Every worldwide local should get color sprayed once in their lifetime. The most colorful festival across the globe, an unforgettable experience, will bring a smile to your face long after the dust settles. This guide will give you inside knowledge of how best to experience Holi Fest.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you ever catch yourself tired or bored with traveling, go to Holi. A celebration of spring, love, and new beginnings, it is a destination for those in need of another adventure. There is so much infectious joy in this simple festival, that no one can stay unmoved.
Any reason is a reason good one to party. This is especially true, when it reminds us of an important ancient legend, carrying a universal message. Instead of carrying heavy statues of suffering saints, India has a festival of dance full with clouds of colorful pigments. Call it a holy party or religion made cool.
Worldwide locals love this lively celebration because of its one-of-a-kind pictures, carefree laughter, and cultural background.
One of the most popular explanations states, that at the core of this playful celebration there is a dark story of murder. The legend explores the motives of a fight between good and evil.
According to a tale, King Hiranyakashipu, which translates to “dressed in gold”, was considered indestructible as he possessed five special immunities. These immunities were: he could not be killed by a human or animal, neither indoors or outdoors, neither at day or night, neither by projectile or handheld weapons, and not on land, water, or air. Hiranyakashipu started to believe he was God, and in a country that always had hundreds of deities, demanded that everybody praise just him.
It was his own son, Prahlada, a follower of Vishnu, that stood against him. The King attempted to kill the boy, but Prahlada was protected by Vishnu’s supernatural powers. Then, Vishnu took the form of Narasimha, at twilight. He led Hiranyakashipu to a doorstep, placed him on his lap, and then disemboweled the king with lion claws. The meaning behind the legend is that, even though the king, that tried to murder his own son, is gone, the fight between good and evil remains.
Today, Holi is a day to gather, play, laugh, rejoin and forgive. Known for its playful fights with colors, it actually is a two-day-long celebration of spring, love, vitality, and renewal.
Holi starts on the night of “burning of the demon” when people unite around the fire and pray for their internal evil to be burned to ashes. It is estimated that 30,000 bonfires are lit that night. Igniting the fire, marks the beginning of the New Year, providing new opportunities to reset broken relations, putting an end to conflicts, and purifying oneself from past negative energy. Once you are cleansed, it is time to get dirty!
The following morning, Rangwali Holi, the picturesque water and color fight begins. This is a time when everyone joins to play against one another. This could include friend or stranger, child or elder, rich or poor, man or woman. During the colonial times, commoners of all castes were allowed to throw color, even on the Emperor. There are no safe zones, as fun is allowed in the open streets, parks, and outside temples.
Worldwide Local Tip: Only dry powder is to be used, to smear each other’s faces, inside homes. It doesn’t take long for everyone to begin looking like a surreal, live painting. Traditionally, washable natural plant-based colors were used, such as turmeric, neem, dhak, and kumkum. Now, it is recommended that you not wear something that you are too attached to!
As with most festivals, there is music to be enjoyed! Groups carry drums, sing, and dance. It is a time for family, friends, and adversaries, alike. They all share, the mostly sweet delicacies such as coconut and banana pancakes, dried fruit stuffed dumplings, condensed milk jelly, rice pudding, and deep-fried chili ball. The mandatory drink, bhang, is made from cannabis and, yes, it is intoxicating. The 3,000-year-old, traditional grinding, and preparation of bhang is considered an art.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you overindulge in bhang, here are some tips to help fight the dreaded hangover. First, avoid painkillers, instead, take a warm bath or go for a walk. Make sure to drink lemon water or herbal tea. In addition, soak it up by eating some fibrous foods (whole grain bread, oats, berries, pears, melon, oranges, broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, nuts, seeds, or potatoes with skin).
It is so much fun, many countries that have nothing to do with the Hindu heritage, decide to have their own colorful events. You can now get color-sprayed in Italy, Poland, France, New Zealand, Ireland, Tunisia, Switzerland, Bosnia, and Herzegovina. These have included music festivals such as the Festival Of Colours Tour, which attracts around 20.000 visitors.
You can even run 5K in franchises such as The Color Run, where participants are saturated with the powder on checkpoints.
As much fun as these events are, true worldwide locals would not trade the real thing for a city party. Like every local custom, it is best celebrated in rural areas with friendly locals explaining to you the little nuances of the habits.