A religious festival, Holi is celebrated just as spring sets in the country and is popularly known as the festival of colors. Celebrated on a day that per Hindu calendar is the Phalgun Purnima, the essence of the festival is embodied in the celebration of victory of good over evil. In the centre of the celebrations is the hometown of Lord Krishna, believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and the first to start this fun filled festival. Many believe that Holi rejoices the immortal love between Krishna and his beloved Radha.
Wish to experience the true and original spirit of this festival? Then, two of the must-visit places during this time are Mathura, the birthplace of Krishna and Vrindavan where he grew up. The celebration here starts almost a week prior to the actual date and is still done the way that the Lord used to enjoy with his Radha and the gopis.
The famous sites of Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura and the Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan are filled with joyous chants, gulal or dry colors, flowers and lots and lots of sweets. Participate in the festivities in the true gopi style in the town of Barsana in Uttar Pradesh that was home to Radha. The temple complexes here have girls enact the scene of Radha and her group of friends celebrating Holi in the Lat Mar style where women hit the men, who play the role of Krishna’s friends, with sticks.
This is officially the start of Holi in the plains of North India. For the ones who want to experience a different form of Holi celebrations, it would mean travelling down to Shantiniketan in West Bengal, the birthplace of Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore. Students of Viswa Bharati dress up in yellow saris and showcase folk dances to augment the Basanta Utsav. While in Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, the Sikh community celebrates Hola Mohalla, their interpretation of Holi, a day after Hindus celebrate. Rajasthan, the land of rajas and maharajas, is also the place to visit during this time and partake in the celebrations that fill the air and the streets for two days. The elephant ride on the Holi day can make the event extra special for you and your family.
“The festival of colours”, Holi is one of the most important Hindu festivals signifying victory of Good over Evil. The festival is celebrated widely not only in India and Nepal but also in the parts of America, Europe and South East Asia. Festival lasts for a night and a day.
During the night which is referred to as HolikaDahan or ChhotiHoli, people gather and pray their internal demons/sins to be destroyed the way evil Holika was killed in fire. Next morning is the RangwaliHoli or BadiHoli, where people smear each other with colours and drench each other with the help of water filled balloons and canons. Customary drinks like Bhang is distributed to create a sense of coolness and openness, its an intoxicating drink but is served in light propotions.
People then dance to the tunes of drums, songs and celebrate the festival by enjoying each other’s groups. After sobering up people visit each other’s houses with delicacies and enjoy dinners.