One of the reasons Chuck and I picked the dates for our India vacation was because it fell over the Hindu spring festival of Holi. You’ve probably seen pictures of people, usually dressed in white, throwing colored powder and water on each other.
The colors are bright and beautiful. Each color actually has its own individual meaning. Red symbolizes fertility and love; blue represents the Hindu God Krishna, and green is for new beginnings and vitality while yellow is a pious feeling.
How much research is too much?
As usual, we followed a bunch of internet vloggers who had been to India during Holi. Unfortunately, the more we watched, the less we wanted to actually participate. We saw ruined cameras, and stories of women being accosted by intoxicated overzealous crowds.
Many people suggested locating a private party or observing from rooftops. After unsuccessfully attempting to find a local party near the hotel in Agra, we decided we would probably be mere observers.
The Best Decision
We knew that with our tour schedule, we would be on the outskirts of Agra the night of the bonfires and on the road a majority of the actual day of Holi. So, for the most part, we were destined to be observers.
While India had nearly no cases of COVID 19 at the time of our tour, hotels and monuments were taking temperatures, masks were pretty prevalent, and hand sanitizer was everywhere. So, we quickly became okay with the idea of not being in the middle of a crowd with people touching our faces and inhaling the colored powder.
The Road to Ranthambore
While driving through Agra, we saw many piles of branches, wood, and dung being stacked in the streets. The night of the full moon, the bonfires were lit, driving out evil, and preparing for the next day’s colorful festivities.
While we didn’t see any bonfires, we could smell them from our hotel. As we made our way to dinner, we saw some results of overindulging. A wrecked car outside our hotel’s gate and an obviously intoxicated driver speeding, braking and sliding were more than enough for us.
In the morning, as we left for the long drive to Ranthambore, we saw splashes of color across the roads, building, and local people. From the very, very young to the very old, everyone is part of the festivities.
During the drive, we watched people in vehicles next to us and walking along the road, everything was brightly colored and beautiful. Watching from a distance was plenty for me.
We made a pitstop at a small restaurant with a shop and some relatively clean bathrooms. The staff there had some colors, and while we were outside relaxing, they were happy to bless us with some color. Many of us wore the white cotton pants and shirts our tour company had given us, so a little color was fun.
We had locals approach us as well when we stopped in the village of Abhaneri at the Chand Baori stepwell and the temple dedicated to Harshat Mata, the goddess of joy and happiness.
Stopping for Lunch
In the afternoon, we stopped along the road at Umaid Lake Palace, where we enjoyed a simple lunch buffet and some local entertainment for Holi. The front lawn of the resort was decorated for Holi, and the grass was covered with a thick mat of a bright pink powder.
Several people from our group joined the locals in dancing and getting covered with the brightly colored powders. It was fun to watch, but we both kept our distance.
Overall it was fun to observe Holi from a distance. We think in different circumstances, we may have jumped in and been part of the festivities.
We absolutely recommend looking for a private party at the hotel or resort where you are staying, or even another local resort.
For Senior Travelers, while locals of all ages seem to participate, we have to recommend travelers not get caught up in the middle of a local crowd.