The festival of colours Holi is knocking on our doors and so is the spring equinox.
India is a land of diverse cultures and traditions and Holi is one of the country’s festivals that fill one with jubilation and festive cheer. Holi is essentially the festival of colours, which signifies the victory of good over evil, but it is celebrated across the country in varied ways.
Here are some of the inimitable and popular ways of celebrating Holi in different parts of the country.
Holi in Uttarakhand
In Uttarakhand, Holi celebrations are called Kumaoni Holi. Going by the name, it is apparent that the celebrations take place in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. The common names for the festival are Kahila Holi, Khadi Holi and Baithaki Holi. During the festivities, people make a ‘toli’ (gathering of people) and sing and dance to folk tunes going around the city, while sporting traditional attires. The musical affair also signifies welcoming the spring season– the start of the sowing season for the farming community. A night before Holi, people also gather around to light the Holika pyre.
Holi in Punjab
Hola Mohalla, a popular three-day-long fair that is observed at Punjab’s Shri Anandpur Sahib is a big festive event for Sikhs around the world. The festivities include a display of martial arts, horse-riding, and reciting poetry, primarily to pay homage to the bravery of Sikh warriors. Later the festival is followed by dance, music and spraying of colours.
Holi in Uttar Pradesh
Uttar Pradesh’s Lathmar Holi is one of the most famous Holi celebrations that take place around the country. In Barsana, Mathura and Vrindavan areas, respectively known as the towns of Radha and Krishna, Holi begins from Basant Panchami and continues for more than a month. Thousands of devotees and tourists visit the towns to witness this frenzied version of Holi. On the day of Holi, women run after men with ‘lathis’ or sticks and playfully hit them during this celebration. The men, on the other hand, come prepared with a ‘dhal’ or shield. Other towns like Kanpur and Gorakhpur also arrange fairs popularly known as ‘Holi Mela’ to celebrate the festival with great enthusiasm.
Holi in Rajasthan
Popularly known as ‘Royal Holi’, Holi in Rajasthan is observed at a grand level and is organized by the royal Mewar family of Udaipur. People practise the traditional rituals of Holika Dahan a night before Holi, followed by the royal cavalcade including several decorated horses and the royal band proceeding through the city.
Holi in Maharashtra
With great gusto and anticipation, the people of Maharashtra celebrate ‘Rang Panchami’ or ‘Shigma’. Festivities start after the sunset on Purnima with Holika Dahan, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. The next day, people apply gulal and spray water on each other. The celebrations are incomplete without the preparation of ‘Puran Poli’, a sweet buttery flatbread made with chana dal with the stuffing of jaggery, coconut, cardamom, and butter or ghee. When you return home after playing Holi, the heavenly bite of this piping hot scrumptious dish is enough to satisfy your cravings.
Holi in Kerala
The traditional manner how people celebrate Holi in Kerala is known as ‘Ukuli’ or ‘Manjal Kuli’. People visit the temple on the first day and continue with the festivities on the second day. Instead of applying gulal, the people of Kerala play Holi with turmeric or other natural colours.
While different states have their own methods of observing the festival, the above mentioned are some of the popular ways how the festival of colours is celebrated in India.