10 Unique Ways India Celebrates Holi

The traditional way of celebrating Holi involves smearing colored powder, known as gulal, on each other's faces, but there are many unique ways in which different regions of India celebrate the festival. From lighting bonfires to throwing flowers, each tradition adds its own charm to the festivities. In this article, we'll take a closer look at 5 unique ways in which India celebrates Holi.


1. The Fiery Hut

Chhattisgarh is home to a variety of ethnic groups, and many of the state's rural and small-town residents who usher in the festival of Holi in a special way. On the first day of Holi, Chattisgarhi Jada is made using the Karma Dar tree and dry wood branches. The structure resembles a hut. This structure is then worshiped in the evening by a member of the baiga tribe. This ritual holds a lot of significance. The baiga then cuts the middle of the tree with an axe, and the partakers of this ritual take a piece of it to their homes. This piece is considered to cure many diseases by the natives of Chattisgarh. People celebrate by burning the hut, singing traditional songs, dancing, and enjoying the festivities around it. The ritual typically takes 2 to 3 hours to complete, and at the end of it, people throw dry grass into the burnt compound as a symbol of reverence.


Chhatisgarh Holi Celebrations
 Source: Gaon Connection


2. Swinging into Spring

‘Dol Jatra’ or simply ‘Dol’ is celebrated in West Bengal, and versions of it are celebrated in other states like Odisha, Tripura and Assam. According to legend, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a 16th-century Indian saint, popularized the tradition of celebrating Dol Jatra as a way of commemorating Lord Krishna's playful pastimes with the gopis in Vrindavan. In the Gaudiya Vaishnavism tradition, Dol Jatra is also celebrated as the anniversary of his appearance. Locals wear yellow or saffron-coloured clothes on this day and take part in the procession. The procession typically starts from a temple or a central location in the community and is led by devotees who carry the statue or deity of Lord Krishna and Radha on a palanquin. The statue is beautifully adorned with colorful clothes, jewelry, and fragrant flowers, and is also smeared with colored powder. The palanquin is also decorated, and it swings back and forth as it is carried through the streets. Devotees dance and sing songs in praise of Lord Krishna and Radha, while throwing abir and colored water on each other as a sign of joy and celebration.


Holi in Bengal
Source:  The Kolkata Mail


3. Keeping it Low-Key

Holi is not widely celebrated in Kerala, as it is not traditionally a part of the state's Hindu culture. Manjul Kuli, also known as Ukuli, is the local name for Holi in Kerala. Although it is not as popular as it is in other parts of India, it is still an important festival celebrated for a handful of communities in Kerala. The Konkani temple becomes the epicenter of this festival, beautifully decorated with colorful flowers and lights. Devotees visit the temple on this day, and on the next day, celebrants throw turmeric and coloured water at one another. The festival is a time for people to come together, forget their differences, and celebrate the joy and happiness of spring.


Holi in Kerala
Source: asianetnews.com 


4. Prayers for a Bountiful Harvest

Assam’s Daul Utsav, similar to Bengal’s Dol Jatra, is the celebration of Holi as per Satriya tradition. Thousands of people throng at Barpeta Satra on Holi. A ritual called Meji Puoa is performed. In this ritual, Koilababa (the local name for Krishna) and his consort Rukmini are beautifully adorned, the couples are brought together near Meji (bonfire) and Koilababa circles seven times round this bonfire. This ceremony is performed on the first day of the month of Fagun Purnima (i.e. in the first half of March). The second day is called Bhar Doul while the last day is known as Phaku. The festival also marks the beginning of the agricultural season in Assam, and is an occasion for farmers to pray for a good harvest. 


Holi in Assam
Source: Assam Tribune


5. A Musical Extravaganza

Kumaoni Holi of Uttarakhand has three forms- Baithaki Holi, Khadi Holi and Mahila Holi. Gulaal is not the only way through which people of Uttarakhand celebrate Holi, rather, soul-stirring and vibrant songs are sung by the tribal groups. Classical ragas are vital to these songs. People dress up in their traditional clothes and 'holyaars' visit not only the homes in their own village but also those in the neighbouring villages. One of the unique features of Kumaoni Holi is the use of a special kind of paste called 'Aipan', which is made by mixing rice flour and water, and then using it to make intricate designs on the walls and floors of houses. A beautiful amalgamation of folk traditions is witnessed annually during this time.


