Holi is one of the few festivals that portray India at its truest. It is vibrant, chaotic, raucous, has an interesting mythological back-story to it, and the end moral is simple – Good will always triumph over Evil. Yet, despite the common theme, Holi is celebrated differently in various parts of the nation. So fill up those water balloons, put on that Bollywood mixtape, and grab some colour. Here’s a list of top five places to celebrate Holi in India:
1. Mathura & Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
The birthplace and childhood home of Lord Krishna, Mathura & Vrindavan start their traditional Holi celebrations prior to the festival. Grab some gulaal and join the jovial riverside processions, with only one thing in mind – if your face isn’t a rainbow of colours yet, you have some holi playing left to do.
2. Barsana, Uttar Pradesh
Popularly known as the Laathmar Festival, Holi in Barsana, UP, is celebrated in a much different manner. Menfolk, aren’t greeted with a smattering of colour, but a charge of sticks. Women use these sticks to chase away the men who tease them (similar to the folklore of Krishna teasing his gopis). But in all that running and chasing, don’t forget to sip on some thandai!
3. Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
Roll up your sleeves and stretch your hamstrings as you enter Anandpur Sahib to celebrate Hola Mohalla! Almost lasting a week, the festival showcases displays of strength, agility, martial arts and brevity, followed by poetry and music. The 10th Sikh Guru -Guru Gobind Singh – started the festival in the 18th century. Since then, it has spread to other parts of Punjab as well.
4. Udaipur, Rajasthan
Join the Royal family of Mewar in a regal Holi celebration, which begins on the eve of Holi. A huge effigy of the demon Holika is lit and a royal procession marches with a band as well. This is followed by an elaborate function at the Royal Palace. Truly an experience with some serious bragging rights!
The Goans, always vibrant and energetic in their approach, welcome the Spring with a lot of pomp and show. They celebrate Holi in the form of ‘Rang Panchmi’ which happens to fall on the fifth day of ‘Shigmotsav’, a 14 day long festival practised by the Hindu locales of Goa. The Mahotsava starts from March 07, 2015 at Ponda this year. The streets are embellished with colour and carnival, dance and feast, ‘gulaal’ and ‘neel’.
Celebrated by the name of ‘Yaoshang’, Holi happens to be a six day long festival here starting from the full moon day of Phalguna, known to be the most vivid celebration of Manipur. One can definitely not miss ‘Thabal Chongba’, a tradition where young boys and girls dance enthusiastically under the moonlight.Also, numerous cultural activities
take place at the Krishna temples as a tribute.
7. New Delhi
If you want to continue looking human and stay dry while at it, sharpen your reflexes when stepping out of your homes and dodge as many water balloons as possible! Attune your ears to holi-themed songs and remember, there is no such thing as too much Gujjia (a traditional Indian sweet). You can also head to the annual Rang Festival where several artists like AJJA, Bass Pilots, Shiva Moon etc. perform and natural colors are used for play.
At the end of the day, remember to be safe and not coerce anybody to play if they don’t wish to. Fret not if you’re still a shade of pink/purple/blue even after multiple showers as the colors will wear off eventually.All that remains are the memories. Have a Happy and Safe Holi!