25 Tips to Celebrate Holi in India as a Solo Female Traveller
India is a country with people from diverse cultures and beliefs. With the diversity in culture and belief comes a lot of festivals too. One such is the festival of colours – Holi. It signifies the triumph of good over evil, just like Diwali, and is celebrated by over a billion people, usually in March. It is a two-day festival, the first day is called Chhoti Holi, and the next one is Holi.
Everyone is free to participate in the festival, man or woman, rich or poor, children and everyone else. People smear each other’s faces with colours and drench each other with water. Water guns, balloons are also used in the play. If you are planning to travel to India during the spring season, you will not be disappointed! The festive mood of the people will bring a smile to your face and will pep up your mood immensely. The best part about this festival is that it is celebrated all over the country and you won’t have to travel to a particular place to experience it.
There are also a lot of seasonal shops that are put up during this time. And taking home some souvenirs is not going to be a problem at all. All that said and done, here are some tips for celebrating Holi in India that I think you might find helpful.
1. Where should you celebrate Holi?
Even though Holi is celebrated all over India, you cannot go to every place in the country. You need a specific place (like, duh!) to celebrate the festival of colours. I have shortlisted four places, and you can choose the one according to your preference.
|Why should you go here?
|Biggest celebration, but not a ‘real’ one
|A small holy city with a welcoming atmosphere and fun vibe
|Spiritual celebration and authentic experience
|Crowded streets with a crazy atmosphere
2. Book your hotel in advance
I assume that you already know this, but just in case. Do not forget to book your hotel before leaving your place so that you can have a hassle-free experience during your visit to India. You will also not have to go and hunt for places to stay if you book a hotel beforehand. This will not only save your time but will also save you some money if you book a hotel well in advance.
3. Hindi phrases FTW in Northern India!
Learning some Hindi phrases will not only make your overall experience in Northern India much better but will also save you from all the tourist scams. During festivals and large gatherings, tourists are a target, and learning the local language can make a bigger impact than you think.
4. Find a local guide or people to celebrate with!
If you find it tough to make some friends, hire a local guide that you can team up with. This way, you will be able to enjoy the festival without any unnecessary problems like unknown people throwing colours at you in the name of Holi. You can also look out for families or private compounds via Airbnb or any online platform where you can safely celebrate Holi and learn about the festival.
5. Go early to play
The major celebrations happen early in the morning and start to die off around noon. People finish playing around this time and head back home. Restaurants and cafes also open around this time, and people go here for snacks or lunch. I would recommend that you go out to play Holi sometime after your breakfast.
6. Eat and drink something before heading out!
Trust me, playing Holi will drain your energy completely. And if you decide to skip your breakfast, you have probably made the worst decision of your trip. Have your breakfast just like you would on a regular day and eat something extra if you typically don’t have a heavy breakfast. This will provide enough energy for you to enjoy the festival rather than searching for food during the celebration.
7. Use chemical-free powders
I need not explain why. You will be playing with colours and will have it all over your body, including your face. To avoid any allergies, use coloured powders that are free of chemicals. Do ask others if the powders are chemical-free or plant-based before playing with them. And if you are buying them yourself, make sure you buy the ones which are chemical-free and plant-based.
8. Do not wear your brand-new clothes!
Once you are done playing, you will have colour all over your body, hair, and clothes. While the colour remains for a couple of days on the body, it stays forever on the clothes, which makes the piece of cloth useless. Do not wear your favourites and go out to play Holi! Pick clothes that you do not wish to wear anymore.
9. Wear white during Holi
It is a tradition to wear white during Holi because the colours on a white piece of cloth look better than on any other colour. When you are done playing, you will see every colour on your clothes, and that looks beautiful! Ideally, an old thick, loose white top/kurti should do the job as you will be playing with colours, water guns, and water balloons. Yay, everything sounds like my kind of a fun day!
10. Sunglasses are your best friends!
While playing Holi, nobody is going to apply a bit of colour on your cheeks carefully. While playing, a bit of colour goes here and there, and it might enter your eyes as well. And not to mention, there is also going to be a bit of colour in the air. While the colour is not fatal, it can cause irritation to your eyes. To avoid all of this, consider wearing a pair of sunglasses while playing Holi.
11. Moisturise yourself
One of my friends told me about this hack, and it does wonders! Just apply some moisturizer on your face, arms, neck, and everywhere else on the body where you think that the powdered colour can touch your body. And once you are done playing, washing off the colour will be much easier. While this will not clean the colours off your body completely, it is much better than not using a moisturizer!
12. Take care of your hair!
Just like your body, your hair will be full of colours once you are done playing. And it can take a week or two for the colour to come off completely. To minimize the effects of colours on your hair, I suggest that you apply a bit of oil to your hail before heading out. If you have longer hair, I suggest that you tie your hair after applying oil and use a shower cap or headscarf too. This one is for the ladies out there who take extra care of their hair!
