India is famous for its colorful customs and one of the most colorful festivals of all is the ‘Festival of Colors’ itself. Holi, the vibrant festival celebrated to welcome spring season is enjoyed by throwing color water and spray paint on each other. There are various top places in India for Holi Celebration.
Mythically, it celebrates the death of demon Holika by Prahalathan, a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Cultural dance and music performances, puppet shows and much more are enjoyed as a part of the festival celebration. Although celebrated throughout the country, Holi Celebration is enjoyed as an exclusive festival in only a few states of the country.
Holi is one of the most colorful festivals of Incredible India. In this festival, friends and family throw colored water and color powders on each other to make celebrations in this 2 day long festival. There is laughter, happiness, and you can spot colored people and people in colored clothes (or even wet clothes) on the streets during this festival. While many people all across India is aware of the colors and celebrations of this festival, there are few who know the significance and how the festival of Holi is celebrated in India.
What is Holi festival?
The main importance or significance of the ‘festival of colors’ is that it marks the arrival of Harvest or Spring season. There are two main sections in this festival – Holika Dahan and Rangwali Holi. The colorful festival is also mentioned in the Sanskrit literature and Hindu mythology. This joyous festival full of excitement and exuberance dates back to almost 4th century AD. There is also an ancient mythological famous play known as ‘Ratnaval’ where the scenes of Holi is described exactly.
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History behind Holika Dahan
Holi is taken from the name of a mythological female demon known as ‘Holika’. As per the scriptures from the Vedas this female demon died burning when she tried to burn her demon brother King Hiranyakashyap’s son. So, in order to celebrate the victory over evil, the next day people smeared each other’s faces with her ashes that remained in the fire as a symbolic ritual. Over time, this turned to coloring the faces of each other with different colors during this festival period.
Rituals of Holi Festival
People think that Holi is about coloring each other but there are many other rituals. The rituals performed during the festival of colors are practiced among many people, associations, and even organizations. Each of these rituals have a significance towards something that happened in mythological times. These are the most popular rituals that people perform during Holi festival.
1. Smearing color powder on each other
This is one of the most popular way of celebrating Holi even among the non-Hindus all over the country. This form of celebration has also been incorporated in various celebrations and ceremonies all across the world for different purposes. This ritual has a mythical connection of the story of Holika, the female demon and her King brother Hinranyakashyap burned ashes.
In the pre-historic times, they smeared each other with their ashes after the lady devil burned in the pyre as she set a trap for the King Hiranyakashyap’s son. Then Lord Vishnu also burned him down and the people smeared each other with his ashes. The same is followed here today but this is done with bright colorful powders.
2. Throwing colored water on people
There is also another story to this regarding throwing the powder and even drenching girls in water on Holi. It was also known that like many adolescents of his age, Lord Krishna was also very mischievous in his ways.
It is also mythologically depicted that he played pranks on girls and even drenched them with water which was one such prank. This is now a days followed as a ritual or custom and people throw colored water on the morning of Holi. These days they have mini – water pumps and water balloons to pour water in a fun-filled custom to celebrate Holi.
3. The Human Pyramid and Matka Pot
This is another event of celebration that people wait for eagerly during Holi. This custom is performed in the northern and western states of India such as Punjab, and Maharashtra. The ‘Matka’ means an earthen pot and this is filled with butter milk. This pot of buttermilk is held held by ropes from a height like a building or tree.
It is a custom during Holi where the males of that particular group of participants form the highest pyramid that they can with a goal to break the pot. While they are trying to achieve their feat, the female folk try hard to stop them from doing so. Women throw small buckets of water, and do such things to make it difficult for them to break the ‘Matka’.
4. Lathmar : Hitting the men with sticks
This is ‘man beating’ ritual where the neighboring villages / groups take part in this festival. This also has a mythical connection where the Gopis, Krishna and Radha were involved, and is now a ritual. The males annoy the females and then get beaten up by them by ‘lathis’ in return.
Hence, it is called ‘Lathmar’ meaning ‘beatings with sticks’. This festival is mostly celebrated in Northern India especially in Mathura, UP known as the ‘land of young Kirshna’. The towns of Barsana and Nandagaon await this festival to celebrate they re-play this mythical tale as loud music and celebrations play in the backdrop.
5. Holika Dahan: Burning the effigy of Holika
The Festival of Holi lasts for 2 days but the rituals and celebrations happen days before the main festival. On the full moon evening of Holi, there is one custom carried out by people at many places they collect wooden logs put them in a heap and light up a pyre.
This burning is symbolic to the burning of Holika known as Holika Dahan and preparations for this ritual starts before. For this ritual people gather around the burning pyre and women also wear traditional clothes and sing bhajans or praises to Lord Vishnu.
How Holi is celebrated in India?
