore, Chand gave up his career to pursue his true passion.  It has only been only a few months since he left that world, but he brings his great eye for style, color and incredible detail and wonder to all his work. His recent project features the celebration of  India’s high holiday, the spring festival of Holi, also known as the festival of colors or the festival of love. Either way, it is a fascinating treat for the eyes and all the senses. 

© Amit Chand/ Streets are dressed in colors for the celebration.

Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival popular with Hindus and non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia, celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox . Holi is celebrated in Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji and even in New York City.  It celebrates the coming of spring, the harvest, unity, joy, and a tale from the Bhagavad Gita.  It is traditional for everyone to celebrate the holiday by throwing vibrantly colored powder known as Holi Gulal at each other. In addition to the throwing of colored powder, great bonfires are lit in celebration of the miraculous escape of a young devotee of the god Vishnu. A demon tried to throw him into a fire, but he escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion.

The Holi holiday starts with a Holika Bonfire on the eve of Holi, where people gather, sing and dance and most of all play and chase each other with color. The colors come from a fabulous array of dry powders called Gulal and colored water.  Some of the people use water guns or water-filled balloons to create fantastic water fights where they spray each other with colors all in fun.  Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colors occur in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings.  One of the most exciting features of the celebration is that it closes the  gaps between social classes and brings  all people together.  Everyone is approachable.

© Amit Chand/ Drenched in colors and singing songs, the older generation teaches the celebratory traditions to the younger people.

Groups carry drums and musical instruments and go from place to place, singing and dancing.  Covered in these fabulous colors, people move and visit family, friends and even foe. It is a time to play, to laugh, chit-chat and share gossip and then partake of the special Holi delicacies, foods and drinks.

One of the special  Holi  foods is the  sweet gujhiya, made with dried whole milk powder and nut stuffing. Other preparations are dahi vada, which are fried balls of skinned and split white lentil preparations dipped in seasoned curd, puran poli  which is a cooked sweet yellow gram paste rolled up in a flattened  dough made of wheat flour and besan papri, a salty preparation of gram flour in flattened fried small pieces. The people of Southern India prepare exotic sweet rice preparations and a variety of fruit mixtures, along with cold beverages called Sherbets.
Chand photographed the Holi festival in the Braj region of India, where Lord Krishna grew up. Here Holi is celebrated in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Chand’s visual storytelling of Holi brings to life that love, the colors, devotion and absolute joy of the people.

© Amit Chand/ A devotee prays after the final ceremony.

You can see more work at Amit Chand’s work, where he captures magnificent wildlife, lifestyle,and documentary at his Facebook page