Holi Festival in Delhi: When, History & Activities

Holi Festival is an important Hindu festival which marks the beginning of the spring. It is similar to the La Tomatina festival, but here instead of tomatoes, people throw powered colors at each other.  As a predominant Indian festival, Holi has gradually spread in different parts of the world with the Indian diaspora. Countries like Guyana, Jamaica, South Africa, and Fiji, Holi Festival has become an important part of the social calendar.

The two-day festival begins with a bonfire on the eve before the celebrations – signifying purging of the evil and everything bad residing inside our mind. Also known as the Basanta Utsav, Rangwali Holi, Phagwah, Dhuleti, Dhulandi, the Holi signifies new beginning with the advent of spring. In the country, where agriculture is one of the primary occupations of its citizens – Holi means end of the harsh winters and beginning of spring harvest.

Holi Festival in Delhi
Holi Festival in Delhi
On Holi, people gather together and smear each other with gulal (powdered color). Special delicacies like gujiya (deep fried desserts), thandai (cold beverages with ample helping of nuts), and other popular Indian sweets are prepared.

When is it celebrated?

Holi fall in the month of Phalguna (mid-February to mid-March), in accordance to the Hindu lunar calendar. The Phalguna marks the arrival of spring, making Holi an important for the Indian agrarian-inspired culture.

What to expect at Holi?

Just like any Indian festival or celebration, Holi has a deeply symbolic association. The festival marks the arrival of the new, victory of good over the evil. According to the legends, Holika – the demoness – went on to burn her nephew, Prahalad, on a funeral pyre. But the child was saved by Vishnu (one of the gods in the holy trinity), while the demoness was killed in the same pyre.

On the night before Holi, Hindus burn a symbolic pyre to commemorate the legend. The occasion is referred as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi.

The next day marks the beginning of Holi, and you can find people dousing each other in colors since early morning. Music is an important part of Holi Festival, and one can find drummers and musicians playing special ceremonial songs for the occasion.

What to wear for Holi?

Salwar Kameez for Holi
Salwar Kameez for Holi
While there is no specific dress code for Holi, Indians prefer wearing Kurta Pajamas or Salwar Kameez for the occasion. Although, Bollywood has romanticized white clothes with Holi, remember wearing white for the occasion might not be a practical decision.

A few of the color manufacturers use synthetic colors while preparing the gulal for Holi. These powdered pigments can cause irritation to the sensitive skin, so taking necessary precautions is recommended.

Holi in Delhi

Indian capital, Delhi, is famous for its Holi parties and celebrations. Here people gather together and play with powered color, eat special sweets and delicacies, and celebrate the arrival of the spring.  People who are brave enough to explore the streets are drenched in colors or gulal flying from every direction.

The Holi Festival showcases one of the most striking features of the Indian culture, making it an extraordinary sensory trip. In Delhi, Holi has taken up an urban makeover. Big and small organizers host Holi parties, where visitors can find unlimited supply of food, thandai, and colors. However, the sentiments associated with the celebrations remain the same.

P.S: Beware of the cannabis-laced bhang ladoos and bhang thandai.

Here are some of the popular Holi parties in Delhi –

1. Water Gun Dhol at Ramleela Ground

Delhi Festival
Holi Parties in Delhi

Address: Ram Leela Ground, Geeta Colony, Delhi- 110051

Timing: 10.00 am onwards
Entry: With passes

The all-day event is filled with color, party, and music – making the festival and electrifying experience. Popular DJ’s are invited for the event, making the occasion more special.

2. Rang Barse at Bellas n Bambinos

Address: J-10, 24 A, DLF Phase 2, Sector 25, Gurugram, Haryana 122022
Timing: 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm onwards
Entry: With passes

A Holi party meant exclusively for the kids, Rang Barse is a fun-filled affair. Apart from playing with colors, children can engage in art and crafts, story-telling, or Phoolowali Holi (holi with flowers instead of colors).

3. UNITE-The Land of Colors at JLN Stadium

Address: Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Pragati Vihar, New Delhi, Delhi 110003
Timing: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Entry: INR 1,999 for GA PHASE, INR 500 for children

The Holi festival at Unite is simply the best. People enjoy themselves to the fullest, while savoring delightful desserts. Rain Dance and Dhol Dhamaka make this event more electrifying.

Some tips for travelers

a. Beware of bhang (cannabis-laced) drinks or sweets. No one can gauge the strength of the drug used in preparing the sweet, so it is always better to stay safe.
b. Holi Festival, unfortunately has notoriety with sexual harassment, and women are more likely to be affected by it.
c. Try to wear sunglasses, to protect the eyes from the color. Also, do not carry expensive gadgets or equipment while playing.

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