Know different colours of Holi & how it is celebrated at different places

Delhi : From being celebrated in India and Nepal, Holi has now grown to be a global festival, celebrated in countries where our diaspora has a significant presence. Symbolically Holi signifies the victory of good over evil and also the arrival of spring.

Holi is also called the ‘festival of colours’. The country transforms into a euphoric mood with youngsters and old folks playing with dry colours, water guns, dancing at parties, consuming bhang and preparing mouth watering delicacies. It is also a cultural festival when Radha’s ardent love and devotion to Sri Krishna is remembered. Youngsters seek blessings of elders on the day by applying gulal and abeer on their feet.

The most popular legend associated with Holi is that of ‘Holika Dahan’.

The word Holi is derived from ‘Holika’, the sister of king Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap enjoyed people worshipping him, but to his disappointment, his son Prahlad a zealous devotee of Lord Narayana refused to worship Hiranyashyap. After vainly trying multiple times to murder his son Prahlad, Hiranyakashyap sought help of his sister, Holika had to pay with her life for trying to kill Prahlad. As a reminder of that event, people still burn effigies of Holika before the festivities of Holi starts.

Holi celebrations in India

The traditions and style of Holi celebrations differ from state to state. It is known by different names in different regions. Many festivals that have close association with Holi, are also being celebrated nationwide.
In the state of West Bengal, Holi is known as Basant Utsav, Vasantotsav and Dol Jatra. At Shantiniketan University, poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore started the tradition of Vasantotsavam or Spring Festival. When compared to the ‘hyper energetic and high pitch’ Holi observed in most regions of India, the grace and dignity with which ‘Vasantotsav’ is celebrated in West Bengal is noteworthy. Chanting of hymns accompanied with dance and soulful songs add to the serenity of Shantiniketan.

Apart from Holika Dahan, the legend of Radha-Krishnan is also connected to the Holi story. The festivities in Barsana, the birthplace of Radha take a different shape. When men from Nandgaon, Lord Krishna’s homeland reaches out to women of Barsana to play Holi with them, Gopis meet their friends with sticks. As a result, Holi is renamed Lathmaar Holi in this region.

The celebrations last a week in and around several Krishna temples in Mathura, which is also famous for the fervour in which it celebrates Holi.

Temples are beautifully decorated in rural parts of Northern India. Idol of Radha is placed on swings and devotees turn the swings singing devotional Holi songs. In Rajasthan, a festival called Gangaur is celebrated following Holi celebrations and continues for 18 days. The womenfolk celebrate Gangaur with great zeal and devotion, praying to Goddess Parvati to bless them with a bountiful harvest and marital harmony.

In Punjab, Holi celebrations take form of military exercise and mock battles. The tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Govind Singh, modified Holi to Hola Mohalla, a three-day martial arts festival. At the revered Anandpur Sahib, Sikhs perform numerous martial arts exercises and mock battles on the day after Holi.

In Maharashtra, a pot of buttermilk hung high up will be the target of men who form a pyramid in streets to break it. Women will diligently be engaged in trying to prevent them to reach it by pouring buckets of colour water.
Though Holi is celebrated throughout Assam, Barpeta is known for its grand style of celebration. Apart from ‘Holika dhahan’ and a riot of colours, the songs dedicated to Lord Krishna is also sung in the region that creates a serene feel. Folk songs are sung at high pitch and people dance to the tune of dholak and the spirit of Holi.

Goa calls it’s spring festival Shigmo. With dholak, band drum beats, parades, scenes from mythologies are enacted. Vivid and vibrant colours of gulal and neel add to the mood of the beach city. Most of the metro cities also add to the cheer of the nation with loads of gulaal, water guns, dances. In Tamil Nadu, Holi festival is associated with the legend of Kama Deva who is also known as love God. It is believed that after Lord Shiva burnt Kama Deva into ashes, Rati who was the wife of Kama Deva regained him on the day of Holi with the blessings of Lord Shiva.

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