On Friday 2nd March 2018, Hindu’s around the world cover themselves and their surroudings in colourful powder and water to celebrate Holi. I had heard about this festival when I was younger as, roughly 30 years to the day, my mum and dad had been in New Delhi, India themselves to experience it. Now, it was my turn and it was great to know that I was literally walking the same steps my parents took all of those years ago.
Holi is a spring festival and is also referred to as the ‘festival of colours‘ or the ‘festival of love‘. The Holi Festival signifies the arrival of spring and the end of winter as well as the victory of good over evil. It’s a day that many use to spend time with friends and family, forgive and forget passed disagreements and repair broken relationships. The main theme of this festival is to have fun together and that’s why the colourful powders and water play such a huge part in the festival.
The Holi festivities start in the morning so me and Niall, and two people from our room called Charlotte and Alex, left at 8am to have a wander around our area to see if anything was going on. We had all bought white tops for the day and probably looked quite funny, like some kind of pop group when we left the hostel that morning. Just down the street from where were staying we bumped into a lady and her two children who put orange powder on our faces and wished us a Happy Holi. We were also given food by her which was very tasty and instantly I knew that it was going to be a good day as we had already received our first bit of colour.
Once we had been covered in paint it wasn’t long until the water balloons started falling down onto us. All along our street children through water balloons out of their balconies down at us with some getting us very wet! This was another part of the festivities and our estate had managed to cover the whole street so nowhere was safe to walk without the chance of getting wet! Even at our hostel, people waiting for taxis would struggle to get to them without being bombarded with water balloons! We thought it was hilarious.
We wandered the streets wishing a Happy Holi to anyone we saw and getting lots of Happy Holi’s back in return. It was a lovely energy to the day and it wasn’t very long until a group of men on motorbikes spotted us and drove over. They all covered us in red, pink and orange powder and then we all got photos with them. It was great to be covered in colour and even better to have it done by the locals as it was authentic to how the festival is for so many people in India.
We walked around town which in areas that been incredibly busy we’re now completely empty! It was surreal to walk around anywhere in Delhi, one of the most populated cities in the world and not see any people! I’m thankful that hadn’t been that way the full time we had walked around the area or that would have been slightly depressing!
Already the day was going great. We walked around more and then headed back towards the hostel as we had been told that things would be starting there at around 10:30. When we got back we were covered in water balloons once again with even more children along with their parents all throwing water at us. It was so much fun and, after Charlotte and Alex went back into the hostel, me and Niall had another walk around to soak up as much of the day as possible. Some children covered us in some more paints and we now had a mix of orange, green, red, pinks and purples all over us that had also gone onto our tops to create colourful patterns.
Our hostel put out some food for us all and made some chai tea (or just their standard tea as Chai is the Indian word for tea) which was all very nice. Our absolute favourite was a sweet pastry called gujia which is a traditional treat made by the women on Holi and is full of a range of sweet fillings such as almonds, dates and raisins. The pastry is very sweet and me and Niall ate a bunch of them – I’d happy still be eating them now if there were any left!
Me and Niall didn’t want to hang around while we waited to leave for our second part of the day’s events so we went across the road of our hostel to a small park that was being set up with music and had people in there having a water fight and colouring one another. We were invited in and given more colours by some ladies and Niall was given a green spot on his forehead by a man who then gave him a hand shake and hug and said something to him in Hindi which we think was a traditional ritual for Holi. It was great to be welcomed and invited to join in but the locals and the kids all loved soaking us! I was also given some powder by a lady so was able to add my first bit of colour for the day to her face like she had done to me which was very cool.
Two very colourful men on a motorbike also drove past and added more colour to our faces before they drove off. They were exceptionally colourful and we did see a lot of people throwing the powder at one another to maximise the amount of colour they were covered in!
Our hostel had arranged for us all to go to a festival with them called Holi Moo which took place at around 12pm until around 7pm. This was attended by tourists and locals and provided unlimited alcohol, paint powders and had four stages with music on so you could just dance, cover each other in paint and have a good time. They had managed to get us a discounted price of 2000 rupees (£22) saving us 500 rupees as there were a number of us going and even paid for our taxis there. Quite a few people in the hostel went including all of the workers who we had been out with us a couple of nights before so it was a laugh to cover each other in paint but you also covered and got covered by everyone else at the festival which meant that the colours you were throughout the day were changing as time went on which we enjoyed.
We had the best time and spent all day dancing, covering each other in loads of paint powders and messing around with our new friends. I have never seen so much colour in one place and it was great seeing everyone just having a great time together and just enjoying the day. Nothing brought my mood down and I couldn’t have imagined it going any better. I had been so excited about being in India for Holi and was a little bit worried I would end up being disappointed by it from building it up too much in my head but it was better than I could have imagined and I loved that we were able to experience a more intimate Holi festival with our neighbours and then go to a giant festival and party the rest of the day with the people of Delhi. The hostel also really helped to make it so much fun which we were really grateful for and I can honestly say that the whole day was just perfect.
We took pictures together as the day went on so that we could see how the colours we got covered in changed over time. You’re constantly covered in paint and when it’s being put on your face you often have no idea what colour it is that they’re putting on you so it was fun to take a picture and see that we were now bright blue or yellow and green! If I could relive the full day again I would and I am over the moon that we were able to be here for it. It’s one bucket list item ticked off for me and it exceeded all my expectations!
Sending colourful love x