A trip to India is all about treating your senses to an extravaganza of sensations. Wild sounds, beautiful colours and exotic smells surround you, leaving you reeling and gasping for air – not to mention begging for more.
At no time of year is this more true than during the world-famous Holi Festival, which is celebrated annually during the month of February or March.
In 2015 the Holi Festival will be taking place on March 6, coinciding with the Pooranmashi (or Full Moon). Whether you’re planning on visiting the festival this year or taking a trip in years to come, here’s everything you need to know about the Holi Festival to ensure you have an unforgettable experience.
What is the Holi Festival?
The Holi Festival is an ancient Hindu celebration that is primarily celebrated throughout South Asia. It is often known as the festival of colours (although some people also refer to it as the festival of love) and is designed to celebrate the arrival of spring and the victory of everything that is good, warm and beautiful over the cold, dark evil.
According to Hindu legend, Holi Festival is celebrated to mark the death of the ancient demoness Holika. The sister of demon king Hiranyakashipu, Holika was burned in a bonfire in a failed attempt to kill her nephew Prahlada, who was a loyal follower of the Hindu god Vishnu.
Aside from the religious significance, Holi Festival is also seen as a day of community spirit in which people come together to eat, drink and be merry.
How is Holi Festival celebrated?
So, how do you celebrate Holi Festival? Well, by getting good and messy of course.
Every year, people spend the night before Holi Festival singing and laughing around the bonfire. These fires aren’t just for decoration however – they’re also used to ‘burn’ evil spirits, and some consider the ashes left over from Holi bonfires to be good luck.
The next day is when things get a bit crazy, as everyone in the town shuts up shop and instead spends the day throwing coloured water and smearing colored powders all over themselves and others. According to legend, this trend was started by Lord Krishna, who was known for being cheeky and mischievous. By the time night falls, everyone is a kaleidoscope of beautiful shades.
Holi Festival is a favourite for travellers and offers a great opportunity to let your inhibitions go and have a great time in a foreign land. Just remember to leave your expensive gadgets and clothes in the hotel room, and to pack your travel insurance policy.
Where can I celebrate Holi Festival?
The biggest and more memorable Holi Festival celebrations take place in India, of course. However, you no longer need to travel to the subcontinent to enjoy Holi, as this festival has spread all over the world and is even celebrated right here in Australia (though not quote on the scale usually seen in South Asia).
For Sydneysiders, we recommend heading down to Darling Harbour, where Holi festivities have been taking place annually for more than a decade.
One fantastic event that has grown out of the Holi Festival is the world famous Color Run – AKA “The Happiest 5k on the Planet”. Color Runs will be taking place across Australia this year, in cities such as Wollongong, Newcastle and Brisbane. This is a great option if you want to celebrate Holi while getting some good exercise as well!
How do you plan on celebrating Holi Festival this year?