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The Do’s and Dont’s of Celebrating Holi 

celebrate Holi festival like a local in India Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blogcelebrate Holi festival like a local in India

HAPPY HOLI !!! Holi is a stunningly colourful Hindu festival originating in India, but now celebrated in many places around the world. They tend to celebrate it around March time, but the date changes each year.  We had epic time of celebrating it with the locals on the the streets that run alongside the Ganges of India. The atmosphere was electric and as you can tell from the photo's, it is a bit of crazy sensory overload! You will find yourself covered in colour, overwhelmed by smiles and saying HAPPY HOLI so many times you will be uttering it in your sleep when you finally rest... 

Do wear white!

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Part of the fun is heading out in white, knowing you’ll never look the same again! I hasten to add, if you're a girl, wear a thick white top as you may get wet! (ahem!) I got away with it, but if I did it again I would probably go for a bit more of a baggy white t-shirt. 

ooo AND wear sunglasses! Not just cause its a hot look, but because your eyes will thank you!! That colour does get everywhere!!

celebrate Holi festival like a local in India 

Don’t paint animals!

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A lot of locals think it’s fun to paint the animals, but so much of the powder they use is toxic and can irritate the poor animal's skin, bringing them out in rashes, causing them to lick their skin and get sick. Oh, not to mention it’s 40 Degrees Celsius and they didn’t opt to be covered in paint!

 celebrate Holi festival like a local in India

Do stay safe

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So much of Holi is feel good fun!  Everyone is meeting and greeting and partying in the streets. BUT the men can get REALLY full on. Try to avoid bigger groups of all guys, what can start off as a happy holi hug can turn into guys grabbing you roughly, even groping you. Pete was having tear people off me at a few points, so we quickly learned which types of groups to avoid. I do hasten to add that it was some of the local men who also helped protect me and beat the other guys off when things got a bit crazy. The seriously creepy looking guy in this photo didn’t actually try anything on, probably because he was by himself and just wanted a photo, but he definitely didn’t understand personal space and his face says it all!

 celebrate Holi festival like a local in India

Don’t get the date wrong!

Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog emma tryon

The date changes every year, so make sure you check the date for the year you’re going and check it matches the region you will be in!

 celebrate Holi festival like a local in India

Do find friends to celebrate with

Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog pete emma tryon

Not only does this tie in with staying safe but it makes for an amazing day! I will genuinely never forget the people I shared Holi with. We met at the hostel and just had the most epic, surreal of course colourful time!

 celebrate Holi festival like a local in India

Don’t head for the temples

Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog

Unless you know a specific temple area or gathering place is celebrating holi, don’t presume they are a good place for Holi. We found that some of the temples were actually the quietest places, as you’re not allowed to throw colour anywhere near them. So if you don’t know of a specific place that is celebrating, just head to the streets and wander, trust me, Holi will find you.

celebrate Holi festival like a local in India 

Do avoid drive by boob gropes!

Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog

Yes, I was indeed subject to a drive by boob grope and it wasn’t so funny at the time, it just felt icky and invasive. Makes me laugh now though, just the ridiculous of Holi! Really, as a girl, you just have to be careful as any groping, even in the photo above a seemingly sweet local is going in for a sly grope! Oh and as it’s not just the groping to be careful of, a lot of the locals on bikes are already drunk and so you have to be really carefully, extra careful even by India’s standards to avoid motorbikes and vehicles. If they are intentionally swerving towards you, even if they are laughing, presume they’re an idiot out of control and jump out the way!!

 celebrate Holi festival like a local in India

Don’t take anything you don’t want to get wet or stained

celebrate Holi festival like a local in India Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog

Personally I quite like that our wristbands and Pete’s white g-shock watch are still stained and colourful from Holi. In fact, the pink in my hair stayed longer than any other intentional pink hair dye I have used in the past! (I’m sure I should be bottling and selling it!) So, if you want to keep Holi alive, by all means wear what you want, but do know the colour really does stain long term.

 

Do stay hydrated

Churma and Tea Masala rajasthan Alwar Amazing India

It’s Indian, it’s hot, you’ll sweat and you will likely be very distracted by festive frolics, so make sure you take bottled water with you ... and don’t forget to drink it!! The 5p local chai also goes down a treat when it comes to staying energised! 

 

Don’t take a lot of money with you

Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog pete tryon

It’s India! You never need much money on you anyway! Due to crowds craziness and you looking foreign it is best that you don’t take your valuables. Try to just take bit of money for the day and if you’re risking it, take your camera.

TOP TIP: Just take your camera for a short while, then run it back to where you’re staying so you can just enjoy the throes of Holi!

 

Do be careful with colour

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Some people have found that the colours can bring them out in rashes. Even if you buy your own non toxic colours, depending on how much you throw yourself into it you will be met by lots of locals throwing it and rubbing it on your face. If you know you have sensitive skin or just like your own personal space you really will have to be firm with people about it.

 

Do make the most of the morning

Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog pete tryon

Certainly in Varanasi and from what I understand in other places too, most of colourful street fun takes place on the morning of the main day of Holi. Across the country, different places will have specific organised celebrations at different times, but if you’re unsure, do note that generally the majority of the full on colourful street fun only seems to happen on the morning of Holi.

