Bollywood music is blaring in the background. You walk into a field of people. Before you can reach your hand into your rectangular plastic packet and come up with a game plan, your face is blinded with three different colors.
As a photographer, I search for light and color. So when I learned about this festival every year in India that involves throwing colored pigment at each other, I knew I would be in the largest color war that existed on the planet and I wanted to be on the front lines for it.
From one perspective, the undulating and gyrating masses (thousands upon thousands at any given time and throughout the weekend in March of this year) could have been observed at any number of places: a rock concert, a dance club, or a college party.
If Bob Marley's message of "one love" was an anthem for a previous generation, then Red Baraat's "pluralism" is one for a technologically interconnected world still severely separated by issues like race and economic inequality.
Indian culture is pretty damn ancient and the variety of what it has to offer is quite mind-boggling. The festival of Diwali has just gone by for example, with its lights, colors, fireworks and delightful cuisine.
The Festival of Colors, known as Holi, is now celebrated across American cities and towns from Boston to Los Angeles, from Salt Lake City to Houston. While the festival originates in the religious tradition of Hinduism, all parts of society are welcomed regardless of spiritual affiliation.
There's no denying that we all enjoy the universals of celebrations -- the good food, the family members getting together and sharing embarrassing stories -- but a holiday with different customs can be unpleasant without some effort to be a part of it.
There seems to be something primal, maybe instinctive, that makes us want to dress up this time of year. Is it the longer days making us feel frisky? Or do we just need a little taste of good times to get us through the spiritually serious times to come?