13. If you don’t want colour all over your body – don’t go out!
You can definitely say no if you do not want to indulge in playing heavily with colours, but do not expect to come back home without a dot of colour on yourself. If you are not fine with colours all over yourself, I would recommend that you stay home. If you are lucky, you can watch everyone else play from a higher floor of a friend’s place or your hotel.
14. Know what Bhang is…
It is a drink made from an edible preparation of cannabis and is widely distributed during the festival of colours. Many bhang shops are authorised by the Government, but some are not. I would recommend you to stay away from the drink as you never know what goes inside it and what does not.
15. Avoid big crowds
While playing Holi with a lot of people is fun, a bigger crowd might include youngsters with unruly behaviour. Foreigners and visitors are an easy target because they do not know anyone in the locality. I have heard a lot of bad stories, and when a victim files a complaint legally, the higher authorities might brush it off by saying, “bura na mano Holi hai,” which translates to “don’t mind, it’s Holi!” If you are travelling solo to India for the first time, I have some more tips for you.
16. Beware of flying eggs!
Some youngsters throw around eggs in the name of Holi while playing with water. Not only does an egg hurt, but it can also ruin your mood. Make sure that people do not indulge in this before playing Holi. This will keep you away from such weird incidents. Also, consider wearing a headscarf not only to save yourself from eggs but also your hair from colours!
17. Don’t be afraid to say NO!
If you do not wish to be smashed with colours in your face, or do not wish to play with water balloons, or do not want to dance with someone, or whatever, just say NO! You will definitely be offered the famous drink – bhang. So, stick to your boundaries and be firm with your response.
18. Ask for help if you need one
There are a lot of volunteers at large gatherings who are always ready to help anyone in need, especially tourists. Sometimes, fights break out during the dance and play, and these volunteers ensure that women are safe during these times. The people who indulge in wrongdoings will be escorted away immediately. Just ask for help, and don’t worry, you will find many volunteers.
19. Only take what’s necessary
When you are heading out to play, only take the absolutely necessary things. This would include your phone, wallet, water bottle, and a couple of other things. Carry a waterproof cover or bag, if possible. Do not take things that you wouldn’t need! While playing, just put your belongings in a bag and keep the bag in a secure place.
20. Take care of your belongings
If you find a family to celebrate Holi with, you are probably the luckiest person alive. But if not, make sure you take care of your belongings, especially the electronics. If possible, consider not carrying your phone if your hotel is nearby. This way, you will have one less thing to worry about! You can secure your wallet (probably a good waterproof one!) in your pocket.
21. Wet wipes are a life saviour!
Once you are done playing, it is a nice idea to wipe off all the colour as soon as possible. And what better way than wet wipes? I learnt this quite late in life, but I am here to save you. If the colour stays on your face for too long, even the chemical-free ones can cause irritation on some skin types. So, carry your wet tissues without fail. You can thank me later in the comments below!
22. Don’t be afraid to socialize
Holi is one such festival that is not fun without people. You simply cannot play it all by yourself. Being friendly with local people will enhance your overall experience. I am not telling you to go and make lifelong friends, but just talk to a few, and you will find a lot of friendly people out there. Indians are quite friendly, you see!
23. Take a break if you feel tired!
Dancing and playing for hours is not an easy task, even if you are an athlete. If you feel tired in the middle of the celebration, take a break or visit a café if it is open. If not, just step aside and inform your friends that you need a break and will be back in a bit. The rooftop restaurants are a great place to relax and watch others enjoy.
24. Come back and take a shower the right way!
Do not forget to apply moisturizer over your body to reduce the colour stains. But after coming back, I recommend you have a cold-water shower to remove the colour off. Some locals suggested me to use curd to remove colour stains, and it worked quite well too.
25. Don’t forget to have fun!
Nothing is worth it if you do not have fun. Do not forget to enjoy while playing this beautiful festival—all the music, dance, colours, and atmosphere is one hell of an experience! Make the most of your time as this festival comes only once a year and nobody knows when you will be able to play Holi again. So, while you are at it, enjoy the moment to its fullest. If you would like to know more about the festival, do check this website.
And the festival of colours come to an end…
Those were some of the few tips that I had for you. Do let me know if you know about any of the tips and tricks that I missed out on. Be cautious and remember not to sacrifice safety in the name of fun and enjoyment. But most importantly, do not forget to enjoy this beautiful festival too. I can assure you that India is a safe place for solo female travellers from around the world. Happy Holi y’all!
So, what is your favourite experience in India?
An introverted blogger who is looking to make unforgettable solo travel memories with one short life.