Holi Celebration in India
Holi is an Indian festival that marks the arrival of spring. It is known as “Festivals of colors”. Literally “Holi” means “burning” in the Indian language. Holika Dahan is also called Kamudu pyre. It is celebrated by burning Holika- THE DEVIL. After sunset, the pyre is lit which signifies Holika Dahan. This ritual of burning pyre on the eve of Holi symbolizes the victory of good over evil. People sing and dance around the fire. The next day Holi is celebrated all over India with great zeal and enthusiasm. Holi is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India.
1. PUNJAB-HOLLA MOHALLA
In Punjab, Hola Mohalla is celebrated a day after Holi. It is also known as Warrior Holi. Nihang Singhs (warriors of the Guru) exhibit Gatka to show their strength and courage. Gatka is a style of stick fighting, with wooden sticks intended to simulate swords. After this Holi is celebrated with colors. This unique style of celebration was started by Sikh’s tenth guru Guru Gobind Singh in 1701. The guru started the tradition of mock battles and poetry contests. Also, there is a three-day fair at Anandpur Sahib which ends on Hola Mohalla day.
2. HARYANA-DULANDI HOLI
There is a very interesting ritual which marks this festival in Haryana. On this occasion brother’s wife get a chance to beat her brother in law. Some ladies must be thinking of getting married in Haryana to get this chance. But this is done in a good humor. She beats him with her sari rolled up into a rope in a mock rage. In the evening the brother in laws come with sweetmeats for their sister in laws to earn their goodwill. This tradition brings a general feeling of harmony and any hard feeling of animosity is forgotten.
3. MAHARASHTRA-RANG PANCHAMI
In Maharashtra, Holi is celebrated as a social get together. The festival is called Shimga also.All play by smearing colors and splashing water on one another. After that, men soaked with colored water walk through the streets and make alert calls that take care of pots of butter and milk otherwise Krishna will come and eat it up. By doing this they remember the childhood of Krishna who used to steal butter and milk with his friends.They also hang a pot of buttermilk high in the street. Men forming a human staircase try to break this pot, and the one who succeeds is crowned the Holi king of the locality for that year. Also, Fisherfolk drink sugarcane juice and children eat watermelon. The highlight of the festivity is “Puranpoli”, a sweet dish made of roti and jaggery filling.
4. BENGAL-DOL YATRA
In Bengal, Holi is a major festival and is called Dol Yatra. Dol Yatra means swing festival. This festival is dedicated to Sri Krishna. On this auspicious day, Idols or pictures of Radha and Krishna are decorated with flowers, leaves, colored clothes and are placed on swinging palanquin. All devotees take turns to swing the palanquin. Women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs whereas men spray colored water and powder called “Abeer” on the devotees. Dol Yatra or Dol Purnima has a major significance for Bengalis because this is also the birthday of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu- The great Vaishnava saint.
Yaosang is a six-day festival of Manipur, celebrated on the full moon day of Phalguna. The traditional Yaosang festival of Manipur amalgamated with Holi in the 18th century with the introduction of Vaishnavism. The main highlight of the festival is Thabal Chongba. It is a folk dance. The literal meaning of Thabal is ‘moonlight’ and Chongba means ‘dance’, thus ‘dancing in the moonlight’. A thatched hut of hay and twigs and sticks is built and then set ablaze. The next day, boys go in groups to play Gulal with the girls. And in return for playing with them, the girls extract money from the boys. On the last day of the festival, various cultural activities are performed at the main Krishna temple.
14 day long Shigmo festival is also known as Shigmotsav in Goa. It has two forms of celebration: Dhakto Shigmo and Vhadlo Shigmo. Dhakto Shigmo is celebrated by rural population, farmers and labor class, while Vhadlo Shigmo is celebrated by everyone else.The main highlights of this festival are the Shigmo parade. Shigmo Parade illustrates the life of a Goan by performing traditional folk dances like Ghode Modni and Fugdi and mythological scenes on streets of Goa. This is celebrated to honor the homecoming of the warriors who had left their homes and families at the end of Dusshera to fight the invaders.
7. UTTAR PRADESH-LATHMAR HOLI
Barsana, Nandgaon, Mathura and Vrindavan regions in the states of Uttar Pradesh has a unique style of celebrating Holi. They celebrate Lathmar Holi. ‘Lathmar’ means ‘hitting with sticks’. On this occasion, Women chase the men playfully with sticks and beat them up with lathis(sticks). Lathmar Holi in Uttar Pradesh begins seven days before the rest of India observes Holi. It is colorful, noisy and boisterous.