Pack you bags and head to one of these places to celebrate Holi in a unique way. By Satyaki Sarkar
Known as the festival of colours, Holi is probably one of the most vibrant and energised Indian festivals. But while traditionally Holi simply involves throwing colour and water balloons at each other, the festival takes on different forms around the country. Some celebrations also take place at interesting locations, adding to the fun. So check out how the rest of the country plays Holi and get ready to book yourself a ticket there!
1. Vrindavan Holi Festival
One of the most important festivals in Vrindavan, Holi is celebrated with immense zest and zeal all across the city. Signalling the coming of Spring and end of the cold winter, the celebrations take place on the day of Vasant Panchami. Large crowds smeared in vibrant colours come out to take part in the festivities, playing music and dancing. Two days before this, a different kind of Holi celebration, known as Phoolonwali Holi, takes place in the city, where temple priests shower devotees with flowers. In recent years, an entirely new celebration, known as the Widow’s Holi, has become very popular as a means of breaking free from the convention that stopped widows from playing with colours or wearing anything but white.
Photograph: JS Jaimohan/Creative Commons
2. Yaosang Festival of Manipur
Holi is a vital part of the magnificent Yaosang festival of Manipur, which is a six day extravaganza starting from the full moon day of Phalguna. Combining Hindu and indigenous traditions, it is considered the most important festival in Manipur, and starts just after sunset with the Yaosang Mei Thaba, or Burning of the Straw Hut, in the villages of Manipur. Several folk dancers and musicians gather to perform, while brilliant fluorescent lamps are lit all over the villages. Much like the traditional Holi, revellers also play with gulal, surrounded by bonfires set up as part of the celebrations.
Photograph: Kamalakanta777/Creative Commons
3. Holi in Hampi
While south India is not typically known for celebrating the festival of colours, Hampi is a place that proudly stands apart in this aspect. Due to its popularity as a tourist spot and a highly sought-after destination for western travellers, Holi has become one of the biggest festivals of all in Hampi. Foreigners and Indians alike take part in the celebrations, dancing to music, while smearing each other with gulal, or spraying coloured water at each other, revelling in the spirited atmosphere of the place.
Photograph: Andrea Kirkby/Flickr
4. Holi in Purulia, West Bengal
Holi is a major festival in the state, but is celebrated quite differently in Purulia. Here, it forms a part of the famous Basanta Utsav folk festival that takes place over three days culminating on Holi day. While singing and playing with colours form a major part of the celebrations, the main attraction is the wide variety of unique folk art and performances that the festival is known for. From the incredible Chau dance, Darbari Jhumur, and Natua dance to musical performances by West Bengal’s wandering Baul musicians, it is simply an experience not to be missed.
Photograph: Kuntal Gupta/Flickr
5. Holi in Delhi
Holi is known to be quite a rollicking and boisterous celebration in Delhi. Primarily celebrated near the locality of Paharganj, shopkeepers and children alike take part in the festival, decking anyone and everyone who passes through in a striking mix of colours. However, it is the Holi Moo Festival that you should be heading to. If you can manage to get tickets, experience this high-spirited musical festival of colours that sees over 40 Indian and international performers take to four different stages. Safe, non-toxic colours are provided, along with bhang lassi, delicious street food, and sprinklers to take your own pot-shots at fellow revellers, while dancing your cares away.