The festival of Holi is celebrated all over India, and this unique event is a cultural experience that you won’t soon forget. If you are visiting India during Holi, here is some information useful for enjoying this fun and chaotic religious festival:
What is Holi?
Holi is a religious spring festival which is celebrated by Hindus in India, as well as in Nepal and Pakistan. It is held at the commencement of the winter season, traditionally on the last full moon Phalguna, the lunar month which corresponds to February or March in our calendar. Holi will fall on a different day each year, depending on the cycles of the moon, so be sure to check the date before visiting.
The festive season of Holi lasts up to sixteen days, and the main day is celebrated by people gathering in the streets and throwing coloured powder and colour water at each other. This tradition comes from legends of Lord Krishna, a re-incarnation of Vishnu, who played pranks on young girls by covering them in bright colours. This joyous event is a huge and chaotic party where everyone ends up absolutely covered in many shades of bright and vibrant powdered pigment, looking like a rainbow!
On the eve of the festival, people light bonfires and say prayers. The bonfires are to remember young Prahlad and his miraculous escape after the Demoness Holika carried him into the fire. Prahlad was not burned by the fire because of his devotion to the god Vishnu.
What Do the Colours Mean?
While you are gleefully chucking brightly coloured powder at your friends in the middle of the Holi festivities, you might not realize that each colour has its own specific meaning. Green represents harmony, orange signifies faith in the future, blue stands for health, and red is symbolic of joy, passion and love.
Tips For Attending Holi
- There is no getting around it, you WILL end up with colours all over you. Don’t wear your nicest clean white shirt, as it is sure to get ruined. Wear old clothes that you don’t care about.
- To prevent the colour from staining your skin, rub coconut oil or hair oil in yourself beforehand.
- Keep your eyes and lips tightly closed when being attacked by people throwing colour, the dyes can sting your eyes.
- To wash the colours off at the end of the day, use lukewarm water and soap.
- You might want to wear a hat to protect your hair from being stained by hard-to-remove dyes.
- Many people like to enjoy copious amounts of alcohol and bhang (cannabis) during the festival, so watch out for rowdy inebriated partiers.
- When throwing colour at someone, it is customary to say “Bura na mano, Holi hai” which translates to “Please don’t be upset, it’s Holi!”
Enjoy the colourful tradition of the Holi Festival in India!
Jim Dean is a travel blogger who loves to write about things to do abroad, he also works for Etihad Airways who can offer flights to India