An inviting spread of colors, packets of deflated balloons (waiting to be filled with water), plastic water guns, and sweets of all imaginable kinds lined up in shops are a common sight every year as we approach Holi. The festival of colors is celebrated in every corner of the country, but the way of celebration varies throughout. Holi is often used in symbolism related to India. India is a land of infinite cultures and races coexisting peacefully in an ecosystem. Holi, with its myriads of colors, represents this ecosystem and each color denotes a different culture prevalent in India and the mixture of all these make Holi and the country what they are. Here are some of the famous and unique ways in which people of India choose to celebrate Holi-
Holi in Barsana and Vrindavan-
Barsana and Vrindavan lie in the area popularly known as Vraj, which consists of four towns- Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon, and Barsana.
Popularly played with synthetic colors, Holi is celebrated in a considerably different, and contrasting, ways in Barsana and Vrindavan.
Barsana is famous for its Lathmar Holi. As it might be apparent from the name, it is celebrated with thick sticks or Laths. The women from Barsana hit the men from Nandgaon village and they are given shields to protect themselves.
On the other hand, in the neighboring village of Vrindavan Holi is played by showering flower petals along with dry and wet colors. The week-long celebration takes place in front of and around the Banke Bihari temple. The sculpture of Banke Bihari is placed outside the temple for the people believe Lord Krishna himself plays Holi with them.
Goa has emerged as one of the top vacation destination in the last decade. However, when it comes to celebration of major festivals of India, it doesn’t lag behind the rest of the country. Holi is celebrated as Shigmo in Goa. More than being the festival of colors, this festival is about the masses. Shigmo celebrations begin from 11th Moon day and carries on till 15th Moon day. The village groups clad in colorful dresses set out, beating drums and blowing flutes. The 15th day i.e. the last day of the festival is when the real celebration awaits. It is known as ‘Rang Panchami’. People throw Gulal at each other and it is seen as a symbol of rejoicing. Along with this, an inviting spectacle of Goan ethnicity and mythology is on display in an annual parade.
Punjab- Hola Mohalla or Warrior Holi
At Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Holi has been given a different spin. Instead of throwing colors and water at each other, there is a display of strength by the male population of the state. Various competitions include wrestling, Turban tying, martial arts, and sword fights. The festival traces its origin to 1701 when it was first organized by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.
Varanasi has always been synonymous with the festival. The city is famous for the bringing out the craziness in the Holi with Bhang drinks flowing and colors flying everywhere. Groups of youths can be seen on the narrow streets and on the Ghats dancing and playing drums. A procession that is carried out here gives it its uniqueness. As per the tradition, the procession mimics a wedding procession and a groom rides on a chariot. He is welcomed in a well-decorated open hall or pavilion where an argument is staged between the bride and the groom and the procession is sent back without the bride.
Holi in Delhi-
Delhi, being a metro city, sees an amalgamation of cultures and traditions and this reflects in their celebration of all major festivals. Holi is marked with numerous parties all around the city, which serve Bhang Lassis, street food, and lots of music. Now days, people use non-toxic colors and the environment is safe. Although, one might need to take some caution as these affairs can get rowdy sometimes.
One of the best and safest parties in the city is The Holi Cow, which is attended by prominent bands, DJs, various expats, as well as the locals.
In addition to this, on the eve of Holi, bonfires of Holika are lit throughout the city and the victory of Good over Evil is celebrated.
Shimga in Maharashtra-
Holi is known by a different name in the state- Shimga. The major attraction in the state is when it comes to breaking the pot. This has been a long standing tradition in Maharashtra. Trained groups of men of various ages form a pyramid to break the pot of butter hung high on the street. To stop them from doing so, women make sure to disrupt them with a steady flow of water. This tradition finds its roots in the legend that Lord Krishna used to break pots and steal butter and curd.
If you have been celebrating Holi in one of these styles, make sure to travel to other places which follow a completely different style of celebration; experience what gives them joy, and immerse yourself in their culture. After all, that’s what traveling is all about.