My name’s Charles. Welcome to my guide on the colourful Holi Festival in India. I’m a filmmaker and photographer who specialises in travel content.
I grew up in a small town in the north of France. I’m an only child and my parents separated when I was seven years old. Each of my parents would do a trip with me every year during summer break. So I was lucky enough to see a lot of inspiring and cool places when I was quite young.
These adventures at a young age really triggered my love of exploration and discovering new cultures later in life. I’ve had the pleasure of making many Indian friends over the years too and I always wanted to visit India.
Inspiration to Experience Holi Festival in India
My friend Julien Fabro introduced me to the idea of going to the Holi Festival this year in March. The festival is held every year at the beginning of Spring and enjoys a long religious tradition with Hinduism. Over a billion Indians come together to celebrate it – splashing each other with paint.
I had already seen some amazing pictures of the Holi Festival in India and it seemed like an incredible experience. As content creators, we are always looking at what hasn’t been captured in our field of work.
Holi was certainly an event that was under-appreciated in the photography world, especially in France. Moreover, it looked like a lot of fun and seemed like only positive things could come out of an all-out paint war!
We managed to experience the festival on a last minute opportunity. We had five days in India which included stops at Agra, Taj Mahal and the Holi Festival in Vrindavan. I’ll never forget my time in Vrindavan with such amazing people.
A Festive Two-Day Celebration in Vrindavan
The Holi Festival lasts two days. Those two days go lightning fast. We spent our time travelling across Vrindavan – exploring temples, wandering around the streets, mingling with locals, and celebrating the chaos.
I would describe the event as a mix of embracing the chaos, taking a breath for five minutes away from the crowds, and then diving back in. It’s a crazy feeling with so much going on around you. People are plunged in colours and you can hear the noise of jumping and screaming everywhere.
You feel rejuvenated with pure joy after experiencing Holi. No amount of words or photos can describe what this festival is like in real life. You simply have to experience the colours, chaos and celebrations for yourself.
Mixing with the Locals at Holi Festival, India
What makes the Holi Festival in India so unique is the opportunity to meet locals and celebrate their way of life together. It’s both easy and difficult.
I would say it’s easy because people are welcoming and kind. Most people we met just wanted to take selfies with us. And I mean a lot of selfies. At one point we had long queues for people wanting photos. They were eager to shake our hands, splash us with colours and say Happy Holi!
On the other hand, it was difficult because there was a lot of pressure on us. As Western tourists with video gear, we caught the attention of locals and at times it felt a bit overwhelming. But at the end of the day, you don’t come to India and experience Holi Festival just to stay in your comfort zone.
Many tourists do choose to celebrate Holi in a private way and that’s totally understandable. Women in particular might feel a bit vulnerable when total strangers throw powder on you and touch you. It can feel confronting.
I always recommend keeping your wits about you and embracing people with an open mind and open heart. Holi Festival allows you to do this.
Favourite Memory from Holi Festival in India
We had so many amazing memories jam-packed into two days. I remember on our first day we celebrated with a big crowd in front of the Hindu temple, Prem Mandir. The sun was setting majestically behind the temple which created the most magical scene.
It was one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ moments. We danced, chanted, jumped, and mixed with the locals of Vrindavan. Everyone was super happy and it was a visually incredible experience with colours flying everywhere.
That’s one of the things I loved most about the Holi Festival in India. The wild nature of the celebrations mixed with the colour was just sensational. Each of the colours have their own meaning. Green is harmony, blue is vitality, red is love and joy, orange is optimism and pink is femininity.
What you Need to Know Before you Go
The most important piece of advice I can give is to get ready to sacrifice your clothes. In all seriousness, whichever clothes you choose to wear will get covered in bright neon colours and won’t be much use to you in the future apart from as souvenirs from your time at Holi Festival in India.
I would also recommend exploring wide-open streets or just staying in areas where there are many people. This keeps you safe and gives you the opportunity to meet locals. If you’re not comfortable with big crowds, then maybe it’s a good option to search for a private party.
Celebrations can get a bit crazy as the night rolls on. It might be a good idea to stay away from the crowds after sunset or just gage whether you’re still in control. Holi is a fantastic experience as long as you feel safe. So make sure you go in groups and keep an eye on your surroundings.
Lastly, I recommend doing a bit of research into the history of Holi. We were mainly focused on getting great photos and footage and not so much on the educational side of things. It’s a wonderful festival where all social classes come together and celebrate with colours.
Learning more about the rich traditions of Holi Festival in India will add another dimension to your experience. Thanks for reading my guide. I hope you enjoy this enriching, life-changing festival just as much as I did!