With spring marks its influx in the seasonal calendar, the nation plunges into the festival of colours. Reckoned as one of the most spectacular Hindu festivals, Holi is celebrated across the country with great gusto. Though, officially the festival is celebrated for two days, but in certain places, the festival of colours lasts for one week. This year, Chhoti Holi (also known as Jalanewali Holi or Holika Dahan) is on March 2 and the Rangwali Holi or Dhulandi will be celebrated on March 3 across India. Not only India, Holi is evenly popular in Nepal and many south Asian countries.
The true essence of Holi can be observed since the epoch of Hindu mythology. It is said that Lord Krishna and Radha was closely associated with this sacred festival of colours. Lord Krishna is known for his dark complexion and he was resentful of Radha’s fair complexion resulting him to apply colours on Radha’s face in teasing mood. Even today, this practice is followed wherein, many couples colour their beloved partner expressing their love towards them.
In Hindu mythology, there are many such significant instances portraying the festival of colours, which used to be celebrated by Lord Krishna and Goddesses Radha. This is why the festival of Holi reaches a different level of celebration in places like Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana and Nandgaon as these places are closely associated with Lord Krishna. And even after many centuries, the carnival of colours did not detach from its actual essence.
One festival, different name
Having said the two-day long celebration of Holi, during Chhoti Holi, bonfire is done in many places when people flock near the holy flame and pray for their betterment. In addition, younger people confer the colour to the God/Goddesses and at the feet of elder persons offering their reverence. On Chhoti Holi, the shrines of Lord Radha-Krishna are decorated with flowers and colours in various parts of the country like Gujarat, Mathura and Vrindavan. On the other hand, in South India this auspicious day is refereed as Kama Dahanam. The second day is popular as Rangwali Holi or Dhulandi when people enjoy the actual delight of this fiesta filled with variety of colours. This is the main Holi.
The festival of colours is popular as different names in different places. Across north India, the festival is popular as Holi, in Assam it is known as Phakuwa or Phagwah, in West Bengal it is famous as Basanta Utsav, in Odisha Holi is known as Dola Jatra, in Barsana the festival is famous as Lath mar Holi. Despite of its diversified names and ways of celebration, the entire nation gets united on this auspicious eve of colourful carnival.
On the day of festival, people start celebrating Holi by greeting each other and smearing different shades of colours. Many street vendors open their stores early in the morning showcasing various coloured powder, Holi Cap, pichkari, water balloons and sweets. Kids rejoice the festivity to the most while throwing the colour filled water balloons from their terraces. Everybody start chasing each other intending to be the first one to colour the other. On the other hand, elder members of the family come out of their houses and greet their neighbour smearing gulal or abirs.
The festival platter
No festivity in India is considered as complete without a single bite of scrumptious sweets. The festival thus turns more gracious when people exchange snacks and sweets amongst neighbours and friends. Some of the renowned sweet platters that are mostly relished during Holi are Ladoo, Imarti, Burfi and Gujiya. For some people, a blend of loud music and beverage adds more thrill to the celebration of colours.
In metro cities, various vibrant events are also organised on the eve of Holi that mostly grabs the attention of college goers. They love to dance in the splash of colours with loud background music. On the day of auspicious Holi, all lanes and roadways of the city are layered under bright shades of colours. The festival brings colour into the lives of everyone allowing them to reunite with their relatives, families, friends and neighbours.
Significant places to visit during Holi
Incredible India is best explored during its traditional rituals and celebrations. Holi is one of those vigorous fiestas to experience when in India. Although, Holi is evenly celebrated all over the country but to name a few where the festival of colours can best be rejoiced are listed as follows:
Popular as Braj region in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh, Vrindavan is reckoned amongst the most religious tourist destinations in India for the Hindu devotees. This location witnesses a huge influx on the eve of Holi. Vrindavan boasts several holy shrines that are established in the reverence of Lord Krishna. One such significant shrine is Bankey Bihari Temple where, Holi is celebrated with great enjoyment. Festival fever envelops the city days before Holi, when Phoolon wali Holi is celebrated here. The significance of this celebration is floral tribute to Lord Krishna wherein, the priests of the temple throws flower petals at the devotees. This festival is celebrated on ekadashi, a day before Holi.
Another spectacular place to enjoy the exciting festival of colour is Barsana, Uttar Pradesh. This place is popular for Lathmar Holi, which is celebrated here every year. Tourists flock Barsana on the eve of Holi to witness this unusual and traditional way of Holi celebration. During Lathmar Holi, men are beaten up with sticks by women. This festival has been followed in Barsana since long. This is out and out an amazing thing to behold in Holi.
One of the elegant places for intellects, Shantiniketan is a must visit on the eve of Holi, which is more popular as Basant Utsav. With an objective of reliving the prehistoric tradition, the festival of colour was introduced here by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore. Till today, this unmatched festival is celebrated here every year as Basant Utsav. People rush here from all over the globe to experience the cultural programs that are arranged here by the students of university. During Basant Utsav, all students get into colourful attire and perform various cultural activities followed by folk songs and dance. The entire ambience of university premises turn completely colourful on the propitious eve of Basant Utsav.
One more place, one more celebration but same colourful festival. One of the eminent seven sisters states Manipur celebrates the festival of colour in different style. In Manipur, people celebrate the event as Yaoshang Festival, which lasts for six days. During Yaoshang Festival, a group of musicians and folk dancers perform near the luminous lamps and bonfires. At the same time people of Manipur plunge in to the festival filled with gulal. Manipur is undoubtedly a great place to arrive on the eve of Holi.
Having mentioned earlier, Holi is identified as different names in different parts of the country. In Odisha, the festival is called ‘Dola’ or ‘Dol Purnima’ when a procession of deity takes place in villages and prashad is offered in reverence of the deity. The people of Odisha believe that Lord Krishna is the synonym of Lord Jagannath. This is why on the eve of ‘Dol Purnima’ they put an idol of Lord Jagannath in place of Lord Radha-Krishna. People mostly celebrate the festival here with natural colour “abira”. The youths offer the colour on the feet of their elders seeking their blessings. In the evening, a palanquin is carried on the shoulders of milkmen. Besides, Holika is also burnt on the auspicious eve of ‘Dol Purnima’. This ritual is performed symbolising conquest of good over evil.
However, considering the serious consequences, it is advisable not to use chemical-mixed powder and liquid. People having issues with their hair and skins are also suggested to take needful measures while playing colour. Also, abstain from throwing colours on the pet and animals. The festival of colours knows no bound. So, let this colourful carnival add lot more bliss and happiness in everyone’s lives.
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