If you thought Holi was just about playing with colours, then think again. From the Lathmar Holi of Barsana, to Kodamar Holi of Beawar, the festival of colours is celebrated in diverse ways. We list three places which are known for their unique way of celebrating Holi.
Braj, Uttar Pradesh
No one plays Holi like the people of Braj. You need to visit the land of Lord Krishna to realize that the Brajwasis are not exaggerating. And when in Braj, nothing can match the excitement and action experienced during Lathmar Holi of Barsana. Legend has it that Lord Krishna used to visit Barsana, Radha’s village, on Holi. Taking offence at his pranks, Barsana women chased him away. As a re-enactment of that event men from Krishna’s village, Nandgaon, visit Barsana on Holi. Women clearly enjoy an upper hand and they utilize it to the hilt to beat the daylight out of the men. Men use shields to save themselves from the blows. All this happens as part of Holi revelry and no offence is taken even if the staffs miss the shields.
Goa’s answer to the festival of colours, Shigmotsav can be termed a fusion between Holi and Carnival. It is the biggest festival for Hindus and is spread over a fortnight. The grand finale of the festival is the artistically-designed and beautifully-lit floats taken out in the state capital Panaji and other places like Ponda, Vasco, Madgaon and Mapusa. Shigmotsav is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of phalguna, the last month of the Hindu calendar. Festivities start with prayers to the village gods and goddesses. The last five days of the fortnight is when the parades are held. Men in colorful dresses carrying flags and banners parade through the streets beating drums. Later the parade assembles at the village temples where the dances are held. Festivities reach their apogee on the fifth day when gulal is used to colour everyone.
From the Elephant Festival in Jaipur to the Emperor’s Parade at Beawar, Rajasthan boasts of some unique ways to celebrate the festival of colours.
The Elephant Festival should not to be missed if you are in Jaipur during Holi. Brightly decorated elephants adorned with scarves, embroidered head-plates, velvet parasols, ear danglers, gold embroidered rugs and large anklets parade through the streets.
Badshah ki Sawari at Beawar, about 185 km south west of Jaipur, re-enacts a medieval practice instituted by the Great Mughal Akbar. Impressed with his minister and one of the nine gems of his court, Raja Todarmal, Akbar made him the Emperor for a day. On the day of Holi, Raja Todarmal went around in a procession distributing money and wealth on Holi. At Beawar, the Emperor and the vizier move around throwing colours.
Koda Maar Holi: It’s Rajasthan’s answer to the Lathmar Holi of Barsana. Men who throw colour or water are whipped by their victims. While men enjoy the punishment, the women too seem to love inflicting it.