The festival of colors Holi is finally here. India celebrates this festival with great joy and anticipation. According to the Hindu calendar or Panchang, this festival is celebrated on the full moon of Phalguna month; and this year it is going to be celebrated on 18th March.
Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season and the arrival of the spring season. This festival is also called the ‘Festival of colors', and the ‘Festival of spring'.
Holi celebration usually starts one night before the actual Holi. when an auspicious ritual of Holika Dahan is performed. People gather around the bonfire and pray to the Lord. They request their inner evil gets destroyed; like the Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu got destroyed because of her evil thoughts and actions. This signifies that there will always be light over darkness, and the next day Holi is celebrated as a victory. Let us fill our hearts with joy and our souls with the melody of colors.
Holi is a festival that is celebrated across the country with different yet unique significance. And even with different names but among all, the spirit remains the same as the victory over evil. In this article, we are going to share information on different places to celebrate Holi in India.
Uttar Pradesh: Brij Region
The Brij region is one of the most popular places to celebrate Holi in India. It is the region where Lord Krishna belongs. Among many reasons, Holi is also celebrated in memory of the divine love of Radha – Krishna. The most famous places in Uttar Pradesh where Holi is celebrated are Barsana, Mathura, Vrindavan, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, and some towns and small cities nearby these big cities.
Cities Celebrating Holi in Uttar Pradesh
Barsana- The Holi celebrated in Barsana town near Mathura is Latthamar Holi. Thousands of people gather together to witness the Latthamaar Holi. It is when women beat up men with sticks in a funny and playful way. And men try to protect themselves with shields. They all sing Holi songs and traditional folk songs to celebrate this festival with joy.
Vrindavan- In Vrindavan Holi is traditionally celebrated with Puja offering flowers, sweets, and colors to Lord Krishna in Banke Bihari temple. This temple is the main center of the celebration of Holi in Vrindavan. The main event takes place one day before the main Holi. The priest throws colors and holy water at the crowd there. At Banke Bihari temple the devotees start chanting hymns all around. It feels utterly divine to witness such an amazing festival with spirituality.
A very special and amazing kind of Holi is celebrated in Vrindavan which is called Widows Holi. In India, the life of a widow has always been difficult but things are changing now. Vrindavan has shunned the age of the old conviction. In Vrindavan, there is one ashram where all windows play Holi and feel the beauty of colors. This initiative was taken by Sulabh international and it started in the year 2013.
Mathura- In Mathura Holi is celebrated lavishly at Dwarkadhish temple. The event starts one day before the actual Holi. In the afternoon at around 2 PM, a colorful Holi procession starts from Vishram Ghat in Mathura. It goes around the town, and in the procession, people sprinkle colors, sing songs and bhajans together. The procession is so grand that everyone from town visits and takes part in this procession. Pilgrims and tourists definitely can enjoy such grand processions and see the beauty of India while everyone unites together and plays with colors.
In Uttar Pradesh, there are many places where Holi Mela or Holi fair is conducted. Holi fairs were first started by a freedom fighter of India, Nana Sahib. In Kanpur, Holi Mela is conducted on the bank of river Ganga and it lasts for seven days.
Holi in Punjab is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm. It starts 3 days before the actual Holi. People start throwing colors at each other even before Holi. During Holi, hola mohalla, or hola, a 3-day long Sikh festival is also celebrated. Hola mohalla is a tribute to all soldiers and their families who fought and gave their lives for the nation. It is celebrated uniquely by presenting martial arts displays, traditional folk songs, sports, dance, and many other things. This is indeed a unique way to celebrate such a great festival hola mohalla or Holi in Punjab.
One day before Holi, Holika Dahan is also conducted where people gather together and burn a very large fire of Holika, and perform traditional Pooja and rituals as well. Among all the places in India, Holi celebrated here is most fascinating and that is why Punjab is one of the unique places to celebrate Holi in India.
In Gujarat, Holi is celebrated for 2 days. On day 1 Holika Dahan is conducted in the evening where people offer raw coconuts, corns to the bonfire and pray to the Lord for the victory of goodness. And the next day from morning, Dhuleti another name known in Gujarat for Holi is celebrated by sprinkling colors, water, and flowers to each other. In Gujarat, a city named Dwarka celebrates Holi at Dwarkadhish temple with flowers colors and by offering musical festivities in Krishna temple. It is truly one of the beautiful places to celebrate Holi in India.
Madhya Pradesh: Malwa region
In the Malwa region, the Holi celebration starts 10 days before the actual Holi. Here people celebrate Faag Utsav as Holi arrived in Phagun month. In Faag Utsav, a group of people gather in different temples and offer flowers, colors, sweets as prasad, sing bhajans, and offer their humble prayers to the lord. One day before Holi, the celebration starts with Holika Dahan. The divine bonfire where people offer wheat, sesame seeds, coconut in fire and celebrates victory over evil every year. On the next day right from morning Holi is celebrated with colors, flowers, water balloons. In some places in Madhya Pradesh, Gair is also conducted especially in Indore; where people use big water tanks filled with colors and sprinkle these colors all over the city. People move with all the water tanks. After 5 days of Holi, Rang Panchami is also celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm.
