Celebrate this amazing Hindu religious festival with joy and color
Start: 8 March 2023
End: 8 March 2023


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Mathura, India

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Holi is a Hindu celebration coinciding with the spring equinox. Known as the Festival of Colours (Phâlgunotsava), it marks the end of winter and heralds the new harvest.

Holi is mainly dedicated to Krishna, one of the most revered deities in India and Hinduism. It is an ancient festival dating back to antiquity, with the first written records dating back to the 4th century. In the south of the country, the event is dedicated to the god Kamadeva (Hindu deity of desire and human love).

Celebrated by Indian communities all over the world, Holi is particularly fervent in Northern India. According to tradition, it is customary to engage in a great battle of colours in the streets by throwing gulal (coloured powder) at each other in love and happiness.

The festival includes processions, music, dances, songs, mythological re-enactments and temple decorations. It takes place over two days in February or March each year. This corresponds to the last day of the full moon in the month of Phālgun, during the 12th month of the year in the Hindu calendar. Its dates vary according to the lunar calendar and the length of the festival may vary according to the region.

The first day of festivities is known as Holika Dahan. It consists of lighting huge bonfires after sunset. This ritual symbolizes the burning of Holika, a demon woman burned by Vishnu, and the destruction of evil for the triumph of good. At the end of this ceremony, some Hindus collect the ashes and spread them over their bodies as an act of purification. It is also an opportunity to forgive one’s neighbour, to make one’s ills disappear or to repair broken relationships.

The second day of Holi (Dhuletti) gives way to animated scenes of people covered with coloured powders after having engaged in a great offensive of jets of colour and water in the streets. This practice is accompanied by the saying “Bura na mano, Holî hai” (Don’t be angry, it’s Holi). In the evening, people visit their families, relatives and friends to exchange gifts, Indian desserts (gujia, mathri, malpua), wishes and greetings. A big spring cleaning is done in the houses during this festive period.

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  • The bonfires and rainbow of colours
  • The joyful and playful atmosphere
  • The enthusiasm of the participants ignoring differences of any kind
  • Holi is a religious festival that is also celebrated by non-Hindus while ignoring the castes, inequalities, gender, social status and age differences of the inhabitants or tourists who participate.
  • Several legends are associated with the Holi festival in Hindu mythology, whose morality is based on the victory of good over evil.
  • Historically, the dyes used during Holi are prepared from natural products as a sign of fertility (leaves, spices, medicinal plants and herbs which are dried and then ground). These may include henna leaf pigments, margose, marigold flowers, turmeric, kumkum bhagya and red sandalwood powder. These products are sold in markets and shops during the preparations for Holi (which start 2 weeks before the festival begins). The colours used each have a particular meaning: green represents harmony, yellow symbolizes faith, orange stands for optimism, blue refers to vitality and red and pink embody joy and love. Over time, chemical dyes and synthetic colours have gradually replaced natural products. They may contain dangerous toxins that have a harmful effect on the human body (irritations, inflammations, allergies, itching, skin rashes, eye infections…) due to the possible presence of lead and mercury.
  • Bhang (spicy drinks infused with cannabis) is regularly consumed during this Hindu festival. Over-consumption can lead to an increase in blood pressure and rapid heartbeat, not to mention the side effects (hallucinations, paranoia…).
  • Admission is free of charge.
  • Holi is celebrated with intense enthusiasm and joy throughout the country. North India is undoubtedly the region to be favoured to make the experience even more unforgettable, especially in the cities of Mathura (holy city and birthplace of Krishna), Vrindavan (where the festival was first celebrated) and Nandgaon (where Krishna lived). The cities of New Delhi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Siliguri and Prayagraj remain a good alternative to participate in the festival.
  • Wear old white clothes, glasses, long-sleeved tops and long pants to avoid contact with your skin and eyes. Be sure to apply oil to your skin and hair before participating in the Colour Party so that the substances do not cling easily to you.
  • For women, it is best to stay in a group to avoid unwanted touching or possible sexual assault.
  • If you plan to take pictures, remember to protect your camera with plastic film.
  • Holi’s festivities usually continue for a week and each major temple dedicated to Krishna celebrates Holi on a different day (cities of Mathura, Nandgaon, Gokul and Barsana, all located in the state of Uttar Pradesh).