Indian festivals are never boring. These folks they like to spice things up a little… In 3 words, Holi is: colored – powder – everywhere. I absolutely loved it.
So why do people start a powder war once a year?
Indians would come up with any reason to throw a party. Holi however, is quite important. This Hindu festival celebrates the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Everybody wants to wish you “Happy Holi”. Generally, they take a bit of powder and rub it on your face. But it get’s a bit wilder than that…
I’ve experienced it as a sort of color-guerilla. It’s you against everybody else. I was running around in the streets like a mad(wo)man. The craziness of it all is just mind blowing, it’s so much fun. It really confronted me with my own country’s customs. I suddenly felt like I belonged to the most boring nation on earth.
These are my survival tips to rock this festival
• Be prepared. Buy your armory in advance. I would advice to get a nice selection of different colored powders. Days before the festival stalls appear everywhere. The powder comes in small bags.
• Don’t wear your favorite outfit, (except if you have a strong passion for hand washing). The pictures are self-explanatory.
• Put your camera in a plastic bag. I left my decent camera at home and took a small one along. Climb on a rooftop if you want to take decent pictures. But be careful: even then you’ll be targeted by water bombs!
• Water is scarce in many parts of India, try to minimize your part in the water balloon games. Locals are getting more and more aware of this.
• Avoid swallowing water, unless you suffer from a severe constipation, which is rarely the case for tourists…
• Smaller towns are more fun. I think Udaipur is an ideal location. Some of you might know this city, as it’s the decor for the James Bond movie ‘Octopussy‘. The touristic centre is cosy and has numerous rooftop terraces overlooking the lake and the mountains.
Downside: hormonal boob grabbing
The only downside for me personally was the fact that Indian women don’t actively participate in the games. Female tourists don’t really question if it’s appropriate to participate. The morning was great fun, but during the afternoon a lot of men got drunk. The later, the merrier people got. Let’s say their hormones threw little testosterone festivals… Polite wishes, became overly-enthusiastic cuddles. This is NOT common in India. Men and women do not get the opportunity to cuddle in public spaces. They repeatedly grabbed my boobs, so i decided to call it a day.
I talked about this with some older men and they literally said: “Well, that’s the good thing about Holi: you get to touch the white women! (head wiggle)”. I can totally see this in perspective and it should not scare foreign girls. They don’t attack you or anything, you just need to be firm and assertive. During the afternoon i repeatedly stated: “No cuddles!”. 🙂
Where and When?
Not all regions celebrate this festival with as much fervor, so check where to go. The dates may vary a bit, but it always takes place in the end of February or early March. Google to check out the exact dates.