India is a country imbued in traditions, charms, culture and a way of life. The traditions, customs and celebrations hold this nation together. We have a large number of festivals lined up all along the year but among those, come the most vibrant festival of the year called “Holi”. Holi is a festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil according to one of the legends associated with the festival. With the onset of spring, northern India gets into the colourful mood of Holi. This festival also denotes celebration due to good harvests and land fertility. This colourful festival also celebrates the eternal love of Radha and Krishna.
When is Holi Celebrated?
We all know each year the date changes for Holi and did you know why? The constant change of date happens because Holi takes place on the full moon day of the Hindu calendar month, Phalunga. That means it can happen anytime between February and March. The day after the full moon in March every year. This year, Holi is on March 21, with Holika Dahan on March 20. The celebration takes place a day prior in West Bengal and Odisha. However, in certain parts of India, for example, Mathura and Vrindavan celebrations begin a week or so prior.
We have rounded off the top places to celebrate the festival of colors in the country that are known for their authentic and unique styles of celebrating.-
Lathmar Holi Of Barsana:
A unique way of celebrating Holi is undertaken in the areas of Barsana and Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh. Lathmar Holi literally translates to festival of sticks and colours. Apart from colors, the celebration here is additionally celebrated with sticks, and men are at it’s receiving end. The brilliant celebration in the districts of Barsana and Nandgaon gets an unusual twist, as the ladies chase men with sticks in hand to beat them up and hence the name ‘Lathmar’.
The festival is said to be a recreation of a famous Hindu legend, according to which, Lord Krishna (who hailed from Nandgaon village) visited his beloved Radha's town, Barsana. Krishna teased Radha and her friends, who in turn responded by taking offence at his advances and driving him out of Barsana. In tune with this legend, men from Nandgaon visit the town of Barsana every year, only to be greeted by the sticks of the women there. Men are allowed to protect themselves with shields. The festivities take place at the sprawling campus of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, which is said to be the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Radha.
Traditional Holi Of Mathura And Vrindavan:
The most imperative destinations in north India, Mathura and Vrindavan are two of the most captivating places for Holi festivities in India. Thousands of years’ of history prompted this to be an incredible Holi destination, and you couldn't be in anyplace better amid this celebration. According to legend, the tradition of playing colors on Holi originated from the love life of Radha and Krishna. Mathura holds a renowned show in the week before Holi. A colourful and musical procession takes place from the temples to river then to the Holi Gate, where the festival is marked.
The narrative of Lord Krishna and Radha has a massive foothold here in Mathura, and the fun-loving exchange of colors is something that goes back to the times of Lord Krishna. The Banke-Bihari Temple in Vrindavan hosts a week long Holi celebrations. The event here takes place just a day before the main Holi festival. The temple opens up its doors to all visitors to come and play Holi.
Cultural Holi of Shantiniketan:
If you want to experience a Holi celebration filled up with cultural activities, West Bengal's Shantiniketan is the best spot for you to be on. Here, Holi is known as Basanta Utsav or Spring festival.
The great Indian Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore introduced Vasant Utsav in his Vishwabharati University at Shantiniketan to recreate the magic of the joyous Holi festival. Today, the Vasant Utsav of Shantiniketan is an integral part of Bengali culture and has young as well as old students of the institution annually celebrating the festival in a special manner.
Students dress up in yellow color and present some wonderful folk dances and cultural programs followed by the throwing of colours. The celebrations start a day earlier than Holi and are now considered an important part of the Bengali history and culture. A huge number of tourists arrive every year at Shantiniketan to witness and participate in these celebrations. Basanta Utsav has become a cherished part of Bengali history and culture, and it attracts numerous foreign tourists.
Warrior Holi Of Anandpur Sahib:
Experience Holi the Sikh way at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. Hola Mohalla is a yearly fair that dates back to 1701. It was started by the 10th Sikh Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh to celebrate Holi. However, instead of smearing colors, hope to see a show of physical deftness. While the vibrant Holi festival boasts of sprinkling colors, Hola Mohalla takes the form of demonstrating martial skills in simulated battles. On this three-day grand festival, mock battles, exhibitions, display of weapons, etc., are held followed by kirtan, music and poetry competitions. There's wrestling, martial arts, mock sword fights, acrobatic military exercises, and turban tying. In Hola Mohalla, you will find individuals absorbed in colours which they perceive as the colours of heroism.
Royal Holi Of Udaipur:
As anyone would expect, Udaipur celebrates Holi in a regal style. On the night prior Holi, Holika Dahan also known as Mewar Holika Dahan is conducted. The bonfire happens on the grounds of City Palace. The royal family of Udaipur participates in the iconic procession of the festival, seated on elephants and horses. The ruling Mewar king and his family, grace the occasion, by lighting the holi pyre, while the locals perform ‘Gair’- a folk dance, around the bonfire. Holika dahan is then followed by a large and vibrant rally, accompanied by royal family members, sitting on ornated camels, elephants and horses. This royal procession starts from Shambhu Niwas Palace and moves up to Manek Chowk royal residence. The following morning the celebrations are all out on the streets of Udaipur in full swing.
Holi of Hampi:
Being a North Indian festival, Holi is less played in the Southern India. However, Hampi in Karnataka is an exception. The whole town takes to the street to play Holi in the morning, amid drumming, dancing, and the evocative ruins of the grand Vijayanagar Empire.
Also, due to the presence of large number of western tourists, holi gets highly popular in the city. People gather in the streets to splash colors and dancing to the drum beats followed by a nice dip in the river.
Holi of Purulia:
Purulia is totally different when it comes to celebrating Holi. Unlike, Shantiniketan, Purulia has dozens of reasons to celebrate the festival of Holi in a significant way. You'll get to sing and play Holi with the locals, as well as enjoy a wide variety of unique folk art. This includes the remarkable Chau dance, Darbari Jhumur, Natua dance, and songs of West Bengal's wandering Baul musicians. What makes the festival special is that it's organized by villagers as a way of helping sustain themselves.
Holi isn’t just a festival of colours. It is the festival that teaches humankind to transcend above the caste and creed. It is a festival to forget old grievances and meeting others with great warmth & high spirit. This festival brings colours to the life of people, when they share the joy with the loved ones !! Do you have experience of celebrating Holi in the mentioned destinations? Share your experience with us. Download Trainman App, to check train seat availability or running status of any train and much more.