This is a crowded and exuberant festival where you can find people of all ages, genders, family, friends, poor and rich – everybody gather to enjoy and celebrate the festival of colors. There are generally local bands or musicians that play the Dhol which is a wooden drum commonly used by South Asian people for plays, shows, culture performances, etc.
People also run away from others trying to put color on them and themselves try to put color on others’ faces, etc. So, you can see a person suddenly running from other colored people on the streets, in public areas, children’s’ parks, temples, etc. The shops will be selling water sprinklers, water balloons, etc. and many kids will be using these to celebrate. There is also loud music played and some people also organize fun events for localities or colonies.
The famous intoxicating ‘Thandai’ meaning cold is a watery paste made from opium plants and is popularly called ‘Bhang’. The men generally drink this like a way of celebration and also get drunk. The time of Holi is also a time to get together with family and friends especially in the evening time.
In the evening people wash off the colors which stay on for days or even weeks and are dressed in new and special traditional clothes. The women of the households also prepare special delicacies and yummy desserts. Some of them include the kachoris, thandai, fruit bowl, gujiya and other sweet dishes.
How Long is Holi Celebrated?
Holi 2022 is for two days celebrated on March 18th and 19th but the rituals start 2 – 3 days earlier.
Why is Holi called the festival of colors?
Lord Krishna, the re-incarnation of Lord Vishnu was born blue in color. He got miffed with the strange color that he had on his skin and that he was different from the others on his skin. When he met Radha, he smeared her face also with a color that lasts for a lengthy time in order to make it equal between them. This is another reason why people smear each other with the bright colors.
When Holi is Celebrated in India in 2022?
Holi is the one of the most famous festivals of India that are celebrated in various regions of India. In 2022 Holi is celebrated on 19th March, and Holika Dahan is on 18th March.
Where is Holi Celebrated in India ?
Holi is celebrated at all the states in India and many countries where there are Hindus especially in Nepal. Durbar Square is a famous place to visit in Nepal to view the exuberant Holi Celebration. In India, different regions are known for different ways of celebrations or rituals performed during Holi.
1. Holi in Barsana
Barsana is a small village located near Mathura of Uttar Pradesh. This village still stick to the culture and tradition of the land, as a daily routine. When it comes to festival, the village turns into a beautiful paradise of bright colors. Holi festival is celebrated with an age-old tradition where women of the land beat up men with a small stick decorated with colorful cloth and paper.
This celebration is called Lathmar. Lathmar Holi is played exactly one week in prior to the actual celebration of Holi. Two days before Holi, the village celebrates Ladoo Holi during which all the households in the region make delicacies and share with others. On the Holi day, people conduct special rituals at home and temples before drenching each other with color water and powder. Tourists are more than welcome to be a part of this celebration.
2. Mathura & Vrindhavan Traditional Holi
If you want to enjoy a Holi festival without commercialization, we recommend you to visit Mathura or Vrindavan. Mathura is an ancient city and is believed to be the place where Lord Krishna was born. On Holi day, people start a long procession with music, dance and celebration from the temple to the Holi Gate. This marks the beginning of Holi festival, which takes place for one week.
The location of celebration in Vrindhavan is Banke Bihari temple. On the day before Holi, thousands of people visit the temple to participate in the Holi of God. Priest spray color water on the deity and on the devotees. The devotees chant in unison. It is a wonderful site to watch cultural and ritual activities.
On the Holi day, the celebrations start at 9 am in the morning. People throw color powder at each other inside the temple. Devotees specifically dress in light colors or white for enjoying the colors. Right outside the temple, you can find street foods, shops for souvenir shopping and much more.
3. Holi in Shantiniketan
If you want to enjoy a Holi festival filled with cultural activities, West Bengal’s Shantiniketan is the best spot to visit. Here, Holi is called as Basanta Utsav. You can find many cultural programs during this festival. Folk dance, music festival, puppet shows and much more are conducted throughout the city. The temples of the city conducts special rituals during this day.
4. Holi in Purulia
Purulia of West Bengal celebrates the spring with Basanta Utsav. However, it is quite dissimilar to that of the one celebrated in Shantiniketan. Folk dance, Nauta dance, Chau dance and Darbarijhumur are conducted throughout the place. Baul musicians conduct concerts at various spots in Purulia. The festival is celebrated in various places in the city.
However, the iconic celebration is conducted at Bandhar Deul, an ancient temple. Thousands of people visit the temple early in the morning to enjoy music performances and enjoy with colors. Mohua, a local beverage is served to people who enjoy Holi in the temple. The evenings are dedicated for dance forms.
An open-air theatre is constructed and people enjoy folk performances. On the day after Holi, poetry recitals take place in the temple. Short folk performances also takes place at various places.
5. Holi in Anandpur Sahib
Holi is celebrated in cliché manner with rituals, cultural activities and many colors in Andandpur Sahib, Punjab. On the day after Holi, Hola, a Sik festival is celebrated in Anandpur Sahib.