Holi in Uttarakhand
Source: ekumaon.com


6. Lathis and Laughter

According to legend, the sacred festival of Holi originated in the Barsana region of India, which includes areas like Mathura, Vrindavan, and Nandgaon. As the name suggests, Lathmar Holi involves the use of "Lathis." On this day, Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha, who was from Barsana. He teased her and her friends, and the women chased him with Laths. However, this is not a beating session, the men come prepared to defend themselves. Witnessing this from a safe distance can be a fun Holi experience for tourists.


Holi in Barsana
Source: Zee News


7. A Fierce Fest

The Nihang Sikhs celebrate Hola Mohalla a day after Holi. Initiated by the 10th sacred Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, this festival is a means to develop the martial skills of society. During this period, warriors participate in various activities like Kushti, mock sword fights, martial arts, and various strength exercises. This region's Holi is also called "Warrior’s Holi," a mix of courage and strength with an artistic touch of poems followed by the vibrant colors of Holi.


How is Holi Celebrated in Punjabi
Source: Sanskriti Magazine


8. Torchlight Dance

Yaosang is a popular festival celebrated in Manipur, India, usually around the month of February or March, coinciding with the festival of Holi. It is marked by the day of the full moon and a blend of indigenous and Hindu traditions. The whole city seems like a homogenous blend of colors, as people paint themselves and the streets in pleasing colors of the sacred festival, Holi. The festival's attention-grabber is the "Thabal Chongba", a traditional Manipuri folk dance that involves young boys and girls holding hands and dancing in a circle, under the light of traditional torches.


Holi in Manipur
Source: Arunachal24.in 


9. Burn, Dance, Feast, and Forgive

In Maharashtra, Holi is celebrated with great enthusiasm and excitement, and the festivities start with the ritual of 'burning the effigy of Holika' or 'Holika-dahan,' symbolizing the victory of good over evil. This ceremony is performed after twilight on the night of the full moon, known as 'Purnimasi tithe.' The following day, known as Phalgun krushnapaksh Panchami, is celebrated as Rangpanchami, with the streets being flooded with Gulal, as people dance their hearts out. However, Holi Purnima is not the only celebration in Maharashtra. Shimga, which lasts for five to seven days, is also celebrated during this time. A week before the festival, youngsters collect firewood and money from the community, which is heaped into a huge pile in each neighbourhood on the day of Shimga. In the evening, the fire is lit, and every household brings a meal and dessert to honour the fire god. Puran Poli is the main delicacy, and children shout "Holi re Holi puranachi poli." Shimga celebrates the elimination of all evil, and on the day of Rang Panchami, which takes place five days after Shimga, people are expected to forget and forgive any rivalries and start new healthy relationships with each other.


Holi in Maharashtra
Source: SachinBaikar/Wordress


10. Love is in the Air

The Panguni Uthiram festival in Tamil Nadu celebrates the blossoming of love and marriage, with Rati and Kamadeva being worshipped in various regions. Temples also commemorate the marriages of prominent deities, including Parvati and Parameswara, Murugan and Deivanai, and Kodhai Aandaal and Rangamannar. At the Sarangapani temple in Kumbakonam, Narayana marries Komalavalli Naachiyar, and the Bhakthas are given Kalyana Kola Seva on this day. 

Valmiki's Ramayana also highlights the celebration of Sita and Rama's marriage on this day. Devotees flock to temples to witness these divine wedding ceremonies, and it is considered an auspicious date for finalizing engagements and weddings. According to the Brahmanda Puranam, Panguni Uthiram is also believed to be the day when all holy waters converge into the seven sacred tanks of Tirupati Tirumala.


Holi in Tamil Nadu
 Source: The Hindu



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