India is known for its festival; whether it’s Diwali or Holi. Holi is a Hindu festival which is celebrated all over India. Also known as the festival of colour, Holi is a celebration of good over evil as per several mythological stories. On this day people are all drenched in colour and have an enthusiastic colour fight and say Bura na mano Holi Hai! The festival generally falls in March and this year it will be celebrated on 9-10th March 2020. Here are the top 10 places you should be visiting to celebrate the Holi in a different city’s traditions.
1. Mathura & Vrindavan
The most popular place in India to witness the traditional version of Holi is Mathura & Vrindavan. Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan is known as a holy town. During Holi, both these towns are drenched with colours. You can visit Banke Bihari where the celebration begins the day before Holi. Even Phoolon wali Holi is also held before the festival where temple priests throw flowers at the devotees. So it is recommended not to miss the celebrations.
Their Lathmar Holi is renowned in Barsana. It is a rather strange tradition in which men are beaten with sticks by women while playing Holi. It’s a two-day festival near Mathura, in which women from Barsana beat Nandgaon’s men who come with the intent to tease them. Men should defend themselves using shields. On the second day, Barsana’s women go to Nandgaon to play Holi with Nandgaon’s men.
In Shantiniketan, the Holi festival is celebrated as Basanta Utsav i.e. the arrival of the spring season. The festival was started by renowned Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore at Vishva Bharati University. Students organise cultural and musical programs along with traditional dances. They also recite the poems of Tagore. In the end, they splash colours at one another. These cultural programs depict the history and culture of Bengal and draw many visitors.
In Delhi, every festival is celebrated in a grander way and one of them in Holi. People will spray color on you if you walk down the street even on strangers also. You can indulge in delicacies like gujiyas, bhang lassi, street food, etc. Special Holi festivals like Holi Moo Festival are also held where best independent music acts take place. There will be no best place other than Delhi to enjoy this festival authentically.
Holi is more celebrated in the northern parts than in the southern, but if you are in South India and looking for the place where Holi is celebrated then head to Hampi, Karnataka. The temples here hold many festive special rituals and people gather on the streets to splash colours and dance to the drum beats. After the celebration, they take a dip in the river as part of a tradition. Other than Holi, Hampi is counted among the top heritage sites in India. So if you are around this time, do participate in the celebrations. Besides the festival, there are many historic sites one can visit. You can book a tour guide from Odigos for the best experience.
Goa celebrates this festival in a completely different way. There a festival naming Shigmostav is held. It is a 14-day festival beginning on the 9th moon day to the full moon day. The festival begins out with the Naman (a song) and on the 5th day is called Rang Panchami which is characterized by the plentiful use of’ Gulal’. From 11h to last day, a parade takes place where people march all along the line and perform folk dances. Most of the festival is composed of elegant floats. Even the tourists and locals gather at beaches to celebrate the festival.
7. Kumaon Region
One of the most anticipated festivals of this region is Holi. The unique tradition of the Kumaon region can be seen through folk music and in its various forms, including Khadi Holi, Mahila Holi, and Baithki holi. In Baithki Holi, Classical ragas to Lord Krishna are sung. The Mahila Holi is kind of similar to Baithki Holi; the only difference here is that the meetings only consist of women. And in Khadi Holi, those you come up to sing will be wearing traditional dress and often carry musical instruments. During your stay, you will be submerged in the vibrant ambience the Kumaon region has to offer.
There is a 3 day Basanta Utsav folk festival held in Purulia, Kolkata that goes up to Holi. Local sing and play Holi. You can also witness some of the folk dances like Chau, Darbari Jhumur and Natua. Bengal’s famous Baul musicians sing melodic songs which make it one of the best festivals in this region.
The Holi celebration in Udaipur is magnificent and royal. A day before Holi, people light bonfire called Holika Dahan to ward against the evil spirits. A grand celebration held by the royal family at City Palace where foreign tourists and guests are honoured. Also, palace procession including royal horses and Royal Orchestra will take place. Lately, a big image of Holika is burned at the end of the celebration.
10. Anandpur Sahib
In Punjab, Holi is celebrated in quite a different way. An annual fair naming Hola Mohalla is held in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab every year to celebrate this festival. The fair dates back to 1701 when the tenth guru Sikh Guru Gobind Singh arranged it for the first time to celebrate Holi. The three-day festival is accompanied by kirtan, music and poetry contests, martial arts, etc. Tasty halwas, puris, gujias, and malpuas are some of the special delicacies that are eaten and served during this time. So plan a trip and experience the Holi in Sikh way!
These are our top ten recommendations. Holi is perhaps the most celebrated festival in India with different traditions in each place. To know more about these places or another place, do check out the Odigos app. They have the best tour guides and packages to offer.