In Malwa Region, this festival is celebrated twice within a gap of 5 days. This means one could have twice the enjoyment, this region is indeed distinctive among all the places to celebrate Holi in India.
Holi in Rajasthan is a bit different from every other place. The festival here is celebrated in a royal way; where the royal families across Rajasthan ignite the holy fire for Holika Dahan. On the next day there is a grand Royal procession which includes camels, elephants, grand drums and musical band. This procession indeed feels like one of its kind. The royal families celebrate Holi in Rajasthan in the most eloquent way. The way they mix up with the locals and enjoy the festivities indeed make for an incredible spectacle. Holi here is celebrated in different forms as Mali Holi; which is similar to Latthamar Holi from UP, Gair Holi, Dolchi Holi. Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, Ranthambore, Pushkar, Ajmer, Bikaner, and Bharatpur in Rajasthan are some of the famous places to celebrate Holi in India.
In Maharashtra, Holi is called Shimoga. The festivities around Holi last for five to seven days. People there celebrate this festival as a symbol of unity. In the streets of Maharashtra, people gather together. They bring food for each other and celebrate this festival symbolizing togetherness. During this festival, people forget and forgive any rivalries and start a new healthy relationship with each other. This is indeed a unique way to celebrate this festival.
In Bengal, Holi is known as ‘Dol Jatra' or ‘Basant Utsav'. People celebrate Holi with a grand procession of Lord Krishna on the main streets of cities and villages on Dol Purnima. In the early morning students of Shantiniketan dress up in traditional outfits and perform cultural programs. In West Bengal, the Holi festival is celebrated by singing and dancing on traditional songs and music and also by reciting Rabindranath Tagore's poetry. This is indeed an artistic and soulful way to celebrate such an amazing festival. Bengal is a beautiful and soulful place to visit anytime. But it is a must-visit place during the time of Holi as there is a chance to witness Indian culture through music and poetry.
In Bihar, Holi is called ‘Phaguwa' in the local Bhojpuri dialect. It is celebrated with Holika Dahan, a day before Holi where people light a bonfire. They put dried cow dung cakes, the wood of several trees, grains from fresh harvest, and unwanted leaves in the bonfire and pray to the Lord; for the arrival of the sowing season for growing the crops. Holi Milan is also observed in Bihar. People and relatives meet with each other and apply colors on their faces and feet. Children and youth take extreme delight in this festival. Folk songs are sung by different groups and women during the time of Holi. Holi is celebrated in the interior region of Bihar where people celebrate this festival in their traditional way; praying and performing several rituals during the day and night.
In the South region of India, Holi is not commonly celebrated with great enthusiasm. But it is celebrated with spiritual context, by offering prayers to the Lord in several temples. It is specially celebrated by different communities of Kerala at Konkani temple of Gosripuram Tirumala. Unlike other states they use pure turmeric and natural colors to celebrate such festival. It is more like a spiritual festival in South part of India around Kerala region. But it still is indeed unique. If you want to visit Kerala and soak yourself in greenery, beauty, and spirituality; then this is the right time to visit Kerala during Holi.
In Odisha the festival of Holi is called ‘Dola'. On the main day of Holi, it is celebrated with a grand procession; where the icons of Jagannath are replaced by icons of Krishna and Radha. Dhol Milna on the procession of the day is celebrated around the village. Bhog prasad is offered to deities. People in Odisha use natural colors, known as Abira made from leaves and flowers of some special trees. People offer colors to deities and celebrate this festival with great joy and enthusiasm. This is indeed a unique place to visit during Holi; as it is believed that Lord Jagannath is always present in the town.
In Manipur, Holi is celebrated for 6 days. Traditionally they celebrate with singing and performing traditional folk songs and dances. Groups of people perform to the rhythmic beats of indigenous drums and modern bands. This festival merges with the festival of ‘Yaosung'. This is a traditional festival that commences with the burning of the thatched hut of hay and twigs. During Yaosung, people play several traditional games and enjoy with friends and family. On the last day of this festival, a grand procession around Krishna temple takes place. People perform dance and celebrate with Gulal by wearing traditional white and yellow turbans.
Apoorva is a Data Analyst by profession, Data Enthusiast, and likes to work and analyze data. She is a published poet, writer, painter, art, and music lover. It's her belief that life is a series of tiny miracles and we just need to notice them, we just need to enjoy the ‘life' ride patiently. She likes to chant Vedas and loves reading books in several genres.