Holi is an Indian spring festival celebrated in the Indian subcontinent, also known as the “festival of colours”.The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. It is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest.
When is Holi Celebrated?
The day after the full moon in March each year. In 2018, Holi will be celebrated on March 2. The festival takes place a day earlier in West Bengal and Odisha. In addition, in some parts of India (such as Mathura and Vrindavan) festivities commence a week or so earlier.
How is Holi Celebrated?
People spend the day smearing colored powder all over each other’s faces, throwing colored water at each other, having parties, and dancing under water sprinklers. Bhang (a paste made from cannabis plants) is also traditionally consumed during the celebrations.
Holi’s different celebrations come from various Hindu legends. One story tells the story of how god Vishnu saved his follower Prahlada from a pyre while Prahlada’s evil aunt Holika burned. This is why the night before the Holi festival, a Holika bonfire is burned to celebrate the victory of good over evil.
Similar to Holi, the Dol Jatra celebrations in West Bengal and Odisha are dedicated to Lord Krishna. However, the mythology is different. The festival celebrates the love that Krishna is believed to have expressed to Radha on that day. Idols of Radha and Krishna are carried around in procession on specially decorated palanquins. Devotees take turns swinging them. The idols are also smeared with colored powder. Of course, colors are thrown at people on the streets too!
1. Battle of Wine
No prizes for guessing what this one’s about. Haro Wine Festival takes place every year in the town of Haro in the La Rioja region of northern Spain. It involves wine drinking competitions and contests and a Batalla de Vino (Battle of Wine) where wines are poured at each other from buckets. Aww yeah !!!!
2. The Orange Battle In Italy
Celebrated in the Northern Italian city of Ivrea , the Battle of the Oranges is a festival similar to our very own Holi. Instead of colors, people throw oranges on each other. It is also the largest food fight in Italy. Like most events, the roots of this ritual too are steeped in history. Back in the 12th century, the town was ruled by a cruel and oppressive Count who was infamous for forcing himself onto the village’s brides on the night they were married. He did this till, one day, a bride managed to overpower him and cut off his head. The town consequently burst into celebrations and then fought with the ruler’s army to complete their victory.Since then, each year, the residents of Ivrea divide themselves into nine teams and re-enact the battle by attacking each other with oranges. There are many explanations for why oranges were used, the most popular one being that they signify parts of the male anatomy. The other one being that the people threw stones at the army, so in the later years, as part of the reenactment, oranges were used as they were in abundant supply in the region.After the “battle”, everyone joins in the fun turning the streets into rivers of sweet orange juice.
3. ‘The Tomato Battle’ or ‘La Tomatina’ in Bunol, Spain
La Tomatina is a food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in the town of Bunol near to Valencia in Spain. The highlight of the food festival is the tomato fight which takes place between 11am to 1pm on that day. Thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to fight in this ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight’ where more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes are thrown in the streets.This festival has been a strong tradition in Bunol since 1944 or 1945. No one is completely certain how this event originated but one popular theory is that disgruntled townspeople attacked city councilmen with tomatoes during a town celebration and it was enjoyed so much that it was repeated the next year, and the year after that, and so on.
4. Mud Festival in Boryeong, South Korea
Holi in India, at times gets muddy, but in the Boryeong, a town around 200 km south of Seoul, South Korea, it’s all about mud, when they celebrate Mud Festival. It is an annual festival which takes place during the summer.If you want to see mud-slinging in its most tactile form, go to South Korea in July. Having gained a lot of popularity in the recent past, this mud festival, held in the beach town of Boryeong, is attended by Koreans and tourists alike.It is believed that the mud flats of Boryeong’s beaches are extremely rich in minerals which are used in the manufacture of cosmetics. In fact, herein lies the reason for the festivals origin, it was actually a marketing initiative launched to educate people about the qualities of Boryeong’s mud.Now, it has turned into a tourist attraction where, if official figures are to be believed, almost 30 lakh people flock to the beach town and partake in two weeks of fun-filled activities. These include mud massages, mud baths, mud air-bounce, mud fall adventures etc.
5. Clean Monday Flour War Carnival, Greece
There’s nothing clean about The Clean Monday festival that’s held in Galaxidi in Greece. Usually celebrated in early March, this marks the beginning of the 40-day Lent period. On this day, revellers paint their faces and pelt fistfuls of colored flour at each other. Sacks and sacks of flour (some 1,500 kgs of it) are used; by the end of the day everyone looks they’ve been through some gigantic flour mill. Precautions are advised and taken. Goggles, masks and even hoods are worn to avoid getting the powder in the mouth, nose and eyes. This festival has been celebrated for more than 200 years. Legend has it that the people of Galaxidi started this as a rebellion against the Ottoman rulers. Clean Monday is also called Ash Monday, so one theory is that the coloured flour could have signified ash.
6. Chinchilla Watermelon Festival in Australia
Chinchilla is a town in the Darling Downs region of Queensland, Australia which is also known as the ‘Melon Capital of Australia’. There is a Melon Festival every second year in February, where events like Melon Bulls eye, Melon Skiing, Melon Chariot, Melon Bungee, Melon Ironman, a pip spitting competition, and melon eating races take place. But the most exciting is Melon Head Smashing – cracking open as many watermelons as possible using only the head. The next Watermelon Festival is to be held in 2019.
7. Songkran festival in Thailand
The traditional New Year in Thailand is celebrated from 13 to 15 April every year and this celebration is known as Songkran festival. Closest to our Holi in its concept, Songkran festival is all about throwing water on each other. Children, especially, love this 3-day festival during which they carry around water-guns (much like our pichkaris) squirting all and sundry. Many also use buckets filled with ice-cold water to douse unsuspecting people-especially the police.The story about why water is used is because, in the olden days, Songkran was the time when statues of Lord Buddha were brought out to be cleaned with water. This water was collected and sprinkled on by families on each other for prosperity and good luck. As time passed, the sprinkling turned into dousing and then into fun water fights. Understandably, this is now the most loved part of Songkran.
8.La Merengada (Spain)
Spanish people know how to create hot mess, don’t they? From oranges to tomatoes, they leave nothing behind. How could sweet nothing be left far behind? The Batalla de Caramelos also known as Candy Fight takes place every year on Fat Thursday in a small town near Barcelona. People usually eat cod fish with red pepper sauce and after that throw their meringue dessert at each other. Once the meringue is finished, the candy starts to fly.
9.Glastonbury Music Festival (Britain)
One of the greatest music festivals in Britain, the crowd, the music and the atmosphere simply makes you fall in love with the event. What’s the best part about the event, it’s mud. The messiness along with good music is simply an icing on the cake. You don’t need to buy a cool outfit to attend this festival, at the end of the day, it is going to be covered by mud.
So, if you live in a faraway country and are missing your beloved India’s Holi, simply book a ticket to one of these places, whichever is nearby and celebrate the Firang version of Holi!!! Also please let us know in the comments below about various other festivals apart from these 9 crazy holi like festivals that you are aware of.