The Essence of Holi

Jun 12, 2018

Katie Diederichs

How the Photo was Taken

I used my Nikon D90 to take this photo. I did minimal edits in Photoshop to lighten some shadows, but left it as natural as possible.

Photo Location

I took this photo while celebrating Holi Hai in Mathura, India, a small town known as the birthplace of this colorful spring festival. It was taken in the afternoon of March 6, 2016 after I had spent the morning tossing colored powder and having it thrown back at me. Honestly, when I crossed paths with this woman, I was not having a good time. I was quite miserable, actually. I had been dodging the gropes and grabs of hundreds of men. While avoiding one man's smack on my rear, I fell waist-deep into smelly sewer water. "It's no wonder there aren't any women in the streets," I muttered to myself. I was pretty fed up with this festival that was supposed to celebrate happiness, and I darted into an alleyway behind a temple. It was then that I looked up and met eyes with this beautiful woman who radiated happiness and light. I smiled for the first time in a couple hours and she placed a pinch of red powder on my forehead, beaming the whole time. When she was done, I pointed to my camera asking wordlessly to take her photograph. She beamed even brighter, if that's possible, and nodded encouragingly. My camera was tricky to operate since I had wrapped it in layers of plastic and duct tape, but when I looked through the lens I knew this was how I wanted to remember this festival. This woman was my Holi Hai. I smiled and thanked her, and we parted ways forever. And as I walked away, a grin remained on my face.

About the Author

Katie Diederichs

In early 2014, Katie and her husband, Ben, quit their full-time jobs and set off on a three-month adventure in South America that never really ended. Along the way, she taught English in South Korea, worked on a remote farm in the Ecuadorian Andes, and trekked to Everest Base Camp. On her travels, Katie seeks good food, interesting culture, and adrenaline-pumping adventures. And whether she's in a remote village or a modern city, she always aim to travel ethically and leave a small footprint.

Website :

Twitter : @2WanderingSoles

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