As spring approaches, breaks for travel and adventure come with it. Those looking for a trip full of color and springtime celebration can find it at the Holi Festival in India.
The Meaning of Holi
One of the most celebrated holidays in India, Holi honors the triumph of good over evil in the Hindu religion. It is also meant to show thanks for the harvest season. Color symbolizes love on Holi, and people race to be the first to throw it on one another. It is also called the ‘festival of love’ by some, as the day of celebration unites people despite any negative feelings they may have for one another.
The Holi Festival takes place every year in March, starting on the day after a full moon. Holika Dahan, the tradition of lighting bonfires, takes place on the eve of Holi. This ritual burning celebrates the victory of good over evil in Hindu legend. On this evening, people dance and sing together around the fires. Some people even take embers home to kindle their own fires, hoping to burn away evil.
The Holi Festival is celebrated all throughout India, and has even spread to other parts of the world. In New Delhi, there are several different types of Holi Festivals. From the traditional color war, to full blown music festivals, each celebration honors the cultural meaning behind the holiday.
The holy city of Mathura is known as the birth city of Lord Krishna and doesn’t take that title lightly. It hosts boisterous ceremonies and each temple is extravagantly decorated.
Rural towns in India have more folk-based traditions compared to the bigger cities. In Bihar, people throw both colorful powders and mud. And in Goa, they celebrate their version of Holi which is called Shigmotsav (Shigmo).
What To Expect
Throughout the country, colorful powders and water balloons are thrown into the air and at each other by locals and visitors alike. The parties start early in the morning, so it is best to hit the streets early before things get too rowdy. Treats and delicacies are a big part of the Holi Festival in India. Bhang, a cannabis paste, is commonly consumed which can lead to an intoxicated crowd as the day goes on.
A vibrant cloud of powder in the air is a beautiful sight, but visitors may want to bring some kind of eye protection. While Holi is a wonderful, cultural festivity, it is still a large gathering of people in a public place. For that reason, safety should be practiced accordingly. If celebrating in bigger cities, many hotels or tour companies offer smaller and safer Holi parties later in the day.
A Sustainable Holi
While Holi is known for the beautiful fun of throwing colors, it is important to recognize the environmental impact. Many of the powders used in commercialized areas are made from toxic chemicals and can be harmful to participants. As well as the earth.
Organizations in India are trying to address this responsibly. Many of them encourage visitors to make their own Holi colors or purchase locally made colors with natural ingredients.