The Colors of Holi Filled Your Life With a new openness
- Lath Mar Holi, Barsana
As the legend goes Krishna, went to Radha’s village to tease her, and was chased away by the Gopinis(women) of Barsana, which today also host the only temple dedicated to Radha Rani. Hence, Holi here is celebrated not just as a festival of colors, but as an epitome of cultural triumph were women were independent to decide to reject even the God while the God is bound to listen and follow. The present tradition follows with women playfully hitting men with sticks, while the men cover their head and try to seek their attention by singing songs to ask forgiveness for any wrong they did to them and at the same time tease them. Of the countless versions of Holi that there are, this one is not to be missed to witness this amazing culture ladies! Lathmar Holi takes place around a week before the main day of Holi. It’s worth getting to Barsana a couple of days in advance of Lathmar Holi so that you can also experience Laddoo Holi festivities there. Sweets are thrown around and spiritual songs related to Radha and Krishna are sung.
- Dol Purnima or Basant Utsav, West Bengal and Purulia
Holi put a new color to its own form in West Bengal, by the name of “Dol Jatra”, “Dol Purnima” or the “Swing Festival”. Here the festival is celebrated in a much dignified manner by placing the icons of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city or the village. On the particular day in the early morning, traditionally boys and girls, students dress up in saffron-robes or in pure white clothes, wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments like ektara, dubri, veena, etc. During these activities, the men and women keep spraying coloured water and abir, at each other.
A three-day Basant Utsav folk festival of the Purulia district in West Bengal is famous for its uniqueness as you could get along to sing and play Holi with the locals, as well as enjoy a wide variety of unique Bengal folk arts. This includes the remarkable chau dance, darbari jhumur, natua dance, and songs of West Bengal’s wandering Baul musicians. What makes the festival special is that it’s organised by villagers themselves who believes it as a way of cultural and self sustainance. The location is around 5-6 hours by train from Kolkata.
- Hola Mohalla, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
Sikhi is another great tradition of India who have incorporated elements of all religion to bring a much eclectic view towards life. Experience Holi the Sikh way in Anandpur Sahib, Hola Moholla as it is known as is indeed a great place to witness the Nihangs(warrior sikhs) in Blue/Saffron robes displaying their skills by enacting mock battles at the side of riverbed of Charan Ganga, throw colors on each other and immerse in the nostalgia of the same. Watch every home decorated with Chow Purana (a form of Rangoli). The art commonly practiced by the Women and Girls of the house hold includes drawing tree motifs, flowers, ferns, creepers, plants, peacocks, palanquins, geometric patterns along with vertical, horizontal and oblique lines. These arts forms greatly add to the overall festive atmosphere. Its a must visit for anyone who loves to experience the true Indian spirit and how this land of diversity keeps up with each other, inspiring and glorifying itself.
- Royal Holi, Udaipur
In Rajasthan Holi is followed by Holika Dahan (Holika Bonfire) the night before the festival is celebrated. The Holika Bonfire of the Jagdish Temple in Udaipur is of special importance for its utter magnanimity and beauty. The celebration of colors takes the day after when all social differences are dissolved and you enjoy the utter bliss under the effect of Bhang, and colors which makes you forget all differences in the world become one with that absolute.
- Traditional Holi At Mathura & Vrindavan
Mathura and Vrindavan, the place where Krishna himself played Holi with Radha and his friends (Gopi and Gopiya) is a must to experience of a life time. The festivities here may last more than a week. The rituals go beyond playing with colours, and include a day where men go around with shields and women have the right to playfully beat them on their shields with sticks. After a day of play with colours, people clean up, wash and bathe, sober up and dress up in the evening and greet friends and relatives by visiting them and exchanging sweets. Holi is also a festival of forgiveness and new starts, which ritually aims to generate harmony in the society. The Holi celebrations at the famous Banke-Bihari Temple is a must watch to experience the crowd’s enthusiasm for their beloved Lord Krishna. Everyone who is a human is touched by the utter devotion that they can only experience here.
- Basantotsava, Santiniketan
If you plan to visit Santiniketan, try visiting the place during the Spring Festival (Basanta) of Holi. Get the hotel booked in advance as it is a pretty globally famous event in Shantiniketan, the place were the Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore himself taught. In Shantiniketan, Holi has a special musical flavour. Visitors on Holi are offered traditional dishes that include malpoa, kheer sandesh, basanti sandesh (saffron), saffron milk, payash, and related foods. For the festival, Students dress up in spring colours and put on a huge cultural program for visitors, including dancing to Tagore’s songs. This is followed by the usual throwing of colours making Basantotsava a cherished part of Bengali history and culture.