Celebrating Holi !
With 28 states and 8 union Territories, India is a nation that has always been proud of its diversity. From food to clothing, language to traditions, one can spend a lifetime and still might not be able to witness and experience it all.
Many might not be aware that Holi, the festival of colors which falls on the full moon of Phalgun month of lunar calendar is celebrated in more than 10 different fashions, with different names across India.
While the spirit of joy, use of colors and burning of bonfire or Holika dahan remains common in most of these celebrations yet all of them have their own uniqueness and charm which makes them worth witnessing atleast once.
Here is a brief of five such celebrations.
Shigmo – Goa : Vibrant Shigmo parades where religious scenes and scenes from regional mythology are depicted are highlight of this colorful celebration. Street and traditional dances along with folk songs are performed by farmers and people of the region.
Shigmo again is of two kinds Dhakto Shigmo and Vadhlo Shigmo i.e small and big Shigmo repectively. The former begins five days prior to Phalgun full moon day and ends on the full moon. It is celebrated mainly by farmers and rural population. While the latter is celebrated by everyone and it begins on the full moon day and continues for next five days.
Lathmar Holi – Barsana : Uttar Pradesh : Who hasn’t heard of this one! Holi in the land of Krishna and Radha.
People from all over the world come to India to witness the holi of Barsana and Nandgaon. Dressed in traditional attire women playfully hit menfolk with Laathis (canes) while men defend themselves with shields.
Hola Mohalla – Punjab: Hola Mohalla is celebrated a day after Holi. A huge fair is held at Anandpur Sahib. It is traditionally a three day affair which extends longer. The main highlight of this festival is the brave display of martial arts and mock battles by the participants. Kirtan, folk dance, music and langar are integral part of this festival.
On the last day a procession starts froms Takhat Keshgarh Sahib and passes through various important gurudwaras culminating again Takhat Sahib. The procession is led by honourable panj pyaras.
Khadi (standing) holi /Baithaki (sitting) holi/ Mahila (women) holi– Kumaon region , Uttarakhand : Apart from colors, music and songs hold an important place in all these three forms of Kumaoni Holi. Great attention is paid to the words and even the raags. The songs here are not just about happiness and fun but are majorly related to spirituality. Bathaki holi is also known as Nirvan (salvation) Holi. The festivities start from Basant Panchami and continue till holi.
Also, having Cheer or Paiya tree branch in the middle of the Holika bonfire is an important tradition of the region. Hence, Holika dahan here is also known as cheer dahan.
Yaosang – Manipur : Starting from the full moon it is a five day celebration. It starts with the burning straw hut at the sunset. On the first day of Yaosang kids go to every house asking for Nakatheng or monetary donations for the festival. Thabal Chongba or the moonlight dance is one of the major highlight of this festival.
Apart from these famous celebrations other popular celebrations are Royal Holi in Udaipur-Rajasthan, Shimga and Rang Panchami in Maharashtra, Ukuli /Manjal kuli in Kerela, Basant utsav and dol jatra in West Bengal, Phaguwa in Bihar and Dola in odisha.
Wishing all readers a colorful holi!