Holi referred to as the “Festival of Colors”, is one of the most popular and joyous festivals celebrated in India. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Phalgun, which usually falls in February or March. Holi signifies the arrival of spring and is a time to spread love, happiness, and unity among people.
The festival is most widely and perhaps most wildly celebrated by Indians. People smear “Aabir” (colored powder) on each other's faces and throw colored water. Apart from its religious significance, Holi has cultural significance as well. It is a time to celebrate diversity and promote harmony and unity among people. The festival is celebrated by people of all ages, genders, and social classes. One of the world's foremost destinations for the festival of colors is Pushkar, a small hamlet sandwiched between the Aravallis of the west and the plains of east Rajasthan. Pushkar is known for its unique Holi celebrations that attract tourists from all over the world. Holi is a crazy affair in the Hippie capital of Rajasthan.
Unique Holi Celebration in Pushkar
The town of Pushkar is famous for its Brahma Temple which draws thousands of pilgrims to the holy land. However, the Holi celebration in Pushkar and the rituals are unique to this place. Holi celebration in Pushkar begins with a Holika Dahan ceremony, which takes place on the night before the main day of Holi. A huge bonfire is lit and once the flames die out, people bring pieces of burning embers to their homes, symbolizing good luck to the home.
This ceremony involves burning a bonfire to symbolize the victory of good over evil. The following day, people gather on the streets and play with “Gulal” and colored water.
The festival is particularly popular with foreigners, who gather in the city to have fun and enjoy the festive atmosphere, complete with music, dance, and traditional Rajasthani delicacies, like Dal Bati Churma, Ghevar, and Kachori.
Why Holi celebration in Pushkar attracts foreign tourists?
With the blaring sound of trance music pumping at full volume through an array of mega speakers and a palette of colors, exploding in the air from the hands of people flinging it up and outwards – the atmosphere in Pushkar is electric! The town square is filled with crowds, locals and tourists alike, forming a sea of undulating bodies. They laugh, jump, hug, smear, spray, and splash each other with dry and wet powder.
Blended together, one can hardly make out the foreigners from the locals. Everyone seems to be in an altered state of consciousness. And this requires tourists to be cautious about themselves and their belongings as well. Chemical in colors, ill-intentioned trouble-makers, or the people high on bhaang – the town square gets transformed into an unimaginably wild party zone. Pushkar used to celebrate Kapda-Faad Holi, where men would tear off their t-shirts and hang them on high wires. The practice has been discontinued due to concerns about harassment of women, but the spirit of the celebration remains. People get their bodies unrecognizably drenched in colors.
Significance of Holi in Pushkar
Pushkar is a holy town, and the Holi celebrations here have a deeper spiritual significance. Located in Rajasthan's Ajmer district, Pushkar is often called tirtha-raj, which literally means the king of pilgrim sites. There are several temples in Pushkar and the most famous temple is the Brahma temple, which is one of the few temples dedicated to Brahma in the world. Pushkar is also famous for Pushkar Lake, which has 52 ghats. Pushkar has become one of the most famous tourist destinations for the annual Pushkar Camel Fair, which is held in November. Besides the spirituality and tranquillity of the place, Pushkar is a major crowd-puller at Holi.
The festival is an expression of joy and gratitude for the arrival of spring, which brings new life and energy to the world. On the day of Holi, a special procession takes place from the Brahma temple to the Pushkar Lake. This procession includes beautifully decorated camels, horses, and elephants. The local folk and tourists join the procession. It culminates at Pushkar Lake, which is considered sacred by the Hindus. People take a dip in the holy waters and offer prayers to the Gods.
Guide to reaching Pushkar and accommodation therein
By Air: The nearest airport to Pushkar is the Jaipur International Airport, which is about 146 km away. From the airport, tourists may take a taxi or a bus to Pushkar.
By Train: The nearest railway station to Pushkar is Ajmer, which is a destination sacred to the followers of Islam. Tourists may hire a taxi or take a bus from the Ajmer railway station to Pushkar.
By Road: Pushkar is well-connected by road. There are several bus services that operate from major cities in Rajasthan, such as Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, and Ajmer.
Upon reaching Pushkar, travelers may explore the town on foot or by hiring a bicycle or a motorbike. Camel ride to explore the nearby desert is also operated by some agents. Pushkar is a unique and charming destination that offers a glimpse into the culture and traditions of Rajasthan. With its well-connected transportation options, reaching Pushkar is easy and convenient. As far as accommodation is concerned, Pushkar offers several luxury properties such as The Westin Pushkar Resort & Spa, Ananta Spa & Resort, and The Gateway Resort Pushkar Bypass. These hotels offer lavish amenities such as swimming pools, spa services, and fine-dining restaurants. For budget-conscious travelers, Pushkar has several hostels such as Zostel Pushkar, Moustache Pushkar, and Madpackers Pushkar. These hostels offer shared dormitories and private rooms at affordable rates. They also organize various events and activities such as city tours, trekking, and cultural events to make the stay more enjoyable.
Pro tip: If you are planning to visit Pushkar at the Holi, remember to book your accommodation at least a month in advance.
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