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The Festival of Colors
Joyous, rainbow-colored Holi. Many festivals celebrate the arrival of spring across the world, but perhaps none as exuberant as the Hindu Festival of Colors. Next year, Holi takes place March 9, 2020 – March 10, 2020, so there's still time to book that plane ticket!
As winter officially comes to an end across India and Nepal, people take to the streets and throw colorful powders at one another during a giant celebration that also includes music, singing and dancing.
It symbolizes the arrival of spring. But it’s also connected to Hindu legends of the triumph of good or evil, love and forgiveness. On this day, there are no barriers between castes, between the young and old or between strangers and family.
Everyone comes together with a glorious sense of renewal — a sense of unity. And perhaps, even more than the brilliant colors, this is what makes Holi so beautiful.
Holi Without Borders
It’s easy to see why Holi is so beloved. Recently, this exuberant celebration has overflowed its borders and become popular in countries across the world. You can find people celebrating Holi across Europe, Africa, the United States and many other places.
I have celebrated Holi in the Mexican Caribbean. And it seems that 10K races with people hurling colored bags of powder at runners are popping up all over the place.
Apparently, people can’t get enough of color bombing each other maybe because we’re all hungry to embrace a sense of joy and togetherness. And that’s a beautiful and hopeful state of affairs.
Still, to celebrate Holi on a grand scale, nothing can replace a trip to its origins.
In India, business halts and major cities turn into a riot of color as people join in the festivities.
So how did this celebration begin?
The Origins of Holi
Holi is connected with various Hindu legends.
In India’s Braj region, Holi celebrates the divine love between Krishna and Radha, both major deities in Hinduism. Then Krishna despairs that his blue-skin will repulse his beloved, his mother encourages him to go to Radha and ask her to paint his face whatever color she liked. She does, and their mythical romantic journey begins.
Still enacted today, the playful ritual of face painting symbolizes love and acceptance.
Holi and The Holika Bonfire
The night before Holi people light bonfires to celebrate the burning of Holika.
Holika was the evil aunt of Prahlada, a devout worshipper of the god Vishnu. She lures the loyal Prahlada onto a pyre and lights it believing that her magical cape will protect her.
When the fire is lit, the cape wraps itself around Prahlada and Holika is burned instead. This legend symbolizes the triumph of good over evil and is also known as Little Holi.
Why Holi In India Should Be On Your Bucket List
With the now global popularity of Holi, you may wonder why going to the source is necessary. Here are a few reasons why celebrating this festival in its birthplace is worth the pilgrimage.
Joy on Massive Levels
In India, the celebration of Holi is not confined to a few hours. It is a massive two-day party that takes over entire cities.
Thousands of people take part in the festivities creating an electric atmosphere. Being swept up in that kind of energy will definitely make for an unforgettable experience.
Going to India for Holi will also give you a chance to learn about its history and culture at its very source.
Not just about throwing colors, there are many other traditions attached to this festival that will give a deeper meaning to your celebration.
Part of any cultural experience is the food people use to commemorate special events.
Dishes vary depending on what region of India your travel to, but anywhere you go, the authentic holiday food is sure to awaken your senses.
Togetherness Goes Global
In India you will be celebrating Holi with locals, as well as other travelers from around the world.
Dancing, singing and flinging colors at complete strangers will lend a special sense of international unity you may not find at home.
Improve International Relations One Color Bomb at a Time
With its free, childlike atmosphere Holi is the perfect excuse to overcome social barriers and make new friends from around the world.
Release Your Inner Child
In this festive atmosphere far from home and its responsibilities, you’ll find it easy to drop everything and embrace the fun of Holi.
So laugh, dance and play like a kid. It’s one giant playground.
A Feast for the Eyes
Obviously, the sheer spectacle of Holi alone is worth the trip. Vibrant colors rain down from everywhere, creating a world of beauty and magic. It’s a living palette. You’ll want to soak up with your eyes.
Oh, and then there are the photo ops. Not too shabby either.
Where To Celebrate Holi In India
There are many cities throughout India where you can experience the festival of Holi.
In Goa celebrations are held on the beach.
The city of Mathura is the birthplace of Krishna and Vrindavan is his childhood home. Extremely famous throughout the country, they attract tourists and pilgrims from around the world.
In Shantiniketan, students dress all in yellow and present folk dances and cultural events.
In Jaipur, the festival is kicked off with a giant parade with elaborately decorated elephants, camels and horses.
And in the major city of Mumbai, even Bollywood stars take part in the colorful event.
Each region has its own special customs. Before you take your journey, it’s worth doing a little background work to see what festival most appeals to you.
Holi: Food For The Soul
At the core of Holi is a sense of renewal, rejuvenation and love. A chance to put past mistakes behind you and begin again. A chance to forgive and forget. To open yourself to love.
Making a pilgrimage to celebrate Holi in India gives it a special sense of importance. As you dance, sing and fling colors with thousands of strangers, you may find yourself engulfed with an overwhelming sensation of joy.
And if you’re very lucky, it won’t wash off with all those brilliant shades. But instead remain with you, as a new and more colorful part of your soul.