This post is specifically written for travellers planning to celebrate Holi in India and looking for brief intro on the festival, safety precautions for Holi and best places to celebrate the festival. All solo women travellers and foreigners must read this article.
Holi is the “Festival of colors” and marks the victory of good over evil. It celebrates the beginning of spring. It is one of the most prominent festivals and celebrated almost everywhere in India. On this day, people from all age groups mingle and smear colors on each other. Around mid afternoon, almost everyone who played holi looks almost unrecognisable in mixed shades of red, green, black and blue colors.
According to a legend, ‘Hiranyakashyap’, the demon who ruled over the world believed himself to be more powerful than God. He planned murder of his youngest son Prahlad, an passionate devotee of Lord Vishnu after he refused to worship him as God. The demon asked his sister Holika to enter the burning pyre with Prahlad in her lap. Holika possessed a divine garment to protect her from fire. However, Holika got burnt in the pyre while Prahlad was saved due to divine intervention. Thus, Holi signifies the triumph of good over evil and is major festival all over India. It is particularly celebrated in the Vrindavan and Mathura with great fervour and gaiety.
It is believed that Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, played holi in Vrindavan with the Gopis (cowherd maids). Keeping this tradition, Holi celebrations over a week in Vrindavan and Mathura. People sprinkle colored water, smear colored powders on each other. Groups of men, enacting as Gopas ( cowherd boys) playfully and mischievously tease women acting as Gopis (cowherd girls)through special Holi songs and dances, known as Rasiya.
In the evening of the first day of Holi, bonfires are lit in street crossings. Ladies do special worships (Pooja) and take rounds around the pyre. This is a full moon night. The pyre is lit in the late evening and people start preparing for the next day i.e. Dhulhendi.
Mostly, Kids have water pistols with colored water and shoot water jet sprays on passersby. There was a very loud drum band that played on and off. Kids throw “water balloons” at the pedestrians from their balconies.
As a traveller, you need to be careful about certain things to avoid any unwanted incidents. These safety tips will help you in keeping safe on holi while having all its fun. These precautions will also help you in avoiding skin rashes, eye allergies and discoloration of hair after celebration.
You are encouraged to wear Indian Kurtas with Pajamas or Yoga Pants / Jeans with T shirts. Wear comfortable clothes and expose less skin to colors. You should wear clothes that cover maximum part of your body. Do remember, you may need to throw away the clothes you are going to use for Holi event, as they will get full of colors. Leave your expensive jewellery at home/ room-safe, as there are chances of it getting lost or stolen during Holi celebrations.
It is advisable to carry your mobile phone and wallet in a plastic pouch or a polythene cover during holi celebrations. This will help in protecting your phone and wallet from colours and water.
You should apply coconut oil or cream on your face, hands and skin in the morning before playing with Holi Colors. You should also oil your hair so that colors don't stick to your hair or scalp later. Women must apply thick coat of nail paint on their nails of fingers as well as toes for protection. Apply a nice layer of oil to your hair before playing Holi so that residue from the dyes does not get stuck to your hair and scalp. You may also try to save your teeth from hard-to-remove stains by wearing dental caps.
Sunglasses come in handy to protect your eyes from colors. Also, women may wear sunglasses to avoid eye contacts with eyes staring you. Keep your Ray bans at home and use cheaper sunglasses, which are available at street shopping. Ensure that your eyes remain protected at all times. If color enters your eye accidentally, wash your eyes thoroughly with plenty of clean water. See a doctor if the irritation still persists.
Traditionally, Holi was played using colors from flowers, herbs and organic products. However, chemicals and other toxic substances have mostly replaced flowers and herbs in the colors. Due to high demand for colors during Holi festival, some unethical manufacturers mix chemical dyes in base materials like starch, wheat flour and mica dust for preparing fragrant dyes of cheap quality. These harsh chemicals in colors may cause itching and rashes. It is recommended to use natural, herbal and organic colors which are skin-friendly and manufactured by reputed companies. Try to use red or pink colors, as they look good and easy to wash off. Avoid colors like purple, green and yellow, as they have more chances of having harmful chemicals as ingredients.
