No festival in India can match the vigour of Holi. This festival of colours accompanied by a lot of drinking and dancing is loved by the old and young alike and even draws a lot of tourists to India for it. While Indian television and films have increasingly focused on one kind of Holi, the others have slowly slipped away into isolated pockets. We bring these versions of the festival to the limelight once again.
According to local myth, it is believed that Holi began here in Barsana village in Uttar Pradesh. Interestingly, the festival here is celebrated not just with colours, but also lathis. Called Lathmar Holi, tradition demands that on this day women chase away the men with lathi sticks. While this may seem crazy, it's not a beating session as this is accompanied by a lot of revelry and compassion.
In Kumaon region of Uttarakhand, Khadi Holi as the festival is called here is more a musical gathering than a festival of colours. Locals wear traditional clothes, sing khari songs and dance in groups. Celebrated mostly in towns, it is also called Baithika Holi or Mahila Holi.
Observed by Nihang Sikhs, Hola Mohalla or Warrior Holi includes exhibitions of martial arts and songs. Celebrated a day before Holi, it is much loved festival of Punjab.
Basant Utsav and Dol Jatra
Basant Utsav is observed by the people of West Bengal to welcome the spring season. On this day, boys and girls dress up in saffron coloured clothes and partake in celebrations that include singing and dancing well late into the night. For Dol Jatra, idols of Radha and Krishna are taken to the streets in a procession on purnima day. Colours are thrown at each other during this procession.
This spring festival in Goa is a big attraction for the tourists. Over the years it has become a blend of traditional folk and street dances. One of the major festivals of Hindus here, the celebrations are mostly led by the farmers.
Combining Hindu and indigenous traditions, Yaosang festival lasts for six days in Manipur. Beginning on a full moon day, the festival comes to its peak with thabal chongba, a Manipuri folk dance, and is celebrated with a lot of colours.
Though not as popular in South India, Holi is still celebrated in small pockets. Here, like in many other parts of India, it has a very distinct name and is blended with many native traditions. Called Manjal Kuli, it is observed in all its splendour at Konkani temple in Gosripuram, Thirumala.
Called Phaguwa in the local Bhojpuri dialect in Bihar, the festival is celebrated with folk songs and colours derived from natural sources. It commences with the lighting of Holika pyre and often involves the consumption of Bhang. A similar festival is also observed in Assam where instead of the pyre, clay huts are burned down to signify the legend of Holika Dahan.
Perhaps the most fun version of all the Holi versions, Rang Panchami in Maharashtra takes place on the 5th day after Holika Dahan.
In the city of Udaipur in Rajasthan, Royal Holi as it is called here is strikingly more stately than the other forms. Udaipur's Mewar royal family leads this festival with the local lighting bonfires to rid evil spirits. A fancy procession follows which includes decorated horses and the royal band.