Party #17: India’s Holi Festival with Chris

Welcome to the 17th edition of my series “A Party to Remember!”

In this interview-based web series, you’ll learn about the best parties and nightlife all over the world from other travelers and travel bloggers.

In this week’s episode, I am happy to host Chris, who is going to share about a crazy annual festival in India (which I attended as well in 2015!)

If you want to be the next person featured in this series, then please contact me with your party idea and I will send you the guidelines.  My aim is to cover nightlife all over the globe, so please try to contribute a party that hasn’t already been covered.

Alright, now I’ll let Chris take over!

Meet Chris

Chris originally hails from the United States of America, specifically Michigan. He first discovered his love of travel when he spent a summer in Guatemala doing service while attending University. After studying for a semester in London, and post-grad trips to South Africa and Brazil, while juggling a job as an accountant, Chris determined that the 9-5 cubicle lifestyle was not for him. He resigned from his job in September 2015, and has travelled since then through Africa, Thailand, and India, with many more destinations planned!

To see more of his adventures experiences, check out his blog- “To India and Beyond”, photos on Instagram, or pins on Pinterest.

Question 1: What was the party/event and where was it?

Holi, or “The Festival of Colors” is a Hindu Spring Festival in India that has since spawned smaller versions of the event in other countries. It is a party to celebrate the coming of Spring, but many people know it for the vibrant color war that occurs during the festivities! Whether it be powdered color, colored water in water guns or buckets, or foamed color from aerosol cans, anything goes during Holi. While celebrations occur all over in India, the largest of them all occurs in the two (normally tame) towns of Vrindavan and Mathura, India.

Question 2: How did you hear about this party/event?  Did you randomly stumble upon it, or did you plan to go?

Holi is celebrated all over India, and I had planned to spend the day having fun throwing colors in whichever city I found myself in on March 24th. However, when I was hanging out at my hostel in Agra a few days before the scheduled event, I learned of the special significance of the celebrations in these two joint cities (the birthplace of Lord Krishna), and the many unique events that occur throughout the weeklong festivities, whereas most cities only celebrate on one day. We were able to get a group together for the pinnacle of the celebrations on March 23-24 and made the short journey over to Mathura where it turned out to be an unforgettable time.

Question 3: Did anything funny or ‘out of the ordinary’ happen that night?  Please share the story!

Please see the next question, where I get into some specific anecdotes, but showering after the end of each day was especially entertaining. Our guesthouse did not have a mirror and every one of us underestimated the amount of color on our faces as we scrubbed our bodies clean. Emerging from the bathroom, “clean”, one would be met to a chorus of uproars from the others, at the amount of color and grime still caked on our faces! It took about a week before I was finally “color free”! As for my clothes, I found that they belonged best in the rubbish bin.

Question 4: What were the top 3 highlights from that night?

So many crazy and chaotic things happened over the course of the two days that we were there but a few moments stick out in my mind.

  1. Joining in the dance party with some of the Indian teenagers during the parade in Mathura on the afternoon of the 23rd. Some of the floats had speakers attached to them, and spectators (myself included), joined in the streets for a wild dance party!
  2. Some of the Indian kids were very aggressive. One particular kid tried to wrestle my can of silly foam right out of my hand. I held on tight and tried to spray him as payback, but he darted around a corner and out of sight. I turned to walk away and a few seconds later heard some shouting. I turned around and saw that some of his friends had caught him and held him down to give him a good spraying to teach him a lesson!
  3. Making our way to the epicenter of the celebration in Vrindavan on the morning of the 23rd. Set in the courtyard of the Banke Bihari temple, the crowd gathered there formed a mosh pit, as the priest stood above tossing color into the air. I couldn’t handle being there for more than a few minutes before needing to go somewhere less crowded.

Question 5: What advice can you give for anyone else that wants to attend this event and party like you did?

I have a few tips for anybody interested in attending the Holi Festival in Vrindavan and Mathura. First, be sure to wear clothes that you don’t plan to wear ever again, as they will get destroyed during the festival. I recommend buying cheap clothes once here in India-preferably white, as it will show the colors the best! Also be sure to bring (or buy) a pair of inexpensive sunglasses to protect your eyes, as one shouldn’t expect mercy and cheap shots have been known to happen. Bring a go pro or wrap your camera in plastic to be able to capture the memories. Lastly, prepare to have a blast and to be given a lot of special attention for being a foreigner!

Question 6: I claim Seoul to have the best nightlife in the world, as I have been living here for the last 1.5 years… Which city do you think has the best nightlife?

That’s a tough one. I’m going to have to go with Barcelona. I was able to visit there for a few days when I studied for a semester in London a few years back. The memories (or lack thereof), are a blur of dancing and bright lights in the many discotheques! Spaniards prefer to begin their night out around 1 or 2 am, and often go until the sun comes up the following morning!

Thank you Chris for sharing about Holi! Have you ever been to Holi? Please share your comments below!

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