By : Kauser Khan, Associate Editor-ICN 

LUCKNOW: The colour of festival always helps in bringing the beautiful smile on the faces.People enjoys its every moment truly with much fervor and ethusiasm.

Across the world wherever Indians or people of Indian origin are present Holi is celebrated with gusto and bonhomie. People play with colours, light a bonfire called Holika and celebrate the victory of good over evil.

Well, the essence of any festival is to take a break from the daily humdrum of life and make it interesting. The other major intention of celebrating festival is to bring people together and generate a feeling of brotherhood and spread harmony all around.

Holi is one of the major festivals in India and is celebrated with extreme enthusiasm and joy. Gulal, abeer and pichkaris are synonymous with the festival.

Elaborate plans are made to color the loved ones. Everybody wants to be the first one to color the other. In the ensuing battle of colors, everybody is drowned not just in colors of gulal but also in love and mirth. People love to drench others and themselves in colored water. Gujiyas and other sweets are offered to everyone who comes across to color.Temples are beautifully decorated at the time of Holi.

The first day known as Chhoti Holi or Holika Dahan and the second as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan.

This year, the festival falls on March 20 and March 21. People smear each other playfully with colours, spend time together with family members and loved ones and indulge in melt-in-mouth sweets during this time.

The word Holi is derived from the word “hola” the meaning of which is to offer prayers to the gods for good harvest. Holi has a lot of fascinating legends attached to it. It is said that Hiranyakashyap, a demon king, wanted to be immortal. While he wanted everybody to treat him like God, his son Prahlada was a devotee of Vishnu.

Strongly disapproving, he asked his sister Holika to enter into a furnace with his son Prahlada on her lap. While Holika had the power to protect herself from the fire, she had to sacrifice her life when Lord Vishnu saved Prahlada from the fire and killed Hiranyakashyap instead. This is why the festival is celebrated as the victory of good over evil.While people smear each other playfully with gulaal or colours, they also sing and dance to traditional folk and classic Bollywood Holi songs.

From Lath Mar Holi celebrated in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh to Hola Mohalla, in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab to West Bengal’s Basantoutsav, each has its own traditions and practices that not only attracts people from India but all over the world.With loud and cheerful cries of “Bura na mano holi hai” in the air, people indulge in delicacies like gujiyas, malpuas, mathri, puran poli, dahi vada and the quintessential Holi drink called thandai.

Delhi being the capital and the heart of India, celebrates Holi with extreme enthusiasm.Being a metro city, an amalgamation of cultures and traditions can be witnessed here. Virtually all aspects of Holi as seen in various states are noticeable in the numerous pockets of Delhi.Being a political hub of the country, Delhi sees huge enthusiasm even among the politicians. Holi is also celebrated at the Presidents and Prime Minister residences where people gather to play Holi. Cultural events and lots of fun mark the day.

In Bengal, Holi is known by the name of ‘Dol Jatra’, ‘Dol Purnima’ or the ‘Swing Festival’.The festival is celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs.

All this while men keep spraying coloured water and colour powder, ‘abeer’ at them.Holi is regarded with the name of Phagwah or the festival of colours in Assam. It is a 3-5 day affair for the people residing in here. Though, all the local regions of Assam have the same rituals during Holi, Barpeta is known to celebrate it in an entirely unique and grand style. Many people from other parts of India, world and Assam itself travel to Barpeta to enjoy the Doulutsava!

The interesting fact to mark about Holi in Himachal Pradesh is that thousands gather at the holy shrine of Ponta Sahib in Sirmour district on the banks of Yamuna. The shrine is highly regarded and people have great faith in it. No wonder, they choose the auspicious day of Holi to seek divine blessings.

Kullu Holi is marked by mixing snow with colours- making it an ‘Ice-Holi’. While, the main celebrations are held at the world famous Slang Pass, which witnesses heaviest snowfall in the country.

Karnataka is one such place in India where Holi is celebrated with utmost pomp and gaiety. In the state of Karnataka, people do not know this colourful festival with the name Holi rather it is known with the name Kaamana Habba.

The Banjara tribes of Andhra Pradesh celebrate Holi in their own way. Graceful dances are performed by the colourful Banjara gypsies.

At Punjab, they call it ‘Hola Mohalla’. They shout, and shout their hearts out following a peculiar tradition. Besides, they also exhibit their martial arts specially ‘kushti’ on this day and make merry with the colours in the evening. Mouthwatering halwas, puris, gujias, a preparation of raw jack fruit and malpuas are of course, an essential part of the festivities.

Kerala Holi is known with the name, Manjal Kuli and it is celebrated in Gosripuram Thiruma’s Konkani Temple. On the succeeding day of the celebration, the entire Kudumbi community, play with colours by hurling at each other water mixed with turmeric and dance and sing.

The Panaji Shigmotsav Samiti also organizes a parade in Panaji. Besides, numerous temple around Goa also make special arrangements for Holi celebrations. Of interest is the celebrations at Panaji, Mapusa, Vasco Da Gama and Margao.

Holi is celebrated with the same fervour and charm in Bihar as in rest of north India. Here too, the legend of Holika is prevalent. On the eve of Phalgun Poornima, people light bonfires. They put dung cakes, wood of Araad or Redi tree and Holika tree, grains from the fresh harvest and unwanted wood leaves in the bonfire.

Gujarat reverberates with the chants of the folk song’Govinda ala re, zara matki sambhal Brijbala.’ People, specially the youth of the state are high on the spirit of the festival.

The tradition followed in Orissa is quite similar to that of West Bengal with only minor region specific changes. For instance, Holi assumes the name of ‘Dol Purnima’ here also, but instead of placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on the swing they place the idol of Lord Jagannath.

In Uttarakhand Khadi Holi is celebrated mostly in rural parts of the state. In this form of Holi, people dance and sing songs based on the theme of Holi. People white wearing Kurta and payajama forms group, to dance to the tunes of hurka and dhol.Baithki holi celebration starts a little earlier than that of the Khadi holi. People dance on the tunes of some heart warming ethnic music in groups called tolis.

The erstwhile Royal community of Rajasthan have their own way to celebrate Holi with the locals. On this day, members of the royal family come out in their most dazzling attires and mingle with the commoners. Previously, the occasion was marked by the grand display of the equestrian skills by the royal princes.

People of Tamil Nadu celebrate Holi around the legend of Kama Deva. On this day, songs are sung that tell the pathetic tale of Rati and her lamentations. Holi is known by three different names here, Kamavilas, Kaman Pandigai and Kama-Dahanam.

People of Maharashtra celebrate Holi like the North Indians. Play with colours is reserved for Rangpanchami, which comes five days after Phalgun Poornima.The state also gets its unique Holi flavour with the delicacies such as Puran Poli. Besides people drink sugarcane juice and feed children with watermelons that are in season.

In Manipur ‘Thabal Chongba’ is also associated with holi festival. Thabal, means moonlight and Chongba means dance. Though earlier only drum or dholak, was allowed to be used for this special dance, now modern musical instruments are also used.

Pondicherry too has a special way of playing Holi. They play this colourful day with organic hues of colours. It is a common practice in prominent places like Auroville to mall society like Rainbow Nagar. The use of organic colours to play Holi is something very unique and not followed so thoroughly in other parts of India.

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