Place of Merriment: Northern India
"Holi Hai...Holi Hai..." is what Indians keeps singing smearing with colors all over your face.
Holi is the festival of jollity and gaiety. It is a festival of good harvest and fertility of land. It marks the arrival of arrival of spring where mirth and buoyancy is evident all round. During this time, the gulmohurs, silk cottons, corals and mango trees start flowering. It is spectacular visual display of rainbow of flora at the parks and gardens. For Indians, it provides a refreshing change from their stressful lifestyle. According to Hindu calendar, Holi is celebrated during the month of Phalgun. This day usually arrives after the full moon in March.
History of HoliHoli is a symbolic commemoration of a legend from Hindu Mythology. The story centers on an arrogant king who resents his son Prahlada from worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son, but he fails each time. Finally, the king's sister, Holika, who is believed to be immune to burning, sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlada emerges unscathed, while his aunt burns to death. Another interesting legend of Holi, it is the unconditional love that Lord Krishna expressed with Radha and his gopis. He was involved with youthful pranks by playing with colors.
Ways of Celebration
DAY ONE: Commemoration of HolikaA day prior to playing with colors, the legend of Holika is retold in a very interesting way. After sunset, huge bonfires are sparked with logs of wood, basketful of cowdung cakes, ghee and honey. When the flames are burning bright, people walk and dance around the bonfire to pray to the God of Fire. Special sweets prepared from jaggery and wheat flour is offered. Once the flames slow down, water is sprinkled on the embers and ashes are formed. To banish away negative vibes, these ashes are applied on the foreheads of the devotees and then preserved in the house for all year round.
DAY TWO: Going Riot With ColorsHoli is a family and community festival. On this day, men and women wear spotless white 'kurta pyjama' and 'salwar kameez' to play Holi giving wonderful color combinations. There are deafening sounds of 'Dholaks' heard everywhere. The songs of Holi are carried by the voices of these merry-makers.
People from all age groups go rioting with colored powder 'Gulal'. They splash colored water with pichkaris at each other. Huge drums are filled with colored water. Children fill water balloons and thrown against each other. Sometimes, they enjoy the festive fun with eggs and tomatoes. They go merry by sipping gallons of thandai and bhang�a traditional non-alcoholic drink made from dry fruits and milk. As the merry making comes to a close, they feast on chat-patta sweets like dahi vadas, jalebis, mairosrepak and murkus.
Holi in IndiaUttar Pradesh: Effigies of Holika are burnt in the huge bonfires. Prayers are offered to God of Fire by offering gram and stalks from the harvest.
West Bengal: It is known as 'Dol Jatraror Dol Purnima. On this day, there is beautiful procession of the idol of 'Mahaprabhu Chaitanya' beautifully placed in a decorated palanquin.
At Rabindranath Tagore's Shantiniketan, the students dress up in saffron-coloured clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance with their musical instruments in the presence of their teachers and guests. At the end, they smear dry gulal powder to each other.
Rajasthan: In Jaisalmer Palace, there is great musical treated with colors of pink, green and turquoise powder filled the air. The entire area is electrified with folk songs, dances, and al.
Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon and Barsnar: Home of Lord Krishna where he spend his colorful times with Radha and gopis, these places still wears a vibrant feel. It is celebrated with songs music, plays and dances and of course coloured waters are thrown on each other.
Punjab: Known as 'Hola Mohalla' by the Sikhs, it is rejoiced with feasting and merriment.
In Maharashtra: It is known by names like 'Shimga" and Rangapanchmi'. The fisher folk celebrate it on a large-scale with hilarious singing, dancing and merry-making.