Holi, the Hindu festival of colors happens every spring. It is part Christmas, Fourth of July and Halloween rolled into one. Depending on where you are in India, Holi festivities may go on for an entire week with the main celebration on the day of Holi (this year March 21). I planned my trip to India for March to be there for Holi.
The birthplace of Holi is the city of Mathura, a small town located between Agra and Delhi (it is much closer to Agra than Delhi). Mathura would not be a typical tourist stop on the drive from Delhi to Agra and my recommendation is that if you are not a practicing Hindu, pass on Mathura (unless you are there for Holi).
The Dwarkadheesh Temple is the where the locals come to celebrate Holi. The festivities start early and when I arrived at 9:00 a.m. there was already a raucous crowd at the temple. On Holi locals drink Bhang which is an alcoholic beverage that is often made with marijuana. The drinking starts early on Holi, and my guess is that a good portion of the crowd was wasted by 10:00 a.m. But that is precisely why to go to Holi, to watch thousands of inebriated people throwing colors in the air all having fun. It is an event that shouldn’t be missed.
So am I crazy to travel half way around the world to watch people throwing colored pigment in the air? To me it would be crazy not to experience Holi in person. Holi is a unique event that everyone should experience and words and pictures just don’t capture the moment. With no disrespect to Hemmingway, no writer can substitute what it is like to be in Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls or New Orleans for Mardi Gras or any of the other amazing festivals that occur around the world. So catch the next plane to anywhere and go to whatever event you thought was crazy to travel so far to see.