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Holi — celebrating the victory of virtue over vice

Holi is a prominent Indian festival, celebrated with great pomp and show by Indians all over the world. After all, this lively festival is all about coming together and celebrating with one’s family and friends. In London, Holi is the most-awaited Hindu festivals and is celebrated with loud music, colourful water fountains and parties all over the city. All of that sure makes it one of the best times to visit London.

Clad in whites, relatives flock together and backyards turn into a party zone. Amid all the banter, music, and dance — some cool and refreshing ‘Thandai’ is served. The ‘Thandai’ is a signature drink made on Holi, which is supposed to be a coolant made from milk combined with soaked and ground dry fruits. However, at times, notorious friends and relatives mix intoxicants with this drink, or eatables, only to make the celebrations livelier.

Traditionally, this festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil, and points out at the significance of clinging on to the divine and seeking his shelter. Usually, Indians commence this two-day celebration by burning a pyre on the full moon night, and on the next day — it’s a boisterous affair. If you are wondering how something that starts by burning a pyre transitions into something so festive, read on.

The Legend

There are several legends that are associated with this festival, but the most popular one is the story of Demoness Holika, who tried to kill her nephew Prahalad, upon the behest of her brother Hiranyakashipu. The demon King Hiranyakashipu, was extremely annoyed with his son Prahalad, since the young lad chose to worship Lord Vishnu. The demon King wanted his son to worship him, but all his efforts failed. This angered the demon King so much that he tried to kill his own son, but all his attempts were in vain, since the young lad always prayed to the Lord, and was saved.

So, unable to kill his son, the demon King called upon his sister Holika, who had earned herself immunity from being burnt. Therefore, they built a pyre and Holika sat in it with young Prahlad on her lap, and then set fire to it. Prahlad, who prayed to his deity, walked out of this burning pyre unharmed, while Holika was burnt. Apparently, she was unaware that her boon shielded her from fire, only when alone. Until date, Indians celebrate this festival by burning a pyre of fire on the full moon night, symbolic of burning evil. On the next day, colours are splashed all over, amid fun and frolic to commemorate the victory of good over evil.

How is Holi celebrated in London

In London, the festival of Holi is celebrated within any of the three separate groups — within the Hindu community, within one’s restricted social circle and privately organized Holi parties.

Within the Hindu community

With most people living in condos or shared accommodation in London, numerous gatherings are organized for those who have nowhere else to celebrate this colourful festival. These are organized free of cost, in order to promote and uphold the traditions, within the Indian community in London. The ‘BTCA- Holi Milan 2019’, is one such event, which is being organized by the Bromley Temple Trust for the convenience of those hailing from the Bromley and Kent areas.

Within one’s restricted social circle

These are backyard celebrations, which begin on the full moon night, by burning a pyre and praying. This is followed by colourful celebrations on the next day, and is something that almost everyone looks forward to. With small jets, youngsters spray coloured water on each other, but only after they respectfully smear some dry colours on the forehead or cheek of the elderly. With that, the fun begins and this festival of Spring, which is nothing short of a day-long party, comes to life.

What do Non-Indians in London do to celebrate Holi?

Usually, for the non-Indians, it is all about having fun, but the celebrations are a paid event. So, one has to buy a ticket to participate in this event, which includes a bonfire, followed by colours splashing all over. So depending upon the organizer and the venue, the event would be celebrated. These are organized almost all over London, in restaurants, bars and many more places. You can expect live music from the Bollywood singers, cocktails, dance floor and much more. Typically, the tickets range between £5 and £20, and is celebrated all through the week. Since most of these events are held over the weekends, you can still manage to get the early bird discount by purchasing the tickets online.

Best places to visit in India during Holi

If you are keen on visiting India during Holi, you have a tough choice to make. While Varanasi is the best choice when it comes to learning and observing the Hindu tradition and culture, Vrindavan is highly acclaimed for its rich heritage and ancient temples. On the other hand, Udaipur in Rajasthan is indeed the royal way of celebrating Holi.

For an exemplary experience, consider booking your stay at one of the Palaces turned resorts, in Udaipur, Rajasthan. Most leading Indian resorts organize a private Holi parties, so, you don’t have to worry about finding a place to celebrate it. In fact, the natives stick to celebrating this festival amid friends and relatives, just to be on the safer side.

Whether you choose to visit India or stick to one of the privately organized events in London, you definitely cannot miss out on the fun and frolic that comes with this occasion. Moreover, when it comes to rejoicing an event with your loved ones, the origin of it really doesn’t matter. A fact, that is quite evident by the manner in which it is celebrated, and even organized, by non-Indians in Europe.

Celebrate Holi with Small World

In Small World we want to be part of this celebration. Enjoy one transfer-fee free digital money to India and Nepal between the 20 th and the 21 st of March. You will need to use the promotional code HOLI