A Beginners Guide to Holi Festival in Varanasi
We thought we would hate Varanasi, and were bricking it about the bonkers festival of colour they call Holi. But it was without question, one of the highlights of our trip. If you follow the blog, you'll know that we barely spend more than 2 days anywhere, but similarly to Hampi, we kind of fell in love with crazy Varanasi and ended up staying for 5 days. Basically, we totally recommend going -- and if you can be there for Holi, even better. We were lucky, as we knew we would be meeting up with our NFF's Ruth and
but we also ended up forming a motley crew of coupled up travellers who were all dressed up with nowhere to go and had an amazing experience.
We were complete Holi virgins, and were pretty nervous about Varanasi in general but it was a highlight of our trip so far. When we knew we were going to be in Varanasi for Holi, we wanted to know things but couldn't find any decent info online, and as per, the Lonely Planet was less than helpful. The one thing we had all heard, was that it gets crazier as the day goes on, so it's not advisable for westerners to go out later than around 12pm. When we got to Varanasi, all the locals told us to go out after 3, as the morning is bonkers! Based on this, the core four (Ruth, Gav, Oli and me) decided to hang out on the roof of our guesthouse, Teerth, until after 3. But the night before, Teerth enforced a lock in, for our own safety......eeeek.
We didn't want to be stuck inside all day, missing out (FOMO strikes again) so we added four more winners to our gang, tooled ourselves up with ammo (paint, water and rum) and headed out on the streets to join the party. So if you want to have a happy Holi, like we did, we think there are a few things you can do to make it happen. These are our top tips for enjoying Holi in Varanasi.........
- Stock up on snacks and drinks. . Most of the shops , cafés and everywhere that sells alcohol close on the day of Holi, so you need to get some provisions in at least the day before. A lot of places open up and start serving food again after 5, so we just made sure we had enough water, biscuits , crisps to last us until then.
Cover yourself with coconut oil! The Holi ammo is a mixture of brightly coloured powder and water, which stains, so put a good base of natural coconut oil all over your face and hair at least as it's a pain to scrub off! The lovely Chris and Charlotte provided us with this tip......
- If you're a woman, don't go out by yourself, but even if you are with a group -- be wary of Indian men trying to hug you....particularly as the day goes on. That's where you are most likely to get an unwelcome grope. If it does happen, do what I did and give the offending specimen a fat clip round the ear.
Do brave the streets in the morning, it's a great vibe and sooooo much fun to throw water bombs and be a kid again. Give as good as you get and chuck paint to your hearts content (not at people who don't aren't playing Holi obviously) but....
Do find a good rooftop to observe the impending madness as Indians drink like rowdy Brits on a Friday night. By about 11am, we saw some crazy fights and there were a fair few people who looked like were heading for the hangover from hell.
If you can, and this may be a trickier one, do what we did and hang out with the locals! Our lovely hosts welcomed us into their house (with a rooftop) and provided snacks, a toilet, and some bonkers tunes for us all to dance to. Seriously, Indian people know how to party.
Break for Lunch! The party winds down around lunchtime, and people head hometown refuel, have a nap and get cleaned up. The party is then a bit more civilised with families coming out in new clothes minus the paint.
Any questions, please ask away! Happy Holi!!!!!
L & O x