How to celebrate Holi at home

26 Mar 2021
By Hazel M., Freelance writer, journalist and total bookworm at Unite Students

Big holidays just aren’t the same this year and, unfortunately, Holi is no exception. And, let’s be honest, trying to celebrate it at home isn’t going to be particularly easy, either.

Don’t lose hope just yet, though. Here, I’ve pulled together some Holi-inspired ideas that you can do at home, even if you can’t experience the real thing.

What is Holi?

At its core, Holi is an ancient Hindu festival, which celebrates the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil.

Taking place over the course of a night and a day (28 - 29 March), the first night, Jalanewali Holi, is normally dedicated to religious rituals and prayers, while the second day is celebrated as Rangwali Holi – the festival of colours.

Today, it’s the second part of this sacred festival that has become particularly well-celebrated and, despite its origins deeply rooted in India (where it’s still widely recognised as a religious festival), it’s a tradition which has now swept the world.

Why has it become so massively celebrated on a global scale? Well, essentially, Rangwali Holi is a day for celebration and fun, with music and dancing and – perhaps most notably – a paint-filled free-for-all. Revellers are encouraged to drench themselves in water and then throw coloured powders at each other, making this one of the most colourful festivals on the planet (and, seriously, who wouldn’t want to get involved with that?).

In India, this usually takes place across streets, parks and temples, where everyone and anyone is fair game. However, here in the UK, some of the biggest celebrations inspired by Holi are now held in stadiums to accommodate huge stages for musicians and DJs, with masses of people in one space, or even as fun runs.

So, it’s no surprise that, during lockdown, celebrating this exciting event is just not going to happen as normal. If you want to join in the celebrations, but don't think the religious rituals and prayers are for you, here's how you can take part.

Hold your own mini Holi with your bubble

If you’ve got access to a decent outdoor space, can order some colourful paint powders online and have some water pistols lying around, hold your own Holi. Throw on some music and dance around the garden with those in your bubble.

Just note that you’ll probably want to make sure your paint is washable and environmentally friendly so you don’t destroy your outdoor space. And, if you’re based at rented accommodation, it’s probably a good idea to get the landlord’s permission, too!

Chow down on some traditional Holi food

A big part of the Indian festivities is always the food. So, why not indulge in some traditional Holi gourmet? From the classic Holi dessert of gujiya, a sweet fried dumpling, to crispy dough wafers in the form of papri chaat, the delicious food options are endless.

This is a great way to put a new twist on another night in, so get the flatmates together and start cooking.

Get creative with your canvas

So, it might not be possible to throw paint at your mates this year… especially if it’s not something your flatmates are into. But don’t let that stop you playing with paints altogether. Get some dust sheets (or something else to cover up the floors and furniture) and invest in a canvas.

Then, start your art project. Throw paint at the canvas and embrace the freedom of creativity, or harness your inner artist for something more refined. It’s also a good opportunity to research the traditional colours of Holi (red, blue, yellow and green) and find out more about what each represents during the festivities.

Do your research

And that brings us nicely onto the most important thing you can do this Holi if you’re not already familiar with it – understand what it actually is.

It can be easy to get swept up in the paint-filled fun of Holi, but do you really know what it’s about? I’ve already given you a short summary of what it is, but this is a really good time to brush up on the history of this Hindu tradition and do your research.

Invest in some online reading time, check out some traditional music or even scour the net for some Holi-related films and documentaries. You may be surprised (and inspired) by what you learn.

For more ideas on how to make the most of lockdown at home, or how to get support if you’re feeling down, don’t forget to head over to the Common Room.

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When not stringing words together, can usually be found on the local beach with her cocker spaniel pup, Huey.