Holi - The festival of colour!
It goes without saying that the following pictures truly speak for themselves – Holi 2020 was single-handedly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had – in a world that can sometimes feel very grey this colour filled day spread beams onto people's faces lasting from sunrise to sundown. In all the times I've traveled to India I have always just missed out on Holi and I was not going to miss out again!
Holi is a Hindu spring festival celebrated in the Indian subcontinent, also known as the "festival of colours" or the "festival of love" The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships.
Along with fellow flashpacker Binny we sat down and planned properly this is key in any travel – to make the most of your time and to not miss out on certain calendar dates… always do your research, more planning ahead means booking ahead that can save a small fortune.
Rajasthan acts as the epicenter of the intense and frenzied Holi action, although the Festival of Colors is celebrated throughout India, the north is where those colorful faces and clouds of powder take place. In celebrating Holi in full, various aspects of the celebrations occur over several days. Looking at the diary some work in Mumbai took me up to Monday 9th March and Holi festivities start that evening - we got a flight booked that landed at sunset on the evening of Holika Dahan the night before the Festival of colour really begins.
Holika Dahan is a ceremony which takes place the evening before Holi, it involves households all over the country purging darkness and negativity from their homes, they take such items into the streets and burn them in bonfires. As I dropped my case off at our homestay I left Binny to order room service (serious travel fatigue, or was it just a hangover?) I sped off across town on an Uber Bike to meet with pal Chris for dinner – The smell of open fires raged from the streets, pops of colour began to emerge…
The day of colour
The day began early as the party began at our ticketed event at 10:00am and we were up and raring to go, both dressed head to toe in white linen and cotton (could we have looked anymore like tourists) we stepped out from the homestay and literally withing five meters of the gate our first puff of powder paint adorned our crisp white outfits... we beamed and two uber bikes pulled up perfectly on time. Toots of horns and cheers of enthusiastic local filled the air, pavements sporadically dappled with colour began to emerge and we were in our element!
It's worth mentioning some tips… while the streets transform into a riot of colour and everyone is in full-on party mode, except for some serious enthusiasm. People will pull up on scooters jump off and with powder paint in their hands smear your cheeks and neck in colour to bless you – it’s a day when you cant hold on to your personal space to say the least – be prepared to embrace this, people love to hug and touch and at first, it can be a little overwhelming but it really is what it's all about. People love to take photos with each other and it can get quite intense so go with the flow, but be firm, don’t be afraid to say that your done and need to move on, if we hadn’t have managed to keep a little control I don’t think we would have ever made it to our party!
Like any kind of festival or celebration, over the years it becomes a tourist mecca and many Holi parties are popping up across the city – you can buy a ticket for around 1000rs/ £10.00 pp for such events and the cost goes towards vouchers you can redeem against food and drink. Holi Fest where we attended had a great set up – a central bar served alcohol and then around the edge pop up stalls served an array of street food delights and barrels of chai were on tap for when you needed to take stock for five. If you're thinking about including Holi in your trip and going to fully immerse yourself in the festivities I strongly recommend a ticketed event – the party was from 10:00 – 18:00 and it broke the day up from wandering the streets, we managed to boogie, eat and have a tipple and then left around 16:00pm to get back to the local festivities.
Seven of us piling into a Tuk-tuk we revved through town to get to the gated Pink City - a few beers in we were in full party mode dancing with people in the streets, children smiling through faces of psychedelic colour, it was truly fantastic. We got dropped off at the famous Hawa Mahal - a famous palace frontage adorned with no less than 953 windows. The atmosphere was electric and taking a break for a well earned G&T across the road the sun set on what I can firmly say is the most colorful party on earth!