Holi festival

1st March 2017

Emily Robertshaw


What is Holi?

Holi is a major festival in India where thousands of people line the streets in a huge celebration of colour, dance and music. It’s one of India’s oldest festivals and celebrates the arrival of Spring and the victory of good over evil.


When is Holi?

Holi takes place the day after the full moon in March, which changes every year.


What happens at Holi?

The night before, known as Holi eve or Holika Dahan, a fire is lit to burn away evil spirits. Dried leaves and branches from the Winter are burned on the fire to make way for Spring. Ashes from the Holika Dahan bonfires are thought to bring good luck.

The morning after the Holika bonfires have been lit the infamous colour throwing begins. People rub coloured powders called Gulal and Abeer on each other’s faces and throw coloured water over each other. Some people believe that this tradition originated from a young, mischievous boy – soon to be lord – named Krishna who used to throw coloured water over milkmaids.

If you happen to be visiting India during Holi, then head to Mathura and Vidrihan for some of the country’s biggest celebrations! Lord Krishna was born in Mathura and grew up in Vidrihan, so residents and tourists remember him in a week-long Holi celebration.

In Delhi, there’s a magnificent carnival-like atmosphere with music, dancing and bright colours everywhere! The best place to be is in one of the South Delhi’s residential areas, where locals welcome tourists with open arms – and may even offer them some of their traditional cooking!

In Bengal, Holi is known as Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima and is an amalgamation of lively, colourful Holi celebrations and prayer. Small idols of Lord Krishna and Sri Radha are placed in a Palanquin (a covered Sedan chair) and are carried through the celebrations.


Holi celebrations in the UK

If you’re not planning on heading to India anytime soon, there are plenty of Holi-inspired festivals throughout the UK. Some do start in March, however a lot of celebrations take place from May onwards, to blend in with the main festival season and because it’s a bit warmer!

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