Every year, at the beginning of Spring in India, is the Holi Festival – A.K.A. an all-out paint war!
I arrived in India during the middle of the week-long celebration and I was delighted to be able to experience this once-in-a-lifetime festival.
Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, has a long tradition which lies deeply in the Hinduism (a religion that was born in India). During the festival, all 1.25 billion Indian people play outside and splash each other with neon bright paint colors. Every region of the country celebrates Holi.
I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. People chasing each other in the streets, fields, temples and buildings, armed with packets of dry powdered paint and splattering random people from head to toe in colors. It’s a free-for-all. It’s madness. And it’s really freaking fun!
The occurrence of Holi varies every year depending on the Hindu calendar, but it always happens at the end of Spring to signify good over evil, the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It’s a time for people to play with their friends, laugh, meet others and forgets about any of their worries.
Anyone and everyone is fair game in Holi, including your mother, your mailman and the strange folks on the street. Some people get so into it that they carry water guns spiked with paint or colored water-filled balloons and drench their friends and enemies.
In addition to the paint war, people gather to march on the streets while playing drums and singing traditional songs.
It’s almost like a festival + parade + concert + paint war at the same time.
The best part about Holi is the fact that everyone has a smile on their face, whether they are enjoying the company of their friends or chasing foes around the street. I’ve never seen any event that was this happy on such a big scale. It’s amazing.
But if you think Holi is already crazy, then just wait until you hear the next thing that I’m about to tell you…
Holi is by NO means a sober event.
Everyone gets intoxicated and high. (Yes, people get high in India).
Aside from smoking weed, Indian people enjoy taking this stuff called Bhang, which is regularly consumed by many during Holi. Bhang is a paste made up of cannabis leaves and mixed into drinks and sweets. Basically, it’s the same thing as eating an marijuana edible with THC and it gets your really, really, stoned for hours and hours.
So now, imagine this crazy all-out paint war and picture everyone stoned out of their minds. Sound crazy, doesn’t it?
Who knew that this kind of thing existed in India? I surely had no idea about it until I visited India for myself. Which is why traveling is just awesome.
My Experience During Holi:
I arrived in India the day after Holi began. Although the first day of Holi is known as the craziest, I still found myself in the thick of the war.
Different regions of India celebrate Holi differently, and the duration of the holiday depends on where you are. I happened to be in Goa, where they celebrate the festival for one week straight!
On my 2nd day in India, I was riding my motorbike along the beach and exploring new areas. In the distance, I came across a big field with people throwing paint all over each other. Even though I wasn’t dressed appropriately, I parked my bike and ran into the field all by myself.
It took me about .15 seconds to make local Indian friends after I was immediately slapped in the face with paint. I stood out like a sore thumb. Exactly like what you see in this photo.
Due to the heavy amounts of paint, I didn’t get any quality photos of the Holi madness that I was in, but I am sure that you can imagine what it is like.
All in all, Holi festival was an unforgettable experience and it was also a pleasant welcoming into India.
If you are planning a trip to India in the Spring, then you MUST plan it accordingly to experience Holi!
Have you ever been? What was your Holi experience?