Holi

08 March 2023

Cultural

Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

37°C / Clear

Holi or the 'Festival of Colours' is celebrated for multiple reasons. It commemorates the victory of good over evil, heralds the arrival of harvest season and Spring, and as a thanksgiving for a good harvest season. With so many reasons to celebrate, the excitement and enthusiasm of people celebrating this festival know no bounds. The burning of Holika on Holi day is symbolic of burning and destroying evil and restoring peace. Celebrated as per the Hindu Lunar Calendar, this festival has now gained popularity all over the world. Even foreigners love throwing colours at each other and celebrate this festival with great exuberance. It is fun splashing colours, drenching each other in the colour of joy, love, and happiness, and spending some amazing moments with each other. This festival brings families and friends together and is the perfect time to experience the warmth of strong relationships. 

History Of Holi 

In ancient times, this festival was known as Holika. What's interesting to know is that many historians also claim the festival of Holi was celebrated even before Christ. In many religious and ancient texts, this festival is mentioned. These ancient texts are Jaimini's Purvamimamsa Sutras and Kathaka Grhya Sutras. There was even a stone inscription, as old as 300 BC, found at Ramgarh in the province of Vindhya, mentioning the festival as Holikotsav. The roots of Holi can be traced back to medieval India. There are a lot of paintings and murals which have been found in various Indian temples exhibiting Holi in a vivid pictorial manner. For instance, in one of the paintings found in Mewar, Maharana Pratap can be seen bestowing gifts upon his courtiers on the occasion of Holi. In some parts of India, especially in Bengal and Orissa, Holi Purnima is celebrated as the birth anniversary of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. However, the main legend of the Holi festival is King Hiranyakashyap. As per the legend, Hiranyakashyap wanted people to worship only him as their God. However, as fate would have it, his only son, Prahlad, became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, contradicting his beliefs. It left Hiranyakashyap greatly disappointed and furious with his son. He commanded his sister Holika to enter the blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap in his anger. Holika had a boon according to which she could enter fire without setting herself ablaze. But there was a catch in her boon. She was not aware that the boon only worked when she entered the fire alone, which was not the case as Prahalad also went into the fire with her. Thus, it so happened that Prahlad was saved by Lord Vishnu's grace and due to his faith in the Lord, whereas Holika perished in the holy fire.

Holi | Date, Time, & Venue

Holi is one of the major Hindu festivals celebrated in India after Diwali. As per the Lunar Calendar, this festival of colours is celebrated in the month of Falgun on a full moon day. Falgun also means Spring. Thus, it is also referred to as the Spring festival. Holika Dahan is celebrated a day before Holi on the full moon day. On this day, a bonfire is organised, and people pray for good fortune and give thanks for the abundant harvest.

For this reason, homemade pakwan, gujiya, wheat stalks, and cow dung cakes are offered in the fire. People pray to burn the demons and let good prevail over evil on this day. On the next day, dhulandi or the colours are played. It is all about celebrating life and having fun with each other. Holi is celebrated with a lot of fanfare all over the country, but holi at some places is truly special. 

Top 10 Places to Celebrate Holi in India

Holi is celebrated in a unique manner all over the country. The way this festival is celebrated makes it distinctive and stands apart from the regular celebrations of this festival. Let us look at how this colourful festival is celebrated in different parts of the country.

1. Barsana

Holi is celebrated most distinctively in Barsana. This festival follows a very unusual tradition wherein women beat menfolk with sticks while playing colours. Barsana is a small town close to Mathura in UP and is famous for this 'lathmar holi.' According to the legend, it was believed that Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha on the festive occasion and playfully teased her. However, due to Lord Krishna's behavior, the women of Barsana chased him away. And thus, ever since, this way of Holi celebrations came into being. Generally, it is celebrated a week before the main festival.

How To Reach Barsana

  • Nearest Airport. Agra Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station. Mathura Junction

2.  Vrindavan

Another place in India famous for its unique Holi is Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan. The festival celebrates the chilly season paving the way for the Spring season. Accompanied by musicians, a large procession is taken out on Vasant Panchmi by people wearing yellow clothes and dancing on spiritual songs. On the day of Ekadashi, right before Holi, the people of Vrindavan play phoolon ki holi, where the temple priests throw flowers at the devotees. Vrindavan is also famous for the Holi played by widows staying in the city. 

How To Reach Vrindavan

  • Nearest Airport. Agra Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station. Mathura Junction

3. Delhi

Holi in Delhi is marked with people going crazy, throwing colours, and splashing water on each other. The city witnesses the famous music-based festival referred to as Holy Cow. A lot of fun, frolic, and foot-tapping music creates a perfect ambiance to enjoy this festival of colours.

