7 Shades of Holi That Make It Such a Unifying Festival!
The festival of colours is an energetic, fun-filled expression of joy that is interspersed with a dizzying array of colours. Come March, Holi celebrations take over the entire country and herald the onset of summer. Holi celebrations in India take on different avatars in different regions. The varying types of Holi celebrations across India set the festival of colours apart from others. Even though Holi celebrations differ from one region to the next, its basic tenet of pure, unadulterated fun is the unifying element of Holi. Let’s look at seven types of Holi celebrations that are celebrated across the country.
The Holi festival is celebrated with great fervour in Maharashtra. The real Holi celebrations begin after the ritualistic burning of Holika’s pyre. The next day of Holi is Rang Panchami, a day that is set aside for colours and water play. It is one of the most quintessential Holi celebrations in India in which a riot of colours takes over the blue sky and ‘Thandai’ flows in generous quantities. Puran Poli is the flavour of the day, a sinful indulgence that can be enjoyed in numerous different and delicious ways.
Holi celebrations take a quirky turn in Uttar Pradesh as women take to the streets to beat up roving groups of men, but not really hurting them. The Lathmar Holi is an age-old tradition of Mathura and Vrindavan dating back to the times when Krishna and his friends played playful tricks on Radha and her friends. The men face the women with a dhal or a shield to protect themselves from the blows. In Kanpur, the Holi festival celebrations last for seven days and conclude with a grand Holi Mela.
The Holi celebrations of Uttarakhand are quite distinct from the more recognisable arena of colour and water. Here, Holi marks the beginning of the sowing season, and the celebrations move between towns and villages over a couple of months. People express their joy through music rather than colours. Holi in the Kumaon region is celebrated in three different forms. The Baithaki Holi is a showcase of musical performances while the Khadi Holi adds dance to the mix. The Mahila Holi is a ladies-only celebration that closely resembles the Baithaki Holi.
The Holi celebrations in Punjab are much different from their counterparts in other parts of the country. Known as Holla Mohalla, the celebrations kick off a day before Holi is usually celebrated. The Holla Mohalla is also known as Holi for warriors. It is a day when people travel from far and near to witness the martial performances put on by the warrior sect of Nihang Sikhs. It is a day of competition and displays of dare-devilry that are put on to pay homage to the bravery of Sikh warriors.
Holi celebrations take on a regal mien in the royal city of Udaipur. The former kingdom of Mewar has a rich history of customs and traditions continue to this day. The celebrations start on the eve of Holi, after the current custodian lights the holy pyre of Holika. The next day is reserved for colourful flamboyant parades that showcase the livery of horse and elephant riders as they make their way through the city. It is a grand spectacle that will add an element of excitement to many family vacations.
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Holi may not a big festival down south, but Kerala celebrates its own version of the festival of colours with Manjal Kuli. The celebrations are subdued and take place in certain designated areas such as temples. Instead of the traditional gulal, revellers use turmeric and water to express their joy. The first day is spent in worship and temple visits and the festivities continue the next day. Use this Holi long weekend to celebrate Holi of a different kind. Add one more page to your colourful album of family vacations.
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Shimgo is Goa’s version of Holi celebrations. But it is mostly an occasion to celebrate the spring season. The villages in Goa celebrate the more traditional Dhakto Shimgo (small Shimgo) while the cities prefer to celebrate Vhadlo Shimgo (big Shimgo). The day is marked by a massive carnival, traditional folk songs, and street dance performances. The fishing community decorates their boats in vibrant hues in religious and mythological themes as a way of thanking them for providing sustenance. The carnival features beautiful floats and intricate performances; a sight to behold.
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In our country full of diverse cultures, Holi offers a common ground to join each other in celebrating life and all that it offers.
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