Out of all the amazing places I visited and unique experiences I had during my month-long trip through India, celebrating Holi in Jaipur was most definitely the highlight. Since first finding out about this festival over 5 years ago and celebrating in Calcutta with The Hope Foundation, I’ve been itching to get back to India in March and celebrate the colourful madness all over again.
When I found out Holi would be happening during my trip around The Golden Triangle with TDactive Holidays, I couldn’t have been more excited. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect as the last time I celebrated was in a children’s home in a city at the exact opposite side of the country, so I wasn’t too sure how different it would be to celebrate Holi in Jaipur.
We were checked into a homestay just outside the city, in a quiet and very residential area, which meant we all felt very safe and excited about the celebrations the next day. Our hosts were determined that our group had a memorable Holi and planned the entire celebrations for us.
The night before Holi Festival is the official start of the festival, which represents saying goodbye to bad spirits and Winter and welcoming Spring. All the local residents danced around a massive bonfire in the local park. The fire symbolises burning the devil. Locals gather pieces of wood and large branches to be placed in the fire, and someone will walk around blessing people and rubbing coloured powder on your face. Meanwhile, people stock up on big bags of this coloured powder, food and drinks for the main celebrations the next day.
Our Holi Festival started with the host in our homestay telling us that he had an open bar(!!) up on the rooftop with lots of beer, wine and spirits and we could go upstairs and start the party as soon as we were awake. Beer with breakfast seemed to be the plan of action! Once we heard the sound of drums on the rooftop and saw lots of other tourists arriving at out homestay in celebrate, we knew the party had begun!
Our host was just amazing – he encouraged everyone to have some drinks, join in the dancing and even persuaded most of us to jump in the swimming pool! There was bright coloured powder EVERYWHERE and it was so much fun greeting new people by blowing powder in their direction.
Once things quieted down at the homestay, a few people from our group decided to venture out on onto the streets to see how crazy the party would be there We grabbed a Tuk Tuk and he took is to an area known for having a big Holi party. It was absolute carnage, a very different atmosphere to where we had just come from.
They were blasting out the latest Western pop songs as thousands of people jumped up and down and danced to the music, while water from sprinklers sprayed down on the crown and everyone turned a strange shade of pink. (I’m still trying to get the pink colour out of my hair – almost 18 washes later!) The atmosphere was electric, everyone was unbelievably friendly and it helped but all my worries about being a woman in India at bay. We only stayed for an hour or two then caught a took back to our homestay…time for an hour-long shower to try to turn our skin from pink back to milky white…or some shade in between at least.
Celebrating Holi in Jaipur was magical – it’s such a beautiful city anyway and we felt very safe there. I definitely recommend booking into a homestay with a local family to experience all aspects of the festival – truly an unforgettable experience! Read about beautiful Bikaner for more Rajasthan travel inspiration.