It’s that time of the year again where in everyone is seen with colour and laughter on their faces, such is the festival of Holi.
Even though it is a joyous occasion for everyone in the country, but the celebration varies.
One of the greatest and most joyous festivals in India, Holi is celebrated with much fanfare by the Hindu community.
The celebration of this occasion and the traditions related to its observance, however, vary from region to region in India.
Here’s how holi is celebrated in different parts of the country –
Lathmar Holi – Uttar Pradesh
The Holi celebration in Barsana, Mathura and Vrindavan regions are the most unique as here women chase men and beat them up with lathis (sticks) as a part of tradition. Hence it is called the Lathmar Holi. It is celebrated a week before the Holi festival.
Holi at Mathura and Vrindavana is celebrated with great enthusiasm for several days in a row. For, these were the places where Krishna spent most of his childhood. Situated in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, the celebration there spans over a week or so.
Each major temple, housing the idols of Krishna and Radha, celebrates Holi on a different day. People throng the temples to get drenched with colored water and consider it a blessing from the god.
Of particular interest is the Holi festival in the village of Barsana, 42 km from Mathura. Radha belonged to Barsana while Krishna hailed from Nandagaon. On Holi, men from Nandagaon come to Barsana to celebrate Holi with the women here, who are ready to beat them with sticks instead of playing with gulal.
A human pyramid is formed to break the pot of buttermilk hung high up. The tradition of the Hindu undivided family there is that the brother’s wife beats her brother in law with her sari rolled up into a rope in a mock rage. All this is done in good humor and in the evening the brother in law brings sweetmeats for her.
In Maharashtra and Gujarat, a grand procession of men soaked with coloured water walks through the streets with a mock alert call that asks to take care of pots of butter and milk as Krishna comes in. This refers to Krishna’s habit of stealing butter and milk stored in terracotta pots from people’s homes. There is also a tradition of hanging a pot of buttermilk high up in the street.
Men forming a human staircase try to break this pot,and whoever succeeds is crowned the Holi king of the locality for that year.As a child, Krishna was extremely fond of milk and milk products. He would plunge into any accessible house with his friends and steal pots of butter or break pots of milk.
In Bengal, Holi is called Dol Yatra, or the swing festival. Traditionally the festival is celebrated with idols of Krishna and Radha are placed on swings and devotees take turns to swing them. Women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs, as men spray coloured water and powder called “Abeer”.
However, recent trend doesn’t see much of those traditions. People play with colored waters, powders in the morning. And later take out processions on the streets with bands and with faces and bodies covered with Holi colors.
Orissa has also the traditions similar to those of Bengal. They only place the idols of Jagannath in place of Krishna and Radha. This is because the famous Jagannath Temple of Puri is situated in Orissa. And “Jagannath”, or ‘the Lord of the Universe’ is yet another name of Krishna.
In Manipur too, Holi is extremely interesting. It is a six-day festival here, commencing on the full moon day of Phalguna. The traditional and centuries-old Yaosang festival of Manipur amalgamated with Holi in the 18th century with the introduction of Vaishnavism. In earlier times, folk dances were performed with folk songs under the moonlight . The only musical instrument used was an indegenous drum. Presently, these have been replaced by modern bands and fluorescent lamps. Beginning days before, people of collect money from the community to spend on the festivities.
Among the main cities in India, capital Delhi comes first, followed by Mumbai, and Calcutta. All celebrate the Holi with colors, feasts, music, dance and blasting parties.
The play with colors peaks up in the residential clusters, away from the city centers.
People usually do not go out with families beyond their local neighborhood, as public conveyances do no ply with usual frequency.
So, it’s time for the grand Holi celebrations to begin and loath everyone around with colour and happiness.