Wouldn’t it be nice if for a couple of days a year, we could forget about social convenience?
What if we could have a few drinks, go out in the streets, and get messy?
Maybe we could throw powders at passersby and not worry about any potential consequences.
If you agree with the statement above, consider having yourself a chaotic trip to India during the Holi festival.
Occurring annually, Holi has long been one of India’s most popular festivals. The Hindu holiday is celebrated throughout the nation, with each region initiating its own cultural twist. And far from being exclusive, everyone is welcome to come join the party.
As a celebration of good conquering evil, the roots of the festival are based around the survival of Prahlada and the vanquishing of demoness Holika. Holi is also a seasonal affair, bidding farewell to winter and welcoming the summer months.
Finding a Celebration
Your experience at the festival will depend largely on your Holi destination. India’s southern region will celebrate in a quaint and understated environment, Delhi provides a party atmosphere, and Mathura offers an experience that is both traditional and celebratory.
Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan
Located to the south of Delhi, Mathura stands out as the birthplace of Lord Krishna. As such, the city provides a warm atmosphere for a week of celebration during the springtime festival. It is here that you will experience dancing, singing, and of course, the excessive tossing of colored powders.
Each day of the festival is associated with a different temple, providing a fluid atmosphere and a constantly changing celebratory epicenter. To find the life of the party, one simply needs to listen for songs and follow the crowd. And for some guaranteed action, head towards Dwarkadheesh Temple, the city’s largest temple, which will be excessively decorated all week long.
A Sea of Color
By the time the festival’s third day rolls around, you won’t have a difficult time getting covered in colored powder. People on the streets are likely to cover you in a myriad of hues, while others will douse you in water, ensuring that your new skin tone won’t be going away anytime soon.
And just when you think you’ve had enough, it’s time to go over to Vrindavan, where the party will continue. The crowded streets will be lined with effervescent locals, engaged in a fierce chromatic battle. While the occasion is a joyous one, you might still find yourself seeking revenge on that one enthusiastic individual who just threw a handful of powder right in your face.
When To Go
As a lunar-based celebration, it’s best to check online each year for Holi’s dates. Despite this variability, the festival is bound to occur sometime in March.
Mathura’s March temperatures will range from lows of 55°F (13°C) to highs of 84°F (29°C). As the month is dry, you shouldn’t be expected the colors to wash off in the rain.
Getting There & Around
Trips towards Mathura are likely to start in Delhi, where visitors can catch a train (2-3 hours) right into the center of the city. As the region’s airport sees very few commercial flights, getting in by air isn’t a viable option.
- Mid-range accommodations: $30-70
- Meal: $2.50-5
- Beer: $1.30
- Wear clothing that you don’t mind ruining.
- Book accommodations well in advance, as there will be a massive influx of tourists.
- Celebrate Holi in Nepal if you can’t make it to India.
- Plan on getting rid of your colorful skin tone for the next couple days.
- Head out into the streets alone as a woman.
- Stay in Mathura. Catch a rickshaw the short distance over to Vrindavan.
- The celebration of Holi dates back to the 7th century.
- In addition to India, Holi is celebrated in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
- The festival has been featured in a number of Bollywood films, including the 1984 production, ‘Holi’.
Feature Image Credit: zosogis