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Celebrating Holi, the Festival of Colors

Posted on March 25 2021

Celebrating Holi, the Festival of Colors

Photo by Debashis RC Biswas via Unsplash

Map and story by Ali Harford 


Happy Holi! What better way is there to banish the darkness of winter and celebrate the beginning of spring than by dousing your community in a riot of color? This year, Holi, or the Festival of Colors, falls on Sunday, March 28, and continues into March 29, in accordance with the last full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna. Holi celebrates the beginning of spring, the triumph of good over evil, and “encourages people to forgive and forget, to pay off old debts, renew broken relationships, and make new friends,” according to Hindu American. This year’s celebrations will be largely virtual, but Holi, especially in India, is an event on every traveler’s bucket list.

The first Holi celebration was in India in the 4th Century C.E., but now there’s a Holi festival in almost every country in the world. Celebrations span two days. On the first day, communities create and light a bonfire. On the second and more famous day, people take to the streets to throw colored powder (gulal) and water balloons at one another and to sing and dance together. At night, everyone gathers with their families to enjoy food and each other’s company—although the India Times wrote in 2019 that “food happens to be the best thing about this festival.”

Below, explore a map of five of the best Holi celebrations in India, according to Trip Savvy and Culture Trip—each one is a little bit different.


Where to Celebrate Holi in India 

Anandpur Sahib, Punjab: A Sikh celebration of physical agility

Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh: one of the biggest and most traditional celebrations, associated with Lord Krishna

Shantiniketan, West Bengal: cultural and spiritual celebrations

Udaipur, Rajasthan: Celebrate with the Udaipur Mewar Royal family

Hampi, Karnataka: A community celebration followed by a wash-off in the river


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