5 Best Places to Visit in India during Holi 2023
The much-awaited festival of colours is just around the corner, and we cannot keep calm. Holi is here with all its glory, beauty and traditions to fill us with joy and merriment. Our gulaal is packed, and so are the delicious treats; there’s festive music, and we are ready to cheer- ‘Happy Holi’.
Officially Holi 2023 is on March 8th, but in several places in India, like Mathura, Vrindavan, Orissa, and Bengal, the festivities begin a little earlier. You might want to put your curious pants on because there are some incredible legends around the history of Holi. Each story is glorified and celebrated very differently among the states of India. In some places, we relive the story of Prahlad and Holika and the triumph of good over evil. While on the other, we hear mesmerizing love stories of Radha and Krishna.
Let us take you to these places in India where Holi has unique traditions, and we get to relive stories of the past.
Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan (Uttar Pradesh)
Krishna's birthplace will undoubtedly make it to the top of the list with numerous Holi festivities. On Vasant Panchami, the last day of winter, the Holi festival in Vrindavan begins with a traditional puja to praise Lord Krishna.
The quirky element of the Holi celebration is the Matki Phod, an ancient custom in which a butter-filled clay pot is suspended high above the ground by a rope. Groups of men create pyramids and climb on each other's shoulders to break the pot, while women distract them by tossing Holi colours at them. This game is a reenactment of how Krishna used to steal butter from the neighbours, and they hid butter Matkis by suspending them with ropes. The 16-day festivities feature live Krishna Raas-Leela in several temples.
Uttar Pradesh also has the famous ‘Lathmar Holi’, where women strike men with sticks while dancing and singing. The men from Nandgaon visit Barsana, and the local ladies playfully whack them with sticks. This is the highlight of the Lathmar Holi celebrations. The custom is claimed to have started when Radha and her friends invited Lord Krishna to Barsana to play Holi.
Basanta Utsav in Shantiniketan (West Bengal)
In Shantiniketan, Holi is also known as Basanta Utsav or the Spring Festival. Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore established it as a cultural celebration in Shantiniketan, and the students of the Viswa-Bharati University dress in saffron-coloured attire and sing and dance to Tagore's songs.
Tagore was inspired by the colours of Holi in India and how it can bring unity among the people. Post the dancing and the singing, people play with colours, and this ceremony is called the ‘Dol Jatra’.
Dol Jatra is celebrated not just in Shantiniketan, but in every corner of Bengal. Men, women and children, all decked up in yellow and green, parade through the streets at the break of dawn, playing with gulaal, and singing songs of Tagore that speak of Holi.
Kumaoni or Khadi Holi in Kumaon (Uttarakhand)
A major musical event, Kumaoni or Khadi Holi is celebrated in the Kumaon region of Uttrakhand. The inhabitants celebrate Holi by dancing in groups while singing Khari songs and donning traditional attire such as Chudidaar, Nokdaar Topi, and Kurta Pyjamas. Traditional percussion instruments like the Dhol and Hurka are played. Later, the group advances in procession, greeting passersby and acquaintances.
The festivities go on for two months.
Kumaoni Holi is celebrated in several ways, including Khari Holi, Mahila Holi, and Baithki Holi, with music sung in various ragas beginning on temple grounds. Depending on the hour of the day, the songs are sung in a particular order. The colours used during Kumaoni Holi are another intriguing aspect. Much like Phool, their gulaal is formed from organic materials like water, ash, and flower extracts.
Hola Mohalla in Anandpur Sahib (Punjab)
In Punjab, the Hola Mohalla celebration is a contest of strength. The Nihang Sikhs put on the warrior Holi celebration, which is celebrated with great zeal by demonstrating martial arts prowess and shouting their hearts out. Although this Holi is not a festival of colour, the state's rural women decorate their walls and courtyards with Chowkpoorana murals to mark the occasion.
Royal Holi in Udaipur and Jaipur (Rajasthan)
Here you get to observe Holika Dahan on the eve of Holi, during which the villagers build bonfires to drive away evil spirits. The celebration is grandly presided over by the Mewar royalty of Udaipur. From the royal mansion to Manek Chowk in the city palace; the Holi group marches in procession. The parade is led by elephants and horses decorated in bright colours, followed by the royal band. Stunning elephant dances, a quirky tug-of-war between a group of men and women and an elephant, and an elephant polo match, all take place on the same day as the elephant festival.
With India being such a culturally and geographically diverse country, the list could go on and on. Reading about these different Holi traditions won't do them justice. You have to go out and experience them yourself. So why wait? Go on and explore the richness of culture and colour in our country.
Also, an added note of precaution: This Holi, opt for organic Holi colours, that are free from chemicals, and are safe for you and the planet.
We at Phool are proud to bring our collection of organic gulaal made from flowers, herbs and 100% natural ingredients. Feel free to check our Holi colours.
A very safe and happy Holi to you from the Phool family.