It is that time of the year when there are colours all around! Holi, one of the most vibrant festivals of India brings with it an atmosphere of excitement and sheer joy. The festival that signifies the victory of good over evil also marks the beginning of the spring season in India. Essentially a festival of colours, Holi is also known for the myriad ways in which it is celebrated across India. Let’s take a look at the different Holi folklore surrounding the regional uniqueness of Holi Celebrations in India.
Rang Panchami – Maharashtra: In western India, particularly in Maharashtra, Holi is colloquially known as Rang Panchami or Shimga. The celebrations include all the Holika Dahan, a common tradition which involves lighting a firewood pyre on the night before the actual celebrations. On the following morning, which is the Rang Panchami day, people celebrate Holi with wet and dry colours and water. The festivities here can go on for a week. Highlights: Holika Dahan at night, Holi celebrations on the following day and weekend.
Royal Holi – Rajasthan: Moving further north to Udaipur, Rajasthan, locals here too follow the traditional practice of Holika Dahan, albeit a bit differently. The celebrations here are known to be truly grand and are organized by the royal Mewar family of Udaipur. There is a grand procession as part of the festivities, and it includes several decorated horses and the royal band. The traditional fire is lit later and an effigy of Holika is set on fire. Highlights are the Holika Dahan at night and a grand procession by the royal Mewar family of Udaipur
Hola Mohalla – Punjab: As we go further up north to Punjab, an interesting fact comes up. Holi here is actually known as Holla Mohalla here. It is celebrated a day after Holi and is, in fact, a celebration commemorating the bravery of Sikh Warriors. The celebrations are characteristic of a particular sect, known as the Nihang Sikhs. The festivities include an extensive display of traditional martial arts which is later followed by music and dancing. Highlights of the event are: Martial Arts display and music and dance
Kahila Holi aka Khadi Holi aka Baithaki Holi – Uttarakhand: Moving to our final destination of North India, Uttarakhand, we discover that Holi here is actually known by a number of different names. Baithaki Holi, Mahila Holi, Khadi Holi are all common names for the festival here. Festivities here include revellers donning traditional attire and singing and dancing to folk tunes going around the city. This gathering of people is known as a Toli and locals greet each other by smearing colours on each other’s faces and dancing and singing all along. Unlike other parts of India, song and dance are an essential part of the Holi celebrations in Uttarakhand.
Lathmar Holi – Uttar Pradesh: The largest state of India and also one of the most interesting Holi celebrations in India. Lathmar Holi as it is known in local Bhojpuri has a different approach to the entire Holi festivities. Women here are armed with lathis, canes meant to hit the men and boys playfully during the festivities. The men, in turn, come prepared with a dhal, or a shield to protect themselves. The unlucky men who happen to get caught by the women are made to dress in female attire and dance on the streets. All of this is done primarily in jest and not aggressively.
Phaguwa – Bihar: Holi is known as Phaguwa in the local dialect, Bhojpuri. Like many other Indian states, Holika Dahan is an integral part of the celebrations here as well. The celebrations of Holika Dahan too are similar to other states. On the following day, Holi is celebrated with wet and dry colours and traditional music and folk songs throughout the day.
Yaosang – Manipur: Holi here is celebrated over six days and is locally known as Yaosang. The festivities here blend indigenous North Eastern and Hindi traditions. While there is a celebration of Holi with colours both dry and wet, the highlight of Holi here is the Thabal Chongba, a traditional Manipuri folk dance that is performed during the celebrations.
Dola – Odisha: The main highlight of Holi in Odisha is that it celebrates Lord Jagannath, also known as Dolagovinda. Along with the traditional smearing of wet and dry colours, there are processions of Lord Jagannath taken out in many cities and towns.
Ukuli/Manjal Kuli – Kerala: This state has its own unique version of Holi in the form of Manjal Kuli, also known as Ukuli. The Kudumbi and Konkani communities of Kerala are known to celebrate in this traditional manner and the festivities should not be missed! Unlike many other states of India, here the major colour used is turmeric or Manjal Kuli.
Shigmo – Goa: Shigmo, the local name for Holi in Goa is a massive celebration of spring. Street dances and traditional folk songs are performed by local farmers. And like every celebration in Goa, tourists take part with equal fervour in the Shigmo festivities as well. There are also many traditional Shigmo Parades conducted in various parts of the state which are a sight for sore eyes!