The rush of colors fills the air, as the streets turn into shades of a rainbow. Kids, elderly, tourists and locals, everyone rushes to the streets armed with gulal, water guns, and water balloons. Over at Vrindavan flowers are thrown, while in Purulia the folk dances commence. Yet, one thing is chanted everywhere, “Bura Na Mano Holi Hai” (don’t feel bad its Holi). The festival of colors is right around the corner, as people have already started buying their Holi gear. While Holi is all about spreading joy and cheer, it can get quite overwhelming for a tourist. From strangers throwing colors to huge crowds that block the streets, Holi can get a little much for tourists who are experiencing their first Holi.
So, to ease this process, here are a few tips that a tourist should keep in mind if they are visiting India during Holi.
Even though Holi can get quite overwhelming, there is no point in changing your entire travel itinerary. Holi is a pan Indian festival and while there are variations in each region, the frenzy and fun remain the same. You can stick to your old itinerary and you will have just as much fun. Just make sure to enjoy the festival in that region in the best way possible. Preferably, do not plan any sightseeing on that day, as you are bound to get colors on you.
While in most photos and movies you will find people wearing pristine white dresses, it is not mandatory to do so. You can wear any color, just make sure they are old. Your clothes are bound to get dirty to a point that they will never be the same again. So make sure you don’t wear anything too nice or new for Holi.
You should wear clothes that are loose and comfortable, like tees, or shorts. Remember, this festival is not about looking your best, but about having the most fun.
This is an extreme thing to remember when you go out to play Holi in India. It is quintessential to protect your skin and hair from the synthetic colors that you will be splashed with.
The best way to do this is by applying a lot, and by which we mean, a lot of baby oil or olive oil in your hair and on your skin. Whichever part of the skin will be exposed just cover it up with baby oil. Every part of your skin and Jair should be dripped with baby oil to prevent rashes and hair damage.
You should also cover yourself up as much as possible, wear full sleeve clothes and full pants to ensure enough protection. You should also cover your eyes with sunglasses, as colors can come from anywhere.
Holi is a huge festival in India, so you can enjoy it in pretty much in every state. You can head off to Purulia for some folk-inspired Holi, or play with flowers in Mathura. Just choose the kind of Holi you want to play and head off. India has some beautiful ways of celebrating Holi, and you can witness all the splendour of this festivity in all different forms and shapes in the various states of India.
While most people believe that Holi is all about splashing colors and putting colors on each other, that is not true. While it is essentially a war with colors, there is much more to it. In different states, you will find other elements to it, like cultural performances, folk songs, and even festivals laden with sweets and other snacks. Usually, Holi in Mumbai is dotted with celebrity performances, whereas in Mathura you can watch the entire history and legend of Lord Krishna unfold.
Holi is also about burning the effigy of the evil Holika (a mythical creature), and a way to welcome well over evil. In the state of Manipur among others, Holi also ushers the summer season while bidding adieu to the winter months.
If you wish to play Holi as well, then make sure you have powdered colors (gulal) and some water balloons for added fun. Some people also use water guns to heighten the level of adrenaline and fun.
The refreshing and popular Holi favourite is a drink called Bhang. Bhang is essentially made up of milk, however addictive substances are also put in the drink. You must be extra careful, since you might get a huge hit after an hour of drinking it. It gives one the ‘high’, but you must consume it in limited quantities. It is quite a usual and common thing during Holi so make sure you are careful and stay away from anyone who looks a little intoxicated.
While most people travel in groups to enjoy this festival of colors, it can get quite a lot for someone travelling alone, especially if you are a solo female traveller. Holi is a festival wherein strangers will come and touch you to put colours on you. At times this also leads to harassment, which must not be okay.
To be on the safer side, make sure you are travelling with a group, or you find fellow female travellers who can come with you for am exciting Holi celebration. You can try to make friends in your place accommodation and go with them for added safety. You should also be aware of your nearest police station and avoid any food or drinks from strangers.
The most important thing to remember during Holi is to keep an open mind while also standing firm on your personal preferences. Holi is much more than just putting colour, it is about enjoying while respecting everyone. It is about embracing the love and joy that is in the air and also ushering the good over evil.