Also, you may want to get cleaned up in the evening. ...Well, if you don’t want to feel like a wally! We found that most locals seemed to get cleaned up early afternoon and head out in white in a much more calm and peaceful manner. I presume the guys who drank too much just end up in a colourful passed out heap somewhere. Myself and a few friends didn’t know about getting cleaned up and truth be told still has a lot of fun playing with colour in the afternoon, but if you want to feel like you’re fitting in with locals, get cleaned up for the afternoon.

 

Don’t leave the paint on too long

Holi festival photo ideas India photgraphy celebrate like a local backpacking in India Globmad Blog Pete tryon

Aside from staining, some people also found that as the powders and paints mixed with sweat they would get into their eyes as well as generally becoming quite irritating to the skin and damaging to hair.

 

Do have fun!

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I know it’s never fun reading about the cautions, but knowledge is power, so now you know, you are equipped and can go enjoy the epically colorful once in life long highlight of an experience that is Holi !!!

 

Looking For a Place to Stay ?

From hostels to palaces, India really has it all! There are many really impressive well thought out hostels AND some dreamy fairytale palaces where they greet you with garlands and shower you with petals! It is well worth browsing and booking a few in advance.

Agoda have great deals on hostels, guest houses and hotels if you book in advance.

 

Book your stay in New Delhi HERE (One of the most eclectic culture rich capitals on the planet!)

Book your stay in Varanasi HERE (Pilgrimage to the holy shores of the Ganges River )

Book your stay in Agra HERE (Perfect base to explore the beautiful TAJ MAHAL! )

Book your stay in Jodhpur HERE (The beautiful blue Instagram friendly city of the west)

Book your stay in Jaipur HERE (The pink city is rich in culture and part of the golden triangle)

Book your stay Jaisalmer  HERE (Ride out into the sunset on camel back, camp in the desert)

Book your stay in Leh Ladakh HERE (Home to some of the world’s most breathtaking trekking)

Book your stay Mumbai HERE (Bollywood shows, shopping, extreme sports)

Book your stay in Goa HERE (Dance on the beach and relax in the warm Arabian Ocean)

Book your stay in Kerala (Kochi) HERE (Explore the backwaters and discover the wildlife )

 

First Time in India ?? 

Up-to-date blogs (like this one, ahem!) will be a great source of info for exploring India  But If it's you're first time visiting, you will probably want to grab a travel guide too. I always think you don't need more than a 'Rough Guide' as it is about making it your own adventure! They have a cheeper kindle copy as well as the actual book.

 

The Do's and Don'ts of celebrating Holi festival in India | Inspiration and dangerous, where are the best places to celebrate?Globemad Blog 2017

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12 Responses

  1. Meg
    | Reply

    Awesome tips! I’ll be in Nepal for Holi – and I heard that it can get rowdy, but not like India. I’ll be thankful to be traveling with my boyfriend – as I’ve heard stories! But I’ve also heard if you make a scene if someone gets inappropriate that it’s ok – that’s what local women would do!

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hey Meg, thats super exciting! You’re right it can get rowdy, but like you say if you make a scene, either they back off or even other locals tend to help out. Almost everyone is on good spirits and most will want you to feel welcome and safe, especially in Nepal, they’re just such lovely people!

  2. Louiela
    | Reply

    Great tips to celebrate Holi in a more meaningful and safer way… Hope to experience Holi in Dubai… gonna check the exact dates now 🙂

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Thank you, really glad its helpful. Holi in Dubai sounds fun!

  3. Jessica
    | Reply

    Thank you for this post! I’ve always wanted to go to Holi but wondered about the powder. I assumed there were no regulations and have super sensitive skin. You post is the first I’ve ever read that addressed this issue

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hey Jessica, really glad its helpful, it can be so tough having sensitive skin. You could always take face wipes, or a sensitive soap and water with you and if after the first bit it is irritating, get it straight off wherever you are, or just celebrate somewhere quieter where you can take it in but with there being less people you can just tell them not to wipe it all over you 😉

  4. Emma
    | Reply

    I love the look of this. So much colour and so much fun! Looks like everyone is really getting involved and having a fabulous time – and love the fact that you all wore white to make the most of the colourful dyes!

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hey Emma (Good name haha!) Yeah, so much fun starting off in white! I took a few clips through out the day showing the crazy change, will make a fab comical vid when its done!

  5. Stephanie Frias
    | Reply

    As wonderful as your photos are, I have to say that I would enjoy this festival most from high up in a window sill with my camera. It’s really nice to learn about the reality through your post, as photos can sometimes be charming but the experience not so much! I would really be bothered by people trying to grope me, so I am glad to know that sort of a part of the custom. Mostly, so I can avoid it. It is wonderful that you had a great group of people with to curb some of the holiday enthusiasm from the bystanders!

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Yeah, I loved getting the fun photos, but have done me best to give a balanced reality check on what it can be like, the good the bad and the gropey!! I met a girl living in India who decided to stay with a family and enjoy it from the roof tops, I think she loved it and still got to enjoy a lot of the atmosphere 🙂 might be wise

  6. Therie
    | Reply

    Love the photos! I’ve heard the same thing from other female travelers getting groped during Holi. Even the local women are targets. The festival looks like so much fun though!

    • Globemad Emma
      | Reply

      Hey Therie, yeah that is the downside of Holi and you’re totally right local women get it tough too, alot them don’t go out during the festival. If you can just throw yourself into it though and put up with that side of it, it is GREAT fun! 🙂

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