Mar
22

An intense Holi celebration in Mathura.

My original plan was to not get to India until late March early April. That was before I had been reminded of the Holi Festival that happens each year early March. I immediately changed my plans to make sure I arrived on time. This year the main celebration fell on March 8th.

I’ve mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook and a few people have asked me what it is so here is a quick explanation as to what this festival is:

“Holi is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Holi is also known as festival of Colours. It is primarily observed inIndia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and countries with large Indic diaspora populations following Hinduism. The most celebrated Holi is in the Braj region, in locations connected to the Lord Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon, and Barsana. These places have become tourist destinations during the festive season of Holi. Large parts of South India, however, do not celebrate Holi with the same fervour as in other parts of the country.” – Wikipidedia

I arrived in New Delhi on March 5th where I spent 2 nights getting acquainted to India and boy was that interesting. It was going to be a few of us going to the festival and not one of us had definite plans on how to make it happen. We ended up deciding to just buy a ticket arriving a day early and see how it goes. We all arrived and were hungry walked around town saw many people selling the powders that are used for the festival and as we roamed the back streets were even asked if they can put some on us. It was a nice preview to the good & bad fun that was awaiting us.

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

The next day was the big day and we were all excited. We walked down the main street outside of our hotel and the 1st few moments were nice and playful for all of us. Then as we continued to walk and the crowds got bigger the hostility and aggressiveness towards the women began. They were hugged excessively and while being hugged were grabbed in the ass and breast. Luckily a group of Indian decided to help us and tell us we should go to another part of town to celebrate, so we did just that and made our way to Holi Gate. However upon arriving we realized this was not going to be any safer for the girls and may be worse because the crowds were way bigger. We were taken inside of a random guys parking garage too seek refuge from being attacked. We spent a while there and finally decided we should go out for a bit and enjoy what we can and then come back. When we went out we walked a bit and saw a whole corner filled with tourist being protected by cops. Apparently we weren’t the only ones being aggressively attacked by men and powders.

While we were there we ended up making friends with each other and chatting about our experiences the good and bad and laughing and painting each other with powders as well and snapping many photos. We then decided to head back to the garage we were at because they had offered to feed us. We did and all enjoyed an amazing meal together. None of us really wanted to continue because we were exhausted and it looked like it had already ended anyway.

Here are a few photos from my experience:

 Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

Holi Festival in Mathura!

I took over 300 pictures during the festival and also managed to mess up my camera. I just had to buy a new one. So yeah I am on my 4th camera during this RTW trip.  These aren’t the most amazing images, but I am holdings some of my best for a future IN PHOTOS post when I have time.

As for my experience of Holi I explained above how it went, but my thoughts on it are mixed. I can’t help, but compare it to La Tomatina where I explained it best by saying it’s the best yet worst day of your life. I would say the same for Holi. It is an amazing experience and I loved it, but hated that women cannot enjoy it like a man can. I was able to walk around fine with out being harassed or grabbed, but my friends couldn’t so I couldn’t venture far or leave each other often. I am not complaining, but stating a fact. It’s mixed feeling because some of the locals have the best intentions of just celebrating and wanting to put some powder on you, but then others don’t and want to rub your whole face with a handful. Some would even rub thick wet paint type powder on us. I had a good time and enjoyed myself, but also spent to much time worrying about what would happened if I did this or that.

Celebrating Holi in India had always been something I wanted to do since I heard about this festival a few years ago. Now I did it and am glad, but don’t know if I’d do it again… at least not in Mathura. Have you celebrated Holi in India… what did you think of it? If you haven’t do you want to?

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Comments

  1. looks like an amazing (and colorful :-)) celebration jaime! nice photos
    flipnomad recently posted..FlipNomad’s Photo Thursday – Headless Man in Paris

  2. I want to participate in this festival sooooo badly! LOVE these shots!!!

  3. Looks like you should’ve saved your tomatina goggles for this one! I know I’m definitely done with crowded, chaotic, messy festivals, so if I ever do make it to India, I won’t be participating in this one.
    Ali recently posted..The Great Ocean Road and a Bit of Parrot Poo

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Oh no Ali, the googles would have messed up the fun…lol!!! Oh & yeah I would recommend you to not do this one… even though the crowds were not as bad as La Tomatina… this one is worse for women. The men are just to aggressive and even I felt unsafe at times.I’m so glad though that we did La Tomatina together… that was fun (good & bad).

