Holi is an ancient and popular Hindu religious festival celebrated throughout India. The colourful Holi festival is not only an obsession for the Hindus; it has attracted many people from various nations of the world. It is a spring festival, celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which occurs around the month of March. It is the second most widely celebrated festival of India after Diwali.
This festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the victory of good over bad. There are several mythological stories behind the origin of the festival. According to one belief, the festival celebrates the killing Holika, the sister of Hrinyakashyapu. Holi festival is also widely associated with the immortal love of Krishna and Radha. The festival also holds significance with respect to end of winter season and the onset of summer season.
Here are four most famous places in India to watch or play the Holi festival.
Mathura & Vrindavan
The Holi of Mathura and Vrindavan is extremely famous throughout the country. It attracts tourists and pilgrims from all over the world.
Mathura is the birth-place of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan is the place where he spent his childhood. Drenched in traditions and in the love of Lord Krishna, Mathura is definitely one of the top places to celebrate Holi in India. According to legend, the tradition of playing colors on Holi originated from the leela of Radha and Krishna. Mathura holds a renowned show in the week before Holi. A colourful and musical procession takes place from the temples to river then to the Holi Gate, where the festival is marked. The best place in Holi to catch the throwing of colors in Mathura is Dwarkadheesh Temple.
The Banke-Bihari Temple in Vrindavan is hosts a week long Holi celebrations. The event here takes place just a day before the main Holi festival. The temple opens up its doors to all visitors to come and play Holi. The town echoes with tales of Radha-Krishna and celebrates the festival with traditions, devotion and serenity.
The Holi customs in the temple are unique, as there is not play of conventional dry or wet colors, but flowers, and hence the name Phoolon wali holi (Flowers’ Holi). The temple priests’ shower the pilgrims with flowers in a way showering the blessings of the Lord. Arrive quite before the gate opens to get a close up position.
Barsana in Uttar Pradesh is famous for ‘Lath mar’ Holi. Barsana was the home of Radha where Krishna went to tease her and her friends. On the first day of Holi, men from Krishna’s village Nandgaon, travel to Barsana to tease the women there. The women chase men and hitting them with sticks, hence the name Lathmar Holi. The main celebrations at Barsana, take place at the Ladliji temple, dedicated to Sri Radha Rani. Sweets, Thandai, spiritual songs related to Radha and Krishna and play of color make it a fun place to enjoy the festival.
Santiniketan has the distinct identity of culture and heritage, which gives the place a unique soft touch. Santineketan was previously called Bhubandanga (named after Bhuban Dakat, a local dacoit). Tagore family came to be owned this place. Rabindranath Tagore's father Maharshi Debendranath Tagore attracted by the beauty of this place and established Saantiniketan in 1863.
The Holi festival in Shantiniketan has a unique flavor. The Holi is celebrated as Basanta Utsav or Spring Festival here. Rabindranath Tagore started Dol utsav or Basanta Utsav in his institution with colorful cultural programs. The students of Visva-Bharoti celebrate Basanta utsav in very special way. They make the festival more colorful and attractive with their magnificent live performance.
Students dress up in yellow color and present some wonderful folk dances and cultural programs followed by the throwing of colours. The celebrations start a day earlier than Holi and are now considered an important part of the Bengali heritage. A huge number of tourists arrive every year at Shantiniketan to witness and participate in these celebrations.
Holi is one of the major festivals celebrated in Rajasthan and Jaipur celebrates the festival in royal style with great patron from royal families of Rajasthan. The celebrations stretch for two days. The first day of Holika Dahan is observed at the City Palace in Udaipur. The customs of lighting the Holika Dahan is traditionally performed by the current custodian of the Mewar dynasty. The following morning, the celebrations of Holi are all out on the streets.
The Pink City, Jaipur used to celebrate the festival of colors extravagantly with the elephant festival. Every year the Holi festival begins with a massive parade including elaborately decorated elephants, camels, horses, and folk dancing through the streets. There are also elephant polo, elephant races and tug-of-war between elephants.
😀 Happy Holi 😀