Gujiya is a special sweet cooked during holi. Bhaang is a recreational drug made from marijuana leaves and flowers mixed with Milk, dry fruits and cardamom. If you wish to taste Gujiya or Bhaang, take it from known hotels, families and friends. Don’t take Gujiya or Bhaang from complete strangers as they can mix something else in these items. You may also purchase Gujiya from sweet shop. Don’t overdo bhaang as it is intoxicating drink.
Though it is quite difficult to save your face from getting colored, it’s best to put some herbal gulag yourself on your face first. When someone is smearing wet colors on your face, you should keep your eyes and lips tightly shut.
Ensure that kids do not smear the colors in the eyes or ingest the colors. Prevent your kids from running or jumping on wet floors, so that they don’t slip and injure themselves.
“Don’t mind it’s holi”, the saying is taken wrongly by miscreant boys and misbehaving men. It is not fun to throw away water balloons on girls and get away by it, saying “it’s holi”. In the disguise of the festivities, few people spoil the Indian culture by trying to misbehave with girls on the context of playing holi. Some groups of men take advantage of women on the pretext of coloring them. Solo women travellers must play Holi only with close friends and known people.
As a solo women, you must play Holi only with a group of close friends and known people. Do not mix with groups of strangers for holi celebrations. Otherwise, you may be targeted by miscreants. If you are a solo women, you may join the Holi event, organised by your hotel or resort. You may interact with other travellers staying in your hostel or hotel and form a group for Holi event. You should Pre-plan the meeting place with your friends and family before reaching the location.The best safety tip is to stay at a safe distance from unknown people. Ensure that you choose a group that doesn’t take advantage of you.
Few drunk guys on motorbikes tend to eve-tease girls on the road. You should avoid them by walking on footpath and sidewalks. Don’t walk alone on the streets on the day of Holi. While walking on streets, pay close attention to rooftops as miscreant boys tend to throw water balloons at the pedestrians. Though, it seems fun to be hit with water balloon on Holi, but few mischievous boys throw water balloons at girls with wrong intention. It is best to avoid them and walk in friendly groups.
As a blond female , you're going to draw attention on Holi. People may stare, and some may want a picture with you. Generally, There is no problem taking a picture with a family or group of ladies. But, you should refuse to take a photo with a group of guys or a solo guy. It is better to be safe than sorry.
Remember, the police is always there to help you. If any untoward revellers misbehave with you or there is anything suspicious, you are within all your rights to make your complaint to Police. '100' is the helpline number of police in India. '1091' is the special helpline number for 'Women'.
Don't get scared or worried after reading these safety tips. These are precautionary measures to ensure you have a safe and enjoyable Holi. If you follow these safety tips and rely on your instincts and common sense, you will have great fun at the festival. As a traveller, you are always lucky to be in India around Holi and Diwali, So make most of it.
Tripscam wishes you a colorful and prosperous Holi.
After the fun and frolic is over, head straight to your room or stay. The celebrations usually end up around mid afternoon. By this time, you and your clothes would be full of colours.
You will need a long and relaxing bath for taking out color from skin. A mild moisturizing soap and lukewarm water will be helpful. If you have acne, wash your face clean with face cleanser and use an antibiotic gel like Clindamycin gel.
Some color may be left even after thorough cleansing, usually in hands, inside nails etc. The color will go away after one or two days. You should not use use removers, kerosene, petrol or strong soaps to remove leftover colors, as it may cause skin irritation.
After the bath, you may have a camomile tea or any herbal tea. Take a nap for few hours and relax.
It's best to write your experience about Holi celebrations, when it is fresh in your mind. If you could spare a few minutes in the evening and share your experience on Holi with Tripscam community, this would bring a lot of help to other travellers like you. You are invited to login to Tripscam website and 'Write a Report' on your good or bad experiences on Tripscam. It will take 5-10 minutes of your time, but your reports will go a long way to help the traveller community.