Saturday, April 13, 2024

Shades of Holi In Colorful Bharat

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If you thought that Holi is celebrated mostly in Northern Bharat, you are wrong! This festival of colors is marked across India with unparalleled joy and fervor. The last Poornima of Phalgun is rejoiced in the form of this vibrant Utsav of Colors. It is a time for people to come together, forget their differences, and immerse themselves in the colors, love, and happiness.

While the essence of Holi remains the same throughout the country, the way it is celebrated varies from region to region. Consequently, Bharat is painted in different shades of Dharma. Thus, let’s explore the kaleidoscope of Holi celebrations in different parts of the nation.

Lathmar Holi in Barsana – Uttar Pradesh

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Lathmar Hol is celebrated in Barsana and Nandgaon of Brajbhoomi, Uttar Pradesh. This unique and lively tradition is a playful twist to the festival. In this colorful extravaganza, women chase men with sticks or lathis in their hands. The women are free to beat the men up if they can catch them!  The men, on the other hand, try to protect themselves with shields.

The theme of the day is : ‘Bura Na Mano Holi Hai’!!

This playful teasing in the streets of Mathura symbolizes teasing between Lord Krishna and Radha. The procession of gulal and songs celebrated the life of Lord Krishna, Mathura Nagarpati! The air is filled with laughter and the echoes of tradition. The Sanatani populace of Brajbhoomi engages in this friendly battle of colors and camaraderie.

Gobar Holi in Ujjain – Rajasthan

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In the desert state of Rajasthan, Holi takes on a rustic charm with the tradition of Gobar Holi. Many years ago 13 akharas in Ujjain decided to mark this Rangutav with cow dung and water, instead of dry colors.

Some people play with organic colors mixed into this cow dung or Gobar.

This unique form of Holi came into being to celebrate ‘cows’ or Gau Mata. Sanatanis share a close mother-child relationship with cows. Additionally, the animal plays an important and sacred part in Hindu culture. Thus, the earthy aroma of cow dung, and laughter echoes through the streets of some towns in Rajasthan. As people smear each other with colorful gooey paste, they spread joy and happiness in their unique way.

Phoolwali Holi in Vrindavan – Uttar Pradesh

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In the land of Radha and Krishna, Holi takes on a more romantic tone with Phoolwali Holi. Flowers are the theme of this celebration. Devotees gather in the temples of Vrindavan and Mathura to celebrate Holi by showering flower petals on each other instead of dry colors.

Marigolds, rose petals, and other colorful blooms make this celebration a mesmerizing and fragrant spectacle.

The temple’s air resonates with the melodious chanting of devotional songs. The people lose themselves in Bhakti and Prem. The Phoolwali Rangutsav is a unique and divine experience that showcases devotion.

Basanta Utsav in Shantiniketan – West Bengal

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When Rabindranath Tagore’s ideology meets the celebration of culture in Shantiniketan, Basanta Utsav is born. Inspired by Nobel laureate Tagore, this festival is a cultural extravaganza that celebrates the spirit of spring! Art, drama, devotional songs, and cultural shows make Holi at Shantiniketan a very sought-after experience.

At this abode of Tagore’s ideology, people from all walks of come together to sing, dance, and play with colors.

The Utsav is a joyous celebration of life and creativity. Women wear Palaash flowers in their hair and don beautiful yellow (Basanti) saris to mark the day. The vibrant hues of spring flowers adorn the surroundings as students and artists showcase their talents in the town as well as the University! An amalgamation of music, dance, and theatrical performances, Basanta Utsav of Shantiniketan celebrates the art and cultural heritage of Bengal as an enduring legacy of Tagore’s vision.

Ukuli in Manjal Kuli – Kerala

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The coastal regions of Alappuzha and Kollam districts in Kerala celebrate Holi as Ukuli. This unique tradition combines elements of folk rituals and Sanatani traditions. Kerala’s Kudumbi and Konkani communities are well-known for their customary Ukuli celebrations. The locals gather around bonfires to ward off evil spirits and seek the blessings of the Gods!

Additionally, traditional “Ukuli ” a heart-racing event adds a unique Kerala spice to the celebration.

Participants compete in small, thin, and graceful boats, also known as Ukuli. Apart from the race, people apply turmeric or natural colors to each other in this Rangotsav. The festivities are accompanied by traditional music and dance. Thereby, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere of joy and spirituality in God’s own country.

Kichad Holi 

While most of West Bergal immerses itself in Basanta Utsav, Puruliya witnesses pockets of Kichad Holi! Yes, you read it right. Some parts of Purulia have participants drenching themselves in mud water or Kichad! They wear unique masks and headgear while indulging in this form of Khela!! The stunning celebration combines folk traditions with artistic expression, as people revel in the joy of playing with colors amidst the rustic charm of rural Bengal.

Bihar also witnessed this form of celebration. Gobar and Kichad are the choice of colors during Rangutsav. Men and women connect with nature by celebrating this form of the festival. While the foreign media wonder ‘What’s wrong with India?’; part of Bharat submerges itself in marking the arrival of spring!

Yaoshang in Manipur

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Yaoshang is a five-day celebration of spring in the state of Manipur. However, its second day is known as the “Holi of Manipur.” This significant festival is a blend of folk and Sanatani traditions. Colorful processions, cultural performances, and communal feasting mark this day of joy. The people of Manipur come together to celebrate the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil.

Hola Mohalla in Punjab

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Holi by Nihang Sikhs is a vibrant celebration that showcases the martial spirit of the Sikhs. Nihang Sikhs perform daring feats of horsemanship and swordsmanship on this day to mark the festival. While most of Punjab celebrates the true spirit of Rangotsav, this spectacle of courage celebrates both tradition and bravery.

During Hola Mohalla in Punjab, Nihang Sikhs remember Guru Gobind Singh’s words and draw courage from the story of young Prahlad.

The Nihang Sikhs remember the legend of this fearless child who chanted the Lord’s name despite facing adversity. Similarly, Hola Mohalla commemorates the indomitable spirit of the Sikh warriors, emphasizing the importance of tradition, bravery, and spiritual conviction.

The Undivided Bharat

From the vibrant streets of Barsana to the tranquil temples of Vrindavan, Holi celebrations in Bharat are diverse. Each Rangutsav carries its own unique flavor of devotion, tradition, zeal, and joy. From the sands of Rajasthan to the hills of Manipur, this festival of colors brings the people of Bharat together. The splash abir or gulal, the vibrant Pallash flower, the bhang, the lath, the gobar, the Kichad, and the joy are all shades of Holi in India. 

These shades of celebrations embody the essence of Bharat’s vibrant and inclusive ethos. Who says that the North and South are different?

Just because the way of celebration changes, does that demote the feeling of being united in true diversity? The colors of Holi will fade away in a day, however, they leave behind memories of laughter, camaraderie, and the spirit of celebration. Across the length and breadth of India, Holi transcends barriers of caste, creed, and religion. It is a festival that celebrates the arrival of spring, the triumph of good over evil, and the joy of being alive. Let this Rangutsav carry Bharat forward in the spirit of love, harmony, and togetherness that defines this colorful festival.

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