When we think about India we think about color: from deity-filled temples to rainbow-hued saris, India’s colors are vivid and supersaturated. Once a year, on 9-10 of March, there is the Hindi lunar month of Phalguna, event during which most of the country is dressed in colored powder.
Holi represents one of the world’s most immersive – and striking – travel experiences. If you feel brave enough to wander the streets when the powder starts flying, you’ll have the chance to dive into India’s captivating Hindu culture and feel, first hand, the fascinating sense of belief that makes this country tick.
Information about Holi
Holi marks the ultimate battle between good and evil (for Hindus)when the demoness Holika tried to murder her devout nephew, Prahlada, in a funeral pyre. Prahlada was saved from the flames through the power of devotion, but Vishnu ensured that Holika came to a fiery end. The first night of the Holi celebrations is marked by ceremonial fires, commemorating the legend.
Vishnu also took on Holika’s evil brother, Hiranyakashipu, who’d been granted special protection by Brahma. Vishnu assumed the form of Narasimha – half-man, half-lion – and disemboweled the demon, at dusk, on the threshold of his house, with his bare hands, neatly sidestepping all these caveats as Hiranyakashipu could not be killed by man or beast, indoors or outside, by day or night using any weapon.
This legend should be seen as a metaphor for how easily human beings succumb to vanity and greed. carvings of the disemboweling of Hiranyakashipu could be seen all over India. They represent a reminder to the faithful.
How it is Holi celebrated in India?
Nobody escapes when Holi comes around. As the country turns yellow, blue, red, green, pink and purple anyone who ventures into the streets gets doused with water and coloured powder. There’s a strong spiritual element to this technicolour free for all although, for visitors, it can all look a little like a playground paint fight.
Did you know that each of the colours tossed around has a powerful symbolism for Hindus? Blue represents the skin of Krishna, water, and spiritual growth. Green is the colour of virility, symbolising new life, and the forests where Rama spent his time in exile. Red is the colour of love, passion and fertility, hinting at the sindoor mark worn by married women. Yellow signifies the sun, and the robes of Vishnu. Pink represents compassion; purple hints at the mystery of the divine.
Safety for women
The festival, regrettably, has a reputation for sexual harassment because during this event a lot of alcohol is consumed. If you are a woman and you want to participate to this festival, you shouldn’t participate alone, it is better to have a male companion.
In order to minimise the risk of unwanted physical contact, local women often avoid the general melee at street level. You can minimise unwanted attention if you opt to celebrate Holi in a smaller city.
You can taste several dishes during the festival: gujiya (flaky pastries stuffed with milk curds and dried fruit) and malpua (sweet pancakes served with spiced, reduced condensed milk).
Did you ever participate to this festival in India? How was the atmosphere?