India    17.01.2013    Transindus

The most fun-filled of all India’s religious festivals, Holi attracts the most attention outside the country for its joyous and exuberant celebrations. A festival of togetherness, Holi rejoices in the eternal and divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha, marks the arrival of spring, and it's the one time of the year when India lets its hair down!

The ancient festival of Holi is when normal conventions fade, communities come together, strangers are befriended, and enmity is forgotten as it rekindles the spirit of life - so it's no surprise that it's celebrated with such enthusiasm. 

The festival can last up to 3 days in different places, with the bonfires on the first evening usually lit to represent the triumph of good over evil. People often take embers from these bonfires to add to their own fires at home. The next day, the liveliest, when everyone comes into town squares and streets to celebrate together in a riotous, fun-filled day, showing one another with coloured powders and water. No one is exempt from dousing, and everyone is coated in bright shades. There's plenty of singing and dancing throughout the day, making the atmosphere a true celebration.

It's important to remember that different places celebrate Holi slightly differently, so where you go can impact your experience. Below, we'll take a quick look at some of the best places to experience it.

So, what should you expect if you visit north India during Holi? Unless you spend the entire day inside, you can count on being coated in a lot of that colourful water and powder - and it does stick to both skin and clothing pretty steadfastly! So, ensure you wear clothes you don't mind getting stained - especially considering visitors are always a particular target.

The best way to experience Holi is to throw yourself into the spirit of things, join in with everyone else in flinging the powder and water, and be good-humoured about being covered in it. You're likely to see the water used in several different ways. Children, for instance, will often fill up water pistols to spray people with, while adults will sometimes throw whole bucketfuls of dyed water over friends and strangers alike.

Holi is also a great time to taste some delicious local food, with treats like gujiya (a sweet pastry filled with nuts and gentle sweet spice).

Where to celebrate 

The dates of Holi are determined by the Indian astrological calendar, but they generally fall around the European Easter vacations, making it a great time to visit India. The most significant place to celebrate Holi is Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. This city marks the festival with particularly spectacular celebrations, so it's one of the top places to visit.

An equally good option is Delhi. The capital city hosts extremely lively Holi festivities, and, of course, both before and after the festival, you can explore all of the city's famous attractions.