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Happy HOLI

The Hindu festival of Holi, the festival of colour, primarily observed in India and Nepal has many purposes, but mainly marks the beginning of the new season of spring and a chance for everyone to let their hair down and enjoy themselves! Originally a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land, it also has religious origins that commemorate events always present in Hindu mythology. But the main aim of celebrating this festival is just that – to celebrate.

All images courtesy of Wikipedia

Holi has been described as the most exhilarating of religious holidays, as those who participate in the celebrations hold a bonfire, throw coloured powder at each other and celebrate with gusto. In most areas the festivities last for about two days, and in these two days social norms are reduced, allowing rich and poor, men and women, old and young to mingle and celebrate together.

Polite behaviour is of less importance and the result of this is of excitement and exuberance as a party atmosphere settles over the areas in which Holi is celebrated. Holi has been given the name ‘Festival of Colours’ due to the throwing of coloured powders and water on others and the result of this often makes for some fantastic photographs of people in the midst of joy, covered in bright colours from head to toe.

Holi, celebrated on a large scale worldwide is all about having fun and thankful for the good things in life. The throwing of colours symbolises the start of the new season of spring and that it is a time to be happy and to make life more colourful. It sounds fantastic!

Some of the best places to be in India when Holi is being celebrated:

-          Gujarat: This is where the celebrative origins of Holi are, with a particular emphasis on dance, food, music and the coloured powder that has made Holi so distinctive and well known worldwide. Bonfires are lit in the main squares of the villages and colonies, around which people gather and sing and dance – symbolising the victory of good over evil that the Hindu mythology links Holi to.

-          Barsana: This is the place to be at the time of Holi. Thousands gather in the compound of Radha Rani temple to witness the Lath Mar Holi where women beat up men with sticks – something that is unique in the Holi tradition.

-          If you want to go to a place that holds the festival for sixteen days, then head to Vrindavan for a two weeks long celebration of food, dancing, and bright colours.

-          In Kanpur the festival lasts longer than usual but for a slightly more sedate seven days, filled with colour and a grand fair called Ganga Mela or the Holi Mela. This grand fair comes on the seventh day and marks the official end of ‘The Festival of Colours’ in Kanpur.

-          In Gorakhpur, the start day of Holi is considered to be the happiest and most colourful day of the year, promoting kinship and brotherhood among the festival goers.

-          In Dhampur, large Holi festivities have been organised for the past 60 years and now attracts almost 10,000 people wishing to celebrate Holi. The festival includes lots of bands, music and dancing.

-          And, as a last note - Nepal has a rather novel way of celebrating Holi; by throwing water balloons filled with coloured water at each other it is believed that the combination of different colours will take all the sorrow away, and make life literally more colourful.

Volunteer in India or Nepal where Holi is celebrated and discover these enigmatic cultures for yourself.

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