With Holi just round the corner, we all have been busy packing to go to places to celebrate this festival of colours. Every moment lasts for a second but gives a memory that is cherished forever. So in order to have these memories, let's celebrate this Holi by planning a trip to these five places where the festival of colours is marked in its true spirit.
1. Barsana, Uttar Pradesh
Barsana celebrates Holi in a very interesting way. The women of Barsana beat up men from Nandgaon with sticks, in what is known as Lath mar Holi. Barsana was the home of Radha where Lord Krishna teased the ladies and they reacted with friendly banter. Get to the Ladli Ji temple, dedicated to Sri Radha Rani to witness the bizarre and super fun tradition.
One day before Lathmar Holi, Laddu Holi is celebrated in Laadli Temple. In this unique holiday, thousands of Radha Rani’s devotees indulge in merrymaking with laddoos, sweets, and gulal.
Sweets, Thandai, spiritual songs related to Radha and Krishna and plays of colour make it a fun place to enjoy the festival. Arrive to the town a week before the festival as the celebrations start quite early.
2. Shantiniketan, West Bengal
Holi in Shantiniketan has a unique flavour. The festival is known as the Basanta Utsav (Spring Festival). Inspired by spring and the colours of Holi, famous Bengali poet and Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore introduced the occasion as an annual event in his Vishva Bharati University.
Shantiniketan greets spring with a profusion of colours, flowers, cultural events, dance performances, folk music, Tagore’’ songs, food and other fun activities. All attendees dress up in spring colours and flowers. Women dress up in traditional attires – yellow sarees and flame of the forest flowers. The campus echoes with melodious rhythm and dance beats. This event is celebrated a day before Holi is marked on calendars all over India. Soak in the eclectic ecstasy with Rabindra Sangeet. Be a part of the cherished portion of Bengali history and culture.
3. Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
Different from the way the rest of India celebrates Holi, Anandpur Sahib in Punjab follows the traditional way of Sikh warriors. Known as Hola Mohalla, the annual fair dates all the way back to 1701 when it was started by Guru Gobind Singh ji as a protest to rising Mughal intolerance.
The festivities at the Anandpur Sahib, one of the holy Sikh pilgrimages is worth your time. Instead of a play of colours, it is a demonstration of Sikh warriors known as blue-clothed Nihangs. These fierce warrior monks present physical agility and the traditional art of gathka, a form of martial art. There are music competitions, poetry, and mock battles. Swordsmanship and horse riding are also displayed here. Daring feats such as tent pegging are also performed. A long procession from Takth Keshgarh Sahib through various gurudwaras such as Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, and Mata Jitoji is held to culminate the festivities. Panj Pyaras led the procession. Attending the extravagant presentation, it is truly one of the unique ways to enjoy the festival.
4. Jaipur, Rajasthan
The advent of spring is marked with the festival of Holi and Jaipur celebrates the festival in royal style. The play of colours is the main highlight. The Pink City, Jaipur used to celebrate the festival of colours extravagantly with the elephant festival. Elephant parades, elephant beauty contests, folk dances, and tug-of-war between elephants, were the popular lures. This event hasn’t been held since 2012 due to pressure from animal rights groups.
If you are interested in Holi festival celebrations with elephants, try Eleholi. There are also a bunch of private parties and events which you can join for a dose of fun.
Other celebrations that make Holi in Jaipur a real treat include playing with the eco-friendly and safe ‘Gulaal Gotas’ or ‘Water Cannon Bowls’. Tourists from other countries have a whale of a time at the lawns of Khasa Kothi and near the railway station on MI Road. Rajasthani folk dance and music are organised here. At JKK, local folk performances with a lunch buffet can be enjoyed. City Palace also hosts Holi celebrations in royal fashion.
5. Udaipur, Rajasthan
To witness Holi celebrations in royal style, do visit Udaipur. Holi in Udaipur is an imperial affair that involves the participation of the royal family. The celebrations begin with Holika dahan, where the local Maharaj lights the ceremonial bonfire in the royal palace’s courtyard. This is known as Mewar Holika dahan. The locals perform ‘Gair’- a folk dance, around the bonfire. Thereafter, a royal procession takes off from Shambhu Niwas Palace and concludes at Manek Chowk royal residence. In the procession, the royals are seated on bedecked elephants, horses, and camels; accompanied by the royal music band. The palace now serves cocktails and dinner to its guests. Finally, the celebration culminates with amazing fireworks.
The next day people rejoice with the play of colours. Traditional sweets are prepared in households and people enjoy sharing the sweetness of the festival together. The festivities are not confined to the royal palace and Manek Chowk but also in the narrow alleys of the city. All in all, Holi celebration in Udaipur is an experience to be a part of.
Barsana, Shantiniketan, Anandpur Sahib, Jaipur: 10 Places Where You Should See Holi in India in 2021 (indianholiday.com)