Holi is not India’s biggest festival, but it’s the most colourful — and probably the one most beloved by foreigners. Many people have “experience Holi in India” on their bucket lists, and for good reason. How often do adults get to throw colours and squirt one another with water guns loaded with coloured water? And … for those who are more adventurous than me … there is the bhang lassi, too.
Holi does not happen on a fixed date each year; it happens on the day following the full moon in March.. This year it’s March 6 (2015). It’s a holiday best celebrated with family and friends, especially if you are a foreigner travelling to India for Holi.
Here’s 5 tips for playing Holi safely in India
1. Find a family or group of people to play Holi with; don’t go out into the street by yourself in India’s metros
Find the company of family or friends you trust. That would be best for safely experiencing Holi. You can get drenched with colour, have fun, eat loads of sweets, and not worry about getting attacked by out-of-control boys and men. (Which can happen: I’ve heard lots of stories about foreign women walking out into the street during Holi and finding themselves targeted by males who were using the festival as an excuse for groping.)
2. Cover your skin with oil and wear clothes you can throw away.
A hot pink face for a week isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it is much better for your skin if you cover it in some kind of oil so that you can wash the colour off easily. Clothes are a complete composefun to wear something white that you don’t want any longer, so then you can really see the colour!
3. North India does it better
4. Go very easy on the bhang lassi.
Bhang lassi is a very powerful intoxicant, disguised as a sweet, delicious drink. If you know what it’s made from, you will know why I wasn’t surprised that it was being served at the very upscale private club in Delhi. I’ve heard too many stories about aunties ending up in hospitals. Bhang lassi is one of the reasons it’s not safe for women to wander in public on Holi in India — lots of people are seriously intoxicated.
5. Learn about the significance of Holi.
Holi does not seem to have a singular significance, the way Diwali does for example. It’s a celebration of spring, of unity and brotherhood and — like many festivals in India — of the triumph of good over evil. There are of course mythological stories attached to Holi. The most popular one is that Krishna applied colour to Radha’s cheek. And as these sweethearts represent harmony in love, it’s a charming image and connotation.
Have fun! And Happy Holi!