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India

Holi, the Indian festival of colours

Holi Festival in India

Holi is sacred to Indians, Hindus in particular! From late February - late March, tourists and Indians arrive to celebrate the onset of Spring, armed with stacks of white clothes and coloured powders or water. You can't avoid Holi when its on and you can't avoid being showered! Trust me! So throw on clothes that you don't mind binning later and enjoy a trip to India by taking part in one of the country's biggest festivals! When, where and how?

Some tips for enjoying the best Holi festival ever!

Even though Holi is celebrated throughout the country, it remains most popular in northern India and is held around the spring equinox , between late February and late March. In 2017, it'll be celebrated from March 12th to March 13th. Above all, don't hesitate to ask the local Indians where the best place to go is. They'll be happy to advise you and may even invite you to tag along. What could be better? Rajasthan remains one of the top destinations for Holi celebrations, but Jaipur's also a great option - the festivities are huge and young Indians go wild throwing the chemical colours around...

If you wear contact lenses, remember to take them out or you might end up with really sore eyes. If you want to avoid lasting stains (yes, it happens!), you can try to protect yourself by applying water and oil resistant sun cream!

During Holi, stay on your guard. Pay attention to crowd movements, which have led to tragic accidents in India, and be wary that there may be a slightly higher risk of attack. It's wise to stay close to Indians you know.

In short, Holi is great, but some planning and precautions need to be taken into account.

What goes on during Holi

A fire is lit at the end of the first day to celebrate the cremation of Holika (the demoness after whom Holi is named). It's from day 2 that things really start to kick off: Indians and tourists of all ages dress in white and flock to the streets where they shower each other with colourful pigments and water! I was able to take part and have wonderful memories: as well as showering you in colours, they'll shower you with smiles, laughter, tales...a fanstastic way to enjoy the company of Indians. It's brilliant!

Holi is also celebrated over ten days in different villages. A village will be chosen according to a set of rules, based on the birth date and lives of Hindu deities.

On a culinary note, the speciality served, which Indians adore, is bhang thandai, a mixture of milk, almonds, cardamom, saffron, and...cannabis! Forewarned is forearmed!

Holi, a symbolic festival

The origins of Holi are in northern India, where it was celebrated before the start of the agricultural season. So it was a time to let it all out before the hard work began.

Today, Holi is primarily a Hindu celebration, held in honour of the god Krishna and his wife Radha. It celebrates the spring equinox, fertility, sexuality and the victory of good over evil. In other words Holi celebrates lots of things!

Three Indians celebrating Holi in style

The colours of the pigments that people throw have symbolic meanings: red for joy and love, orange for optimism, green for harmony and blue for vitality. So only good things!

You get the picture. If you organise a holiday in India during Holi, you'll have no regrets and you'll return home with colours and smiles etched in your memory!

Camille Veillard
6 contributions
Updated 20 April 2016
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