  4. Sounds like an awesome experience – but that sucks that there were some assholes who were aggressive and couldn’t keep their hands to themselves. You should’ve grabbed them in the crotch and see how they liked it haha!

    Still, amazing photos Jaime – glad you, Val and friends are having an amazing time over there!
    Waegook Tom recently posted..Hiding in Korea

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yeah WT, it did suck that many of them were assholes and very agressive with us. Oh man I didn’t think of grabbing them in the crotch, but truth is none of them were cute anyway…so. Glad you liked the photos.

  5. ‘Barsana’ close to Mathura town approx. 50 km is one of the best town for Holi celebrations.
    Tushar recently posted..What was odometer reading when your motorbike had first tyre puncture?

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Tushar, I never heard of that town. That is good to know if anyone asks me about this I can mention that town.

  6. Man, I would have liked to enjoy this festival if I happened to be there at that time, but it doesn’t seem like a festival to plan a trip around for the scary touchy/feel-iness you noted here for female travelers. And definitely would not attend as a solo traveler. Thanks for the honesty, Jaime!
    Allison recently posted..7 Trips for Sports Lovers Around the World

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Allison if you want to do it I say you should still do it. You have many towns to choose from… it doesn’t have to be here in Mathura. That is for sure I would not recommend it for anyone. Oh & I don’t think I could do India alone anyway…lol!!!

  7. You know I’m eager to participate in Holi!
    Heather recently posted..St. Patrick’s Day: Green + Guinness

  8. Primo… that’s crazy you know it doesn’t surprise me though with the girls unfortunately. I think Mathura is like that though… I wen there and there was no celebration going on and I could see the TOTAL difference on how women were totally different to men and of course i’m referring to mostly the tourist because there’s hardly any Indian females on the street that I saw. Mathura is just a very interesting place I have to say didn’t leave me with the same feeling that other cities in India did. Did you go to the temple though? the security there was crazy when I went but it was interesting to see.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yeah I don’t know why the men in this town are so damn agressive & it just made it a crazy experience of ups & downs. I didn’t make it to the temple… we got there late the 1st day & the 2nd day was oli & after that we were exhausted. Then we left to Agra.

  9. Hey! It was slightly controlled in Jaisalmer but I’m still traumatized. Like you, I have mixed feelings and I’m almost certain I wouldn’t do it again. Not unless I have a bullet proof vest, seriously. :)
    Kieu ~ GQ trippin recently posted..Holi Cow.. Groped in India!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hey Kieu, yeah it’s a bit traumatizing… i think no matter where you go. Sucks and is a bit sad, but it’s out of our control. At least we can say we’ve done it & well that is that. Doubt I’ll ever do it again.

  10. Hello Jaime
    I am living here in Delhi for many years now and can’t even think of celebrating Holi there with my wife and kid even though it’s my own country and I know what rowdy kind of people are there. But I am still interested in celebrating it in Mathura this time…would be good if I can make it.

    Friends,
    Is there anyone else who is interested in coming along with me? We can make a plan together.

    Thanks
    Prashant

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Prashant,

      Oh yes you should try to go if you can. It really is amazing, and an experience of a lifetime. Hope you find a few friends to go with!

  11. Excellent details and photographs. Where else in India you have visited? Keep writing…

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thank you Arun. I spent 3 months in India. I visited so many places. Click on the India link above this post and you will see all my India post. I wrote a lot about India.

  12. Hello,

    Holi is the best and very colorful festivel in india.You are so lucky to participate the festivel in braj. I visited to mathura every year on the great occasion of holi.The most popular place for celebrating the holi is barsana.It is about 45km from mathura.The myth about barsana is that the lord krishna played holi with radha rani there, so if you want to visit again, go to barsana.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I had never heard of Barsana. Thank you so much Ayush for sharing that with me. I will keep that in mind if I go again.

  13. Nice post! I’m in Vrindivan today for Holi and my experience is the same as yours. Festive atmosphere, lots of color. Girlfriend was groped and harassed. Broke a camera. Noticed Indian men disproportionately targeting women. Your post is accurate and honest.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Reo it was just so crazy and shocking to see it all happen. It’s very sad that that is the case, but it is what it is. Wish men wouldn’t be such pigs, but they are all over the world.

  14. Looks like a lot of fun!

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