So many countries, so many customs. If you're about to go on holiday and want to take part in something unique, we suggest a few amazing festivals that are already well-known.
"Holi" - India's Fantastic "Festival of Colors"
Dance, music, spirituality, and, of course, colors. "Holi", also known as the "Festival of Colours", is a hugely popular spring festival in India, Sri Lanka, and Nepal that has gradually spread across the world. The event lasts up to 16 days, including the main day of the festival, known as Dhulhendi. During this time, people fight with colored powders and water.
While it all seems like one big colorful powder fight, you should know that the whole event has symbolic meanings in the Asian world. "Holi" is celebrated at the end of winter on the last full moon day of the month of Phalguna which usually falls in the latter part of February or March.
The substances are made from medicinal herbs and tradition says it cures people of flu and viral fever, illnesses that occur in spring.
The main ingredients of the holiday are Abir and Gulal, in all possible colors. This is followed by the sprinkling of colored water from the pichkari. Colored water is prepared with tesu flowers, which are picked from trees, dried in the sun, and crushed, then mixed with water to produce yellow-orange colored water. Another traditional "Holi" item, now rarer, is a red powder contained in Lakh orbs, which suddenly burst and spread the dust.
The Legend Behind "Holi"
"Holi" means "to burn". There are several legends explaining the meaning of this word, but the most prominent is the one associated with Hiranyakashyap, the Demon King.
Hiranyakashyap wanted every individual in his kingdom to worship only him, but Prahlad, his son, had become a follower of Lord Narayana. His disappointed father then ordered his sister, Holika, to take Prahlad in her arms and carry him through the fire.
Holika had such an ability that allowed her to be untouched by the flames of the fire, but she was not sure it would work on her nephew, yet she decided to do it. Acting on an impulse of malice and blind faith in the Demon King, Holika had passed through the fire but was burned by the flames, while Prahlad, thanks to his firm belief in the Divine, had managed to escape with his life.
The "Holi" festival of colors actually celebrates the triumph of good over evil and also the triumph of faith in something Higher.
"La Tomatina" in Spain
At the end of August, thousands of people bombard each other with over 250kg of tomatoes in a 60-minute span in an event described as the world's biggest tomato fight. Every year, tens of thousands of tourists come to Buniol, near Valencia, for the "La Tomatina" festival.
The event takes place on the last Wednesday of August.
The festival, which has already become famous, started after a group of boys started a street fight with the food they had for lunch, and after a year they met in the same place and this time started throwing food at passers-by.
Today, only tomatoes are used. Ripe and soft, so they don't get hurt.
England's Cheese Rolling Festival
Although it sounds benign and quite fun, the festival is very dangerous. Running madly after a 3kg wheel of cheese rolling down a very steep hill isn't exactly incident-free.
In fact, the police tried to ban the event, but participants refused to abide by the ban.
The cheese wheel reaches very high speeds and it is extremely rare that anyone catches the cheese on the go. In any case, the first one to reach the bottom wins the cheese. Glorious!
Thailand's Monkey Buffet Festival
Every year, hundreds of monkeys in the province are invited to the buffet adorned with 3 tons of fruit and vegetables during an annual feast in Lopburi province, north of Bangkok.
It's not just the monkeys who are jubilant at the prospect of such a feast, but also the tourists who come to this part of the world to see them.
The feast is held in honor of Rama, a hero of the Ramayana who is said to have rewarded his friend and ally, Hanuman, the Monkey King, with a fief similar to the one in Lopburi.
Roswell UFO Festival in the US
The Roswell UFO Festival celebrates the anniversary of the "Roswell Incident", when extraterrestrial debris, including alien corpses, was allegedly recovered from an unidentified object that crashed near Roswell in the US state of New Mexico in 1947.
Since the late 1970s, the incident has been the subject of intense controversy and multiple theories regarding the true nature of the crashed object.
The event brings together experts, authors, researchers, and lecturers to dissect the nebulous incident. The festival includes alien parades, costume contests, and flying balloons.