So let me be your host for this Holi in India and take you around for an incredible journey to the curves of Holi India has. With the burning of the Holika pyre, to the playing with colours, from the mouth-watering gujias, mathris, malpuas to the unpredictable effect of bhaang, Holi is definitely one of the most fun festivals in India. But there are some unconventional ways that some parts of the country celebrate Holi. Here is a list of a few of them which will open your eyes to new ways to celebrate this colourful festival.
According to sayings, the Hindu God of Love, Kaamdev, sacrificed himself in order to get Lord Shiva to come out of his meditation and look into all worldly affairs, as well as, marry Goddess Parvati. In light of this sacrifice, the southern part of India, celebrates Holi by worshipping Kaamdev. This is followed by an evening with friends and family, exchanging home-made sweets.
In Manipur, the festival is celebrated for six whole days. The Yaosang Festival, which has been celebrated by the Manipuris over the ages, blended in with the festival of Holi when the people were introduced to Vaishnavism in the 18thcentury. The best part of this festival is a traditional Manipuri dance, known as ‘Thabal Chongba’.
For Sikhs, Holi plays another important role. A day after Holi, they follow a tradition set by Guru Gobind Singh Ji called Hola Mohalla. A fair is held at Anandpur Sahib, and a display of physical strength and military prowess is put up for all to see.
In the region of Kumaon in Uttarakhand, it’s a musical Holi celebration, which lasts for almost two months. In celebration of the end of winter and the beginning of a new season for sowing, this festival starts from Basant Panchami or the fifth day of Spring. Divided into three phases, different songs on the tunes of Indian classical music, are sung for each phase.
The town of Barsana, near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, celebrates Lathmaar Holi. The men sing provocative song to draw attention from the women, who get back at them by beating them up with ‘lathis’, which the men try to ward off with shields. The women sometimes even catch hold of one of the men and drag him to their house and dress him up as a woman.
The relationship between a ‘bhabhi-devar’ is one laden with fun and mischief. So, on Holi, the bhabhis finally get their revenge on their devars for all the mischief the latter have played on them. Known as Dulandi Holi, the bhabhis get the authority to beat the devars up as a form of revenge, on this day.
The Vishwa Bharti University in West Bengal follows the tradition set by their founder, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore. Holi is considered as a celebration of Spring, known as ‘Basant Utsav’ here. Students deck up the campus with rangoli patterns all over and walk around the campus in the festive mood. Dressed up in traditional attires, the students then sing songs composed by Gurudev for all those who are present for this occasion. In a few parts of the state a procession of Radha and Krishna also takes place, known as ‘Dol Yatra’.
In Ahmedabad, Holi is celebrated by paying tribute to Lord Krishna’s playful habit of stealing butter from houses. A pot full of buttermilk is hung at a height, and young boys are supposed to reach it by forming a human pyramid and break it. In the meantime, girls will try to stop them by throwing coloured water on them. The boy who breaks the pot is then crowned Holi King.
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Nishtha Shrivastava @ Misao India