Attending the Holi festival in India was high up on our bucket list, and this year we were finally able to check it off. Prior to going to India we did our research on how to get an India Visa on Arrival, booked all of our hotels in Delhi & Jaipur, booked our bus tickets from Delhi to Jaipur, how to protect our DSLR camera during Holi, booked Holi festival tour, BUT I never researched tips for girls attending Holi festival.
After attending the Holi festival, I quickly learned I should have done many things differently. Within 5 mins of being in a rickshaw and being pelted with colors. I knew there were several things I should have done better to prepare myself. Here I sit 3 weeks later with stained pink hair, and if I had only would have done a few things differently.
Girls Guide to Holi Festival | 6 Tips
1. Dress Appropriately
Being a female in India you’re going to get extra unwanted attention anyways, and being a foreign female tourist you will be a prime target in India. Make sure to cover up as much as possible.
As you can see I wore long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, and a tank top under. The tank top was because I knew that water was going to be thrown on me and I didn’t want to look like a wet T-shirt contestant. Also the more covered you are the less skin you are submitting to possibly being stained, I didn’t leave with stained skin but several people in our group did.
Even with my outfit, I got sexually assaulted many times, several random boob & butt grabs from local Indian men. If you are wearing revealing clothes I can only imagine you will bring even more attention to yourself. I would also advise to not hug the local men, as this gives them a better chance to grab your breasts, and don’t be afraid to push them away from you.
If you do get grabbed I screamed at them and called them out on what they just did. They need to know what they are doing is not right, and that you will not tolerate it.
2. Protect Your Hair
This was my biggest and most costly mistake. 3 weeks after the Holi festival and parts of my hair are still that color pink. I have done everything to remove, spent $150 at the salon trying to color treat, put highlights over it…my stylist says it is stained and I have to cut it out or what for it to grow out. So pink hair it is for an undetermined amount of time…
If you are a blonde your hair is most likely going to stain, take all the precautions you can that is unless you’d like pink hair. Brunettes you shouldn’t as much trouble, but I wouldn’t risk it I still would protect your hair.
Tip: Wear your hair up or if possible wear a wrap around your hair using either a bandana, cheap head wrap, an old t-shirt, anything to protect your hair! If you can minimize the amount of hair exposed you will be much better off. Also putting oils in your hair prior to the event can reduce the amount of staining.
3. Wear Goggles
I swear locals try to get the powder in your eyes, even with my glasses I got powder in my eyes too many times. Let me tell you it burns, and really fogs up your vision for a few minutes. There were a few people on my tour that had no glasses at all, they were in pain I could tell.
I would bring a cheap pair of sunglasses, do not bring your nice Ray-bans as they might get stolen and there is always the chance that they will get stained. If you can pick up a cheap pair of swimming goggles this would be best, they won’t fall off your face and people won’t be able to rip them off your head, the downside is you may get picked on with the colors even more with them on.
4. Wear a Mask
See those lovely green teeth, I am VERY lucky they aren’t stained green. I did like the way my colorful face photographed but at the same time really didn’t like the I was getting blasted in the mouth with powders with who knows what in them.
I consumed too much-colored powder, a mask would have really helped. If you can I would bring a mask to cover your mouth at least for a portion of the festival.
5. Go with a Group
Go with a group, and better yet a Holi festival tour with a local Indian guide to help you around town and ensure you have a great time celebrating the Holi festival. Traveling as a group is more fun and it will help protect you and your breasts from harassment during the Holi festival in India.
I wouldn’t advise going to the Holi festival as a solo female, at least make some friends at your hostel and go out as a group. We booked a Holi Festival tour with Viator who organized the local guide, hotel, meals, transportation, color, and few sights along the way.
If you book an Airbnb see if the host is going to a Holi festival or possibly throwing one at the house. Many locals throw their own Holi festival with friends & family as opposed to going to the streets. This would be the ideal place to celebrate Holi in India.
Airbnb first-timers, get $40 credit when you book your first trip! –>> sign up here!
6. Paint your Nails
I had painted my fingers and toes a nice shade of pink. However, Adam didn’t have his toenails painted, but the Holi festival took care of that for him. 3 weeks later his toes are still stained a light pink. Everyone I saw who didn’t paint their nails all got stained. This is a quick and easy precaution, so do it!
7. Protect your Camera
If you plan on bringing out your camera to get some epic portraits of the Holi festival you need to plan ahead. DO NOT bring your camera out without any water/powder protection unless it is a GoPro. Hold on tight to your GoPro, I had mine on a selfie-stick and someone reached into our rickshaw and tried to steal it from me.
Adam had an amazing setup for his DSLR camera, he is what he did to protect his DSLR for the Holi festival.
Girls Guide to Holi Festival Summary
Experiencing the Holi festival in India is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and really glad I did it. I wish however, I had read a “Girls Guide to Holi Festival” beforehand. I would have been better prepared myself. Follow these 7 important tips and you should have an amazing time in India for the Holi festival. Travel safe ladies!
Monday 17th of April 2017
Wow killer girls guide to Holi, Good stuff. We spent 4 weeks in India on a whirlwind itinerary visiting 6 different regions yet only really scratching the surface of this complex and diverse country.
Wednesday 19th of April 2017
So jealous you guys made it to 6 different regions of India. We only had 10 days and could have easily spent 10 months in the country. Safe travels.
Wednesday 4th of May 2016
Your post is very informative if you are participating in this even. Also interesting to read the comments of others, particularly from those who celebrate this as a family event, in contrast to what a tourist can experience.Looks like you all had fun though!
Friday 18th of March 2016
I'm so glad that I found your Blog. I'm going to India next week with my boyfriend (for the first time) and when we booked our flight (with a tour operator!) we didn't know, that we will be in India during Holi cause nobody told us... I'm really concerned about the sexual harassment. Can you tell me, how many days Holi is celebrated? I read that it lasts for two days but what about the color-throwing? Does it also happen during the days before and after Holi?
Thank you so much! Katharina
Tuesday 7th of July 2015
Well done, good guide! you addressed some issues we and our other friends had no idea about prior to Holi; everyone had red hair and eyebrows for weeks afterwards... And my teeth sadly stained too from all that smiling.
I'd also add that if you're a girl, call it a day and retreat inside before lunch - since lots of the men drink heavily throughout the morning I found they got more and more handsy with me as the day wore on :(
We didn't do it through a tour but found staying near by (within eye shot) of a family always helped too...
Friday 3rd of April 2015
Hi Hannah, Wonderful advice. You lay it out truthfully and practically. This is a great guide for anyone wanting to take part in the Holi Festival! Wishing you safe and happy travels, Josie