Holi in India: Celebrating colours differently

It is that time of the year when colours are all around


March 2, 2020

/ By / Kolkata

holi in india
Holi is the most vibrant festivals which signify the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring. As the earth wakes up from its winter slumber, the people get ready to coat each other in the colours of spring
Holi, one of the most vibrant festivals of India, is just around the corner and there is an atmosphere of excitement all around. The festival signifying the victory of good over evil also marks the arrival of spring in India. Essentially a festival of colours, Holi is also known for the myriad ways in which it is celebrated across India. Here are a few:

Lathmar Holi, Uttar Pradesh

(Latmar Holi in Uttar Pradesh)

According to one of the various myths about Holi, the festival originated in the Barsana region of northern India, about 100 km south of the capital New Delhi, including towns like Vrindavan, Barsana, Nandgaon and Mathura. The festival is said to be a recreation of a famous Hindu legend, which being, Lord Krishna (who hailed from Nandgaon village) visited his beloved Radha’s town, Barsana. The legend says that Krishna teased Radha and her friends, who took offence at his advances and drove him out of Barsana. Even today, the festival here is celebrated with not just colours, but with sticks. And till today, on this day, the local women chase away the men with lathis (sticks), but it’s not a beating session and the men come prepared too.

Khadi Holi – Kumaon region, Uttarakhand

(picture credit: eSamskriti)

Khadi Holi is played in the Kumaon region of the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, about 300 km northeast of New Delhi. As a part of the celebration, the locals wear traditional clothes, sing Khari songs and dance in groups. They move in tolis (group) and greet the people they pass by. In this region, Holi is usually a musical gathering in different versions known as Baithika Holi, Khadi Holi and Mahila Holi.

Basant Utsav and Dol Jatra, West Bengal

(picture credit: DNA India)

Holi in West Bengal is celebrated as Basant Utsav and Dol Jatra. Basant means spring and Utsav refer to a festival, like Holi, marks the onset of spring. On this day, women primarily dress in the yellow colour which signifies the colour of abundance and spring. The best place to enjoy the festival in Shantiniketan in Bolpur, the epicentre of Bengali cultural richness. Here, it is celebrated with an unequalled and unmatched fervour. Apart from playing with colours, the ambience of this place during the festival is filled with Tagore’s poetry recitals, songs and traditional dance programs. The Dol Jatra is celebrated the next day where a procession of an idol of Lord Krishna is taken out through the streets accompanied by frolic, music and the participants smearing colour on each other’s faces.

Rang Panchami or Shimoga, Maharashtra

(picture credit: Newsd)

In Maharashtra, Holi is known as Shimga or Rang Panchami. Shimoga is the initiation of the Holi celebrations which includes similar traditions like the Holika Dahan in the north and is celebrated by lighting up a pyre made of firewood. Rang Panchami is the day when people indulge in playing with dry and wet colours. The festivities last for as long as a week in this part of the country. The festival is particularly popular amongst the fisherfolk as they celebrate it in on a large scale and revel in the festivities with songs, dances and merrymaking.

Yaosang, Manipur

(picture credit: HelloTravel)

For the last 300 years, the small north-eastern state of Manipur has been celebrating a unique form of the Holi festival that incorporates the old tradition of the local Meithei people, the dominant community in the state, and the deep influence of Vaishnav branch of Hinduism in the region. Yaosang is celebrated for six days, it starts on the day of the full moon and combines Hindu and indigenous traditions. The highlight of the festival is the Thabal chongba, a Manipuri folk dance that is performed during. To add to the traditions and maintain uniformity, the Hindus of Manipur play this festival with colours too.

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