Festivities promote unity, they convert unknowns into knowns and bring knowns closer. It increases opportunities for interaction and creativity, and improve our psychology to accept the diversity in race and religion. In short, they create a gleeful aura for human beings to live a little stress-free life. – Anonymous.
Don’t go by the sombreness of this quote, the blog is not going to be a serious affair for sure; just like one of our favourite festivals, Holi – falling on 8th March in 2023. This festival of colours is synonymous with the over-enthusiastic celebrations in the pious cities of Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana. However, what is side-lined are the unconventional ways in which people in several parts of India celebrate this festival of Gulal, Gujiya and Gulab Jamun. Keep reading to know 7 places where the festival is revered in ways different than the usual…
1. Santiniketan, West Bengal
A popular locality in the Bolpur town of West Bengal, Santiniketan celebrates Holi as Basanta Utsav or Spring Festival. Here the festivities are more lyrical and musical and locals smear ‘aabeer’ – made of dry vegetables – on each other. People dress in yellow and orange colour attires to welcome the spring season in the most joyous way. This year, the merrymaking will start from 16th March’ 2022 and continue till 18th March’ 2022. Do visit this beautiful neighbourhood near Kolkata for witnessing an unusual Holi celebration.
Celebrating Holi in Mathura comes with its own charm. Famous as the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the fascinating city of Mathura is a sought-after destination among devotees, especially during Holi. The temples in the city are fittingly adorned for the grandest of Holi celebrations, which begins on Vasant Panchami with a traditional puja.
The Dwarkadheesh Temple is the most significant destination wherein devotees gather in their thousands on Holi morning for chants, music, and dance in a delightful, gulaal-infused environment. A spectacular show is held every year at the Sri Krishna Janmasthan temple that should not be missed.
If you want to experience Phoolon ki Holi, you must visit Vrindavan, a city that attracts peace-seeking tourists from across the world. Vrindavan is the place where Lord Krishna spent most of his youth. The beautiful city commemorates his youthful days by celebrating Holi with flowers. You can visit Vrindavan this March to rejoice in a grand Holi celebration wherein flower petals are showered on each other with the aim to fortify the spirit of brotherhood.
The epicentre of all Holi celebrations in Vrindavan is the Banke Bihari Temple. The fun and jollity go on for a week, with revellers bathed in all colours enjoying to their fullest. Devotional songs dedicated to Lord Krishna are played at every sight, which further adds to the charm of Holi in Vrindavan.
Another of the best places to celebrate Holi is Barsana, wherein the festivities take place as Lathmar Holi. Barsana and Nandgaon are two suburbs of Mathura. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to visit Barsana to meet Radha and playfully tease her. But he was driven away from the village by the ladies. Ever since, the ladies of Barsana chase the men from Nandgaon and impishly hit them with sticks. This is called the Lathmar Holi celebration, with “lath” meaning a stick, and “mar” to strike someone.
Apart from this unique celebration, the residents of Barsana also partake in colourful processions and distribute sweets while playing Laddoo Holi at Shriji Temple.
Holi celebrations in Agra are spectacularly grand. Celebrated with much passion and zest, you can see people partying, dancing, and savouring sweets while clouds of gulaal fill up the air. Colourful parades along with folk songs make every soul present rejoice in the celebrations.
The festivities in Agra kickstart with a bonfire on full-moon night. People in the streets light up fires to ward off bad energies and evil spirits. The next day, they greet each other at the Holi mela and enjoy an evening full of colours.
Jaipur is among the best places to celebrate Holi wherein a grand event is hosted by the royal family. Gala celebrations take place in the palace to support local charities. You can enjoy a good time at the old Khasa Kothi Hotel where they set up Rajasthani folk dances and music along with gulaal play.
Another excellent venue is the Govind Dev Ji Temple wherein you can experience a devotional atmosphere. Idols of Radha and Lord Krishna are worshipped and offered marigold flowers while hymns and bhajans play in the background.
7. Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
Hola Mohalla or simply Hola is a 3-day event starting the next day of Holi. Marking the onset of Sikh New Year, during this time the locals, instead of revelling in colours, show their prowess by participating in sword fights, wrestling, and other sports. Nagar kirtan, turban tying and poetry are other forms of celebrating this legacy of Guru Gobind Singh.
- What to look for: Colours made of real rose flowers
8. Kumaon, Uttarakhand
The Kumauni Holi is unique in more ways than one. Firstly, the locals celebrate it not only for the fact that it symbolises the victory of good over evil, but also signals the onset of the sowing season. Secondly, it is more of a musical affair for the denizens, when they sing songs based on religion and classical ragas. The different types of Holi celebrated here further add to its uniqueness. Starting from Basant Panchmi (falling in January end or February beginning), Baithki Holi or Nirvan ki Holi, Khari Holi and the Mahila Holi are the three types of Holi that together last for over a month in the region. You will see people merrymaking in white churidar kurta and pyjama accentuated with a nokdaar topi.
- What to look for: Aloo ke gutke (spiced with jambu); specially prepared for this occasion
The otherwise party destination of India, Goa is another unusual place to experience the joyful festival of Holi. It is celebrated as Shigmo here from the 11th Moon day till 15th Moon day. You can see revellers clad in colourful dresses and setting out on streets blowing flutes and beating drums. On the final day of this festival also known as ‘Rang Panchami’, people smear each other with gulal and display Goan ethnicity through a parade. The gleeful aura all around will make you fall in love with Goa even more.
- What to look for: Carnival-like atmosphere with beautifully designed floats Planning to visit Goa this time? Book FabHotel La Flamingo, which is among the most preferred budget hotels in Goa.
10. Rishikesh, Uttarakhand
The Adventure Capital of India is the perfect place to head out to this Holi as the festival coincides with the International Yoga Festival (1st – 7th March). This week-long event will be attended by renowned spiritual leaders, saints and devotees from around the globe and will have Yoga sessions, lectures, cultural performances and aarti. Besides, you can also delve into special Holi celebrations, comprising music, gulal, river rafting and scrumptious snacks, organised on the banks of the Ganga River.
- What to look for: River rafting
11. Pushkar, Rajasthan
Around the glassy Pushkar Lake, the town though is magical throughout the year, the ambience is all the more spellbinding during the festival of colours. You won’t witness much differentness here as in the aforementioned destinations; however, the enthusiasm and fervour with which locals celebrate it for two consecutive days will be really worth capturing.
- What to look for: Dance congregation in the town centre
12. Udaipur, Rajasthan
The name Udaipur conjures magnificence and the Holi celebration here is equally grand. Starting with the ritual of ‘Holika Dahan’ by the ruling Mewar king and his family, the festivities follow with a splendid procession of decorated horses, camels, musicians and dancers with royal band groups that starts from the royal residence (Shambhu Niwas Palace) to Manek Chowk at the City Palace. The celebration concludes with spectacular fireworks. On the second day, locals rejoice Holi with wet and dry colours, water guns and balloons.
So, where are you heading? Do mention in the comment box below. Happy & Safe Holi to you all!