A day before Holi, a large three-day fair is conducted which ends on Hola, the Sikh New Year. You can enjoy fireworks, music, poetry, dance forms, martial art performance and many others. A military styled procession is conducted near the Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib.
6. Holi in Udaipur
Udaipur celebrates Holi in a royal style. On the evening before Holi, Holika Dahan is conducted. The royal family of Udaipur take part in the iconic procession of the celebration, seated on elephants or horses. The whole city forms a procession of dance, music and celebration and follows the royal family from the palace to Manek Chowk. If you like a royal experience then head to the rich capital of Mewar kingdom. See processions on decked up horses, court dancers and traditional folk music performances.
A large bon fire is conducted in the chowk region, which is followed by several dance and music performances. By the end of the day, a large puppet of demon Holika is burnt in the fire, recreating a mythical scene, which leads to the celebration of Holi. On the day of Holi, buckets of color waters are thrown at anyone found on the street. People enjoy with folk dance and music. The hotels & restaurants in Udaipur conduct live night dance programs with DJ. Udaipur is one of the top places to visit in India for Holi Celebration.
7. Holi in Delhi
If you’re the partying type then hit Delhi especially during Moo Holy Festival with loud music, parties, stage shows, etc.
8. Holi in Goa
Celebrate Holi at the happening beaches in Goa that also hosts Shigmo with large playacting, mythological cut-outs, huge processions and fun.
9. Holi in Hampi
One of most ancient cities known as ‘temple town’ is full of visitors who smear each other with colors and there’s loud music, drums.
Important tips for celebrating Holi Festival in India
Holi is a fun filled celebration and it is generally done in crowds. Read these tips to celebrate Holi in India to make this a memorable festival celebration if you don’t mind getting colored or drenched.
1. The powders are are not completely natural and may contain some chemicals. They are sold loose and you don’t know what is added in them. So, if you’re allergic or have sensitive skin, keep away.
2. Protect exposed skin by smearing a generous amount of moisturizer, cold cream or coconut oil. It would also protect the skin and not allow the powder to enter or stick too hard on the skin.
3. Wear old clothes and footwear not new clothes because the dyes may not go away even after several washes.
4. Try to keep a large pair of sunglasses on throughout even if it is not sunny outside to protect your eyes.
5. Finally, cover your head with a shower cap or wrap an old scarf so that the dye does not affect hair.
6. Solo female travelers must be wary of intoxicated and rowdy aggressive type of people/ celebrations in large groups where things can go wrong. Celebrate in smaller groups privately with friends or at smaller organized events.
Holi is celebrated in a lively manner throughout India. Remember that the locals will throw color water at strangers without considering their attire, belongings or others. Thus, cover your cameras and other precious items.
If you want to take part in the color festival, apply a thick layer of coconut oil in your body and hair. This will help you remove the colors easily after the festival.
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Frequently Asked Questions about Holi Celebration
Q. What is Holi festival?
A. The main importance or significance of the ‘festival of colors’ is that it marks the arrival of Harvest or Spring season. There are two main sections in this festival – Holika Dahan and Rangwali Holi.
The colorful festival is also mentioned in the Sanskrit literature and Hindu mythology. This joyous festival full of excitement and exuberance dates back to almost 4th century AD. There is also an ancient mythological famous play known as ‘Ratnaval’ where the scenes of Holi is described exactly.
Q. What are the best destinations to visit in India for Holi Celebration 2022?
A. Goa, Mathura, Barsana, Hampi, Jaipur, Udaipur, Mumbai, and Delhi are the best destinations to visit in India in 2022.
Q. When Holi is Celebrated in India in 2022?
A. In 2022 Holi is celebrated on 19th March, and Holika Dahan is on 18th March.
Q. Is Holi is Celebrated in South India?
A. Holi is the festival that is celebrated mostly in various part of North India, not in South India.
Q. When Holi is Celebrated in India in 2022?
A. Holi is the one of the most famous festivals of India that are celebrated in various regions of India. In 2022 Holi is celebrated on 10th March, and Holika Dahan is on 9th March.
Q. How Long is Holi Celebrated?
A. Holi 2022 is for two days celebrated on March 9th and 10th but the rituals start 2 – 3 days earlier.
Q. Where is Holi Celebrated in India ?
A. Holi in Barsana, Mathura & Vrindhavan Traditional Holi, Holi in Shantiniketan, Holi in Purulia, Holi in Anandpur Sahib, Holi in Udaipur, Holi in Delhi, Holi in Goa, Holi in Hampi.
Q. Where is the best place to participate in Holi in India?
A. Best places to participate in Holi in India where you can witness some craziest Holi celebrations include Jaipur, Vrindavan, Delhi, Udaipur, Uttarakhand, Awadh, and Purulia.
Q. What is the special dish of Holi?
A. Gujiya – an authentic Holi Dish.