Holi Festival India has been described in many ways… Some call it an explosive frenzy of color or a wildly entertaining ride, but not for those who are afraid of being painted in colors and getting wet. To some people it is exhilarating & uplifting feeling and to others it is a spiritual experience where you feel connected with the God… And to people like me it’s a way to say good-bye to the chilly winters and get rid of those thick, heavy woolen clothes.
No matter what you feel on the Holi day, it’s the festival which unites everyone including the foreign travelers visiting India during Holi. The Holi festival India is top favorite with travelers, as colorful powder and water are thrown on everyone along with a local intoxicating drink Bhang — made from cannabis –which is consumed while people dance, party, and drench each other with water and colored powders.
India’s exciting Holi or “Festival of Colors” is based on the Hindu calendar and falls on the full moon day each year, usually at the end of February or early March. Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil, and commemorates the burning of the demoness Holika. The festival also signifies the end of Winter and hopes for the upcoming spring harvest. Large bonfires are set on the eve of Holi to burn away evil spirits.
The colorful Holi originated as an agricultural festival, ushering in the blooming season. Holi, like all other Indian festivals, also has its fair share of mythological significance. And what is most amazing is people from different parts of India have their own favorite names for this festival and their own mythological tale for the significance of Holi.
The best places to celebrate Holi Festival India really depend on what kind of experience you want to have. You’ll find activities taking place almost all over India, but they range from traditional temple rituals to modern parties with DJs, bhang, and plenty of colors. See which of these places, with totally different Holi festival celebrations, appeal to you the most.
Barsana: Holi with Sticks
Indian men don’t always dominate the home. The women of Barsana village near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh beat up men from neighboring Nandgaon village with sticks, in what’s known as Lathmar Holi celebrations. Lathmar Holi takes place around a week before the main day of Holi. The following day, the celebrations move to Nandgaon village. It’s worth getting to Barsana a couple of days in advance of Lathmar Holi so that you can also experience Laddoo Holi festivities there. Sweets are thrown around and spiritual songs related to Radha and Krishna are sung.
Mathura and Vrindavan: Traditional Holi
Holi celebrations get underway on Vasant Panchami (end of winter), 40 days before the main Holi day, in the temple towns of Mathura and Vrindavan, four hours from Delhi. Mathura is where Lord Krishna was born, while Vrindavan was where he spent his childhood. You can watch the famous flower Holi at temples in the city where instead of colors only flowers are used.
Delhi: Modern Wet and Wild Holi
Holi tends to be an uncontrolled affair in Delhi. No matter which area you are living in Delhi, just a short walk out on the road will make you all wet with colors. Be in Delhi if you wish to experience the crazy Holi.
Shantiniketan, West Bengal: Cultural Holi
The celebration of Holi as Spring Festival in Shantiniketan was started by famous Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Vasanta Utsav (Spring Festival) has become a cherished part of Bengali history and culture, and it attracts numerous foreign tourists. Usually celebrated one day before the actual Holi day.
Earlier an elephant festival used to start off Holi celebrations in Jaipur every year on Holi eve. Now days due to strong protest from animal rights groups, elephants are banned from any activity. In place of elephant festival, folk dances and other cultural performances are held in the big stadium.
Avoid South India for Holi
If you’re looking forward to a happening Holi full of colors and water, completely avoid going to South India on the Holi dates. In the south, the festival is quite unpopular and limited to religious temple rites.
Tips for Safe Holi:
Holi is not the time or place to wear your best clothes; leave your expensive camera in the hotel!
Oil Your Body Well
Don’t step out of your room without applying generous layers of oil on your hair and exposed body. Apply mustard, castor or coconut oil on your body and hair and add lemon in the oil if you have dandruff.
A sunscreen lotion and a moisturizer would make you color proof and it will be lot easier to wash off the colors after Holi.
Apply nail polish, as this would prevent the colours from entering your nails and spoiling them.
Applying a lip balm makes sure your lips do not get filled with colors.
What to Wear on Holi
Wear cotton clothes, which are dark and stay away from synthetic as they stick to the body when wet.
Avoid wearing denim jeans, as denims tend to get heavy when they get wet. Save your skin by covering your body well with long sleeved and long pants.
Avoid wearing contact lenses while playing holi. Instead go for spectacles or cheap sun glasses.
On the last note, here is a small video showing a popular Holi song from a Bollywood movie.
This is exactly how we say good-bye to the winters…