Ever wondered why there’s a day dedicated to throwing coloured paint powders all over strangers in the street? And why everyone looks like they’re having the time of their lives? Here’s your guide to the Hindu festival of Holi, just in time for this year’s fun.
What is Holi?
Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that marks the end of the winter season and celebrates the upcoming spring. Its roots lay in the triumph of good over evil, honouring the defeat of a demoness named Holika in the face of Hindu God, Lord Vishnu.
The morning after Holika was burned on a huge bonfire for her evil spirit, spectators applied the ash from the fire to their foreheads, symbolising their triumph over evil. Eventually, the coloured powder that is so famous today began to be used instead.
How is Holi celebrated?
On the night before Holi, huge bonfires are lit to commemorate the burning if the demon Holika. This day is known as Holika Dahan, and people dance and sign around the fires.
The next day is all about letting loose and celebrating life. Coloured paint powders are playfully thrown and smeared all over each other’s faces, with plenty of water thrown in for good measure. People dance, have parties with their friends and family and eat a paste called bhang made from plants.
When is Holi celebrated?
Holi is celebrated every year in India on the day after the full moon in March. This year’s celebration falls on 24th March, with 2017’s Holi festival due to be celebrated on 13th March.
Where will you find celebrations?
Holi is most passionately enjoyed across India, with Mathura in Uttar Pradesh home to the biggest celebrations, as well as the rest of northern India. Of course these days, Holi celebrations have spread across the world and you’ll find festivals of colour everywhere from London to LA.
Top tips for Holi:
This is a festival all about enjoyment and simple pleasures. Expect to have coloured powder thrown everywhere, by everyone you see, with all social expectations thrown out of the window! If you take to the streets, be sure to wear old clothes that you don’t mind getting stained. It’s all part of the fun!
If you’re dreaming of heading to Holi, there’s never a more colourful or carefree time to visit India. Add it to your bucket list and you certainly won’t regret it.
Just remember to pick up some Indian rupees from us in store before your trip!