Holi Isn't the Only "Festival of Colors" in India

Article by: Chip Conley|@ChipConley

Thu February 14, 2013 | 00:00 AM

KM-2099-webWomen of color in every sense of that expression

The diverse and culturally vibrant nature of India blossoms in the way colors and textures both show up in every day life, but especially at festivals. Given that Kumbh Mela is the ultimate Indian festival, women carry large knapsacks on their heads from incredible distances to show off their colorful garments.

KM-2043-webI became a stalker of these two women and just wanted to lie down and have them wrap these shawls around me

t’s easy to get a little distracted by the vast visual canvas that’s available at a festival of this size. Often, I just wanted to start touching the fabrics these women were wearing and then my better manners would take hold.

KM-2132-webThe color contrasts can be striking

As showy and demonstrative as these wardrobes are, Hindu Indian women reminded me of Muslim women from the Middle East. Such humility and shyness. And, it’s rare to see a woman on her own without a collection of other women.

KM-2001-webIt’s hard to photograph individual women at Kumbh Mela but easier to capture them as a group although they often don’t look at the camera

KM-2337-webLove the spices in the foreground and the spicy colored wardrobes in the background

Indian men may wear much more simple colors – often saffron or white – but they know how to dress as well. Italians may get all the credit for style and fashion, but Indians deserve their fair honors as well. If you review some of the photos in my post on theFaces of Kumbh Mela, you’ll see that often the colors for men show up in their inventive cosmetics on their faces.

KM-1802-webWomen tend to have more fun with colors than men, although there are some men, like this guy, who know how to mix and match in a stylish manner

This last photo says it all. While the patchwork quilt of people and their colors is awesome, nature – in all of its glory – takes over at the end of the day in this most sacred place to bathe with a reminder that there’s a daily visual phenomenon at sunrise or sunset that can take your breath away.

DSC02177The ultimate color combination is the nightly sunset over the sacred Sangam where the two rivers come together