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HOLI 2014 in Dwarka, New Delhi

The Faces of HOLI

If you are familiar with Indian festivals, you would have heard of HOLI by now. The “Festival of Colors” is, quite probably, the most sought-after celebration of them all by tourists visiting Incredible India.

Originally a Hindu festival, the fun of Holi has been shared by more and more people of different religious and backgrounds in recent years. Here in Asia and beyond.

The most eye-catching feature of Holi is the fact that people throw colors (powder and water) onto one another and, as such, their clothes and faces tend to look like crazy canvases for the rest of the day. It’s easy to get that people like to party and have fun but…

 

What exactly is the meaning of HOLI?

 
Like most Hindu festivals, Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil. Too generic, right? Let’s go into detail a little more, while we look at our neighbors’ faces during today’s celebration here in Delhi…

Holi is celebrated by people of all ages!

Holi is celebrated by people of all ages!

The legend tells us the story of Holika, sister of demon-King Hiranyakashipu. Prahlad was Holika’s brother and their dad (the demon-King) was mad at him because he was devoted to other Gods instead of his own Dad. Apparently, Hiranyakashipu thought of himself as a God and wanted everyone at his feet. As the demon-King wanted revenge against his own son, he asked Holika to walk with him into a fire. Holika was supposedly resistant to fire, which means she wouldn’t die if she agreed to do this to her own sibling – only Prahlad would suffer from this. In a twist of fate, Holika died and Prahlad stayed alive and this is how the powers from above proved that good eventually wins over evil. This part explains why the night before Holi is celebrated around a bonfire.

Water guns are a MUST have accessory during Holi... for self protection!

Water guns are a MUST have accessory during Holi… for self protection!

Celebrating Holi in family

Celebrating Holi in family

 

Friendly faces of Holi

Friendly faces of Holi

"I am having so much fun!"

"I am having so much fun!"

Even Wolverine likes to play Holi!

Even Wolverine likes to play Holi!

Holi is cooler than a walk in the park...

Holi is cooler than a walk in the park…

 

Other theories run in parallel with this myth. Some believe that Lord Krishna used to throw colored powders to his milk maids, and that’s how the coloring tradition got started.

It seems like the origin and meaning of Holi is not fully clear. I am not even sure everyone around here knows about it either. What I am pretty sure about is that they all embrace the opportunity of having fun and let off some steam.

While kids run around, adults picnic and drink. Not bad, not bad at all.

While kids run around, adults picnic and drink. Not bad, not bad at all.

A Holi date?

A Holi date?

 

Having fun in the sun!

Having fun in the sun!

These photos were taken in the apartment complex where Ashray’s Mom lives. This is a place where people from the military live – you can imagine how good it felt watching them cut loose for the day, drinking and smiling away, welcoming the torrid heat that is already warming up in New Delhi.

I must say that it doesn’t hurt that drinks and even food get spiked with bhang during Holi. Bhang is weed, and this is common place in India during Holi celebrations. Sometimes, even pakoras and other snacks are seasoned with bhang. No wonder everyone looks so cheerful during Holi!
 

Have you been in India during Holi?
Tell us all about the fun you had!

 


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19 Comments

  • Irina Says

    I’ve ALWAYS wanted to participate in Holi! So did you also go out and got “holied”? haha And if so, let’s see the pictures!

    • Zara Says

      I didn’t get “holied” as I was with the photo camera and our neighbors respected that – thankfully!! ;)

  • Franca Says

    I always wanted to go to India for this amazing festival, it simply looks amazing: the colours, the people having fun, everyone is smiling… Unfortunately I haven’t made it there yet and I missed it this year too. I’ll see what next year brings :)

  • Julia Says

    I’m glad to see such agreat pictures and hear such positivty about Holi – I was there a few years ago, and had a very unpleasant experience, or being groped and made to feel pretty unsafe. I know a lot of it has to do with where I was (Pahar Ganj in Delhi), but it was still very stressful. I hate to be a self-promoter, but I wrote about it after it happened if you’re interested: http://www.theepicadventurer.com/2010/03/in-which-i-get-too-lazy-to-write-full.html

    • Ashray Says

      That’s terrible Julia. I’m really sorry you had to experience something like that. For what it’s worth, Holi can get quite wild and many Indians wouldn’t venture into areas like Pahar Ganj on that day. (I’d rather steer clear of Pahar Ganj on any regular day even..)

      We normally celebrate Holi inside our respective housing societies etc. and to be honest while people will have water balloon fights and throw color at each other – it NEVER gets violent/weird.

      I read your article and felt really bad. Holi isn’t supposed to be that way – but it often gets crazy, especially in North India (UP, Bihar, Delhi, etc.).

    • Zara Says

      Hi Julia,

      I just read your blog about your experience in Delhi and it does suck. A LOT. But, as Ashray says, some locals wouldn’t join in this type of celebration in certain areas of the city either, let alone if they are women alone. Local women don’t do it either. Of course this is no justification for the sad behavior displayed by some men towards you girls, but I am just mentioning it as a tip for other travelers who might read this. Even if it looks like fun, it’s not necessarily fun for everyone.

      On the day of Holi this year, I went outside our apartment complex with the car. The streets were almost deserted in the area we live in (and, oh boy, is that an uncommon sight in Delhi!). All I saw was the occasional group of men on a given corner, playing Holi with each other… no women, no women at all. During Holi, people tend to drink and get high like there’s no tomorrow and that, of course, also helps the kind of behavior that some of the local men displayed with you.

      I think sometimes there has to be an adjustment by both sides: locals need to understand that non-Indian female tourists alone are not necessarily “asking for it”, while tourists need to also understand that there are certain instances when they just shouldn’t join in. I wish Holi was all fun and color for everyone, but I know as a matter of fact that things are not so straight forward. You have to play Holi with people you know, in a safe and “protected” environment.

      Besides this bitter experience, I hope you keep good experiences from India and hey… if next time you’re in Delhi during Holi and we happen to be around too, let’s just play Holi together!! :)

  • Such a cool celebration!! I’d love to get there in person one day. Thanks for sharing!

    • Zara Says

      If you ever come to India, keep in mind Holi dates that are usually around March (it depends based on the Hindu lunar calendar).
      This is a great time to experience the country!

  • Hope we can be there one day to attend such an awesome festival.

    • Zara Says

      Do come to India around Holi.. it’s worth it!
      But make sure you celebrate amongst friends or people you’ve met before, in a safe environment (see Julia’s comment above).
      Avoid the hassle and enjoy the fun! ;)

  • Sally Says

    Great post! The post also looks very colorful.Looks you have some great fun out there.

  • Dusty Says

    Thanks for sharing you Holi experience. The photos are fantastic.
    Travelling to India this year it was a toss up between the Holi Festival and the Pushkar Camel Fair. The camel fair won but I would LOVE to come back for the Holi Festival and travel other parts of India that I won’t get to later this year.

    • Zara Says

      Judging by your website’s name, it’s no surprise the Pushkar Camel Fair won!!
      Still, I hope you get to go back to India sometime to experience Holi too! :)

  • pooja kamal Says

    Fantastic !….i enjoyed watching each and every pic of friends & family…The beautiful festivel of colours!!! Keep up your good A & Z!!!

  • It’s fantastic, I could attend a Holi Party in Spain and, even though it’s not the same as living it in India, it was pretty exciting! :)

    • Zara Says

      Those HOLI festivals seem to be getting pretty popular at an international level. I know one happens in Portugal too every year. They are probably fun… but consider coming to India to experience the real one with us sometime too!! ;)

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