How To Reach Delhi

  • Nearest Airport. Indira Gandhi International Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station. New Delhi Railway Station

4. Shantiniketan

One of the premier educational institutions in the country, Shanti Niketan, celebrates this festival in a very unusual way. This University was set up by Rabindra Nath Tagore, the famous Nobel Laureate and poet. He started the tradition of celebrating Basant Utsav to revive age-old traditions celebrated with enthusiasm in India. This cultural extravaganza is worth witnessing. 

How To Reach Shanti Niketan

  • Nearest Airport. Netaji Subhash Chandra International Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station. Bolpur Railway Station

5. Anandpur Sahib, Chandigarh

Holla Mohala is an annual fair. The origin of this fair dates back to 1701. The Sikh Guru Gobind Singh introduced this peculiar way of celebrating Holi. What makes this festival different is that instead of colors, one can expect to see a spectacle of the raw physical power of traditional Sikh Warriors. Holi in Chandigarh, Punjab, is celebrated by followers of the Sikh religion with unmatched enthusiasm and excitement. They showcase their martial art skills and have loads of fun with colours. Sweets and savouries like gujiyas, puris, malpuas, suji halwa, and more are made to mark this day.

How To Reach Chandigarh

  • Nearest Airport. Chandigarh Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station. Anandpur Sahib Railway Station

6. Jaipur

Jaipur is a religious city, and Govind Dev Ji temple is one of the major shrines in the city. The festival of colours, Holi, is played on behalf of the deity in the temple premises. The Rajasthan Tourism Department organises a special program on this day where people can play this festival of colours with great enthusiasm and excitement. 

How To Reach Jaipur

  • Nearest Airport. Sanganer Airport
  • Nearest Railway Station. Jaipur Railway Station

Major Attractions And Rituals of Holi

As the day of the Holi festival draws nearer, the whole environment comes alive with shouts of joy, colour in the air, and all-pervading excitement. The onset of Holi undoubtedly sees a lot of cheerful commotion. This kind of festival compels you to have fun with your loved ones. Have a look at the major attractions and rituals of this divine festival.

1. Sweets and savouries preparation

Every household gets ready to celebrate this exciting festival. A variety of savouries and sweets like gujiya, etc., is prepared to enjoy Holi. It is served to the guests who visit on this day. In the evening on the day of Holika Dahan, special food is prepared to mark the festival. 

2. Kanji Vada

Kanji Vada is a specially fermented, spicy treat prepared a few days before Holi. When the festival day arrives, this fermented drink is ready for consumption. It comprises ground mustard seeds, chilli powder, salt, and asafoetida. Boiled vadas, carrots, etc., can be added to enhance its taste. Some people add buttermilk to this drink to make it more delectable. It is an excellent appetizer. 

3. Holika Dahan

Days before Holi, people started gathering wood to prepare a bonfire on the city's major crossroads. It is also referred to as Holika. The effigy of Holika is burned amidst the huge pile of wood. This burning of the Holika effigy is symbolic of the victory of good over evil. The devious sister of Hiranyakashipu dies in this fire while her nephew Prahlad comes out of the fire unscathed with Lord Vishnu's blessings. People offer homemade sweets and savouries, cakes made of cow dung, and stalks of wheat and chickpea to the fire. This festival also heralds the advent of the Spring season. 

4. Dhulandi

On Dhulandi, people get ready early to play a riot of colours early in the morning. They wear old clothes that can be discarded after playing colours. These days, however, Bollywood films have made wearing white-coloured clothes trendy. Apply oil to hair and exposed body parts so that colours do not harm the skin and come off after bathing. People have fun throwing colours at each other. Sometimes, the festival gets a little rowdy, and people throw coloured water-filled balloons at each other. In many parts of the country, Bhang and thandai are enjoyed on this day, along with hot snacks and savouries. 

5. Bhai Dooj

Bhai Dooj is celebrated in some parts of the country the day after Dhulandi. Sisters apply tilak on the foreheads of their brothers and wish for long life, happiness, prosperity, and good health of their brothers. Brothers give money or small gifts as a token of their love to their sisters and bless them with happiness and good fortune

Frequently Asked Questions About Holi

Ques 1. Which are the best places to celebrate Holi in India?

Ans 1. The best places to celebrate Holi in India are Vrindavan, Barsana, Anandpur Sahib, Jaipur, etc. 

Ques 2. When is Holi Celebrated?

Ans 2. As per the Lunar Calendar, this festival of colours is celebrated in the month of Falgun on a full moon day. Falgun also means Spring. Thus, it is also referred to as the Spring festival

Ques 3. How is Holi Celebrated?

Ans 3.  Holi is a 2-day festival celebrated with a lot of zest and vigour all over the country. Holika Dahan is celebrated a day before Holi on the full moon day. On this day, a bonfire is organised, and people pray for good fortune and give thanks for the abundant harvest. On the next day, dhulandi or the colours are played. It is all about celebrating life and having fun with each other.

Ques 4. How is Holi celebrated in Barsana?

Ans 4. In Barsana, Uttar Pradesh, the festival of Holi follows a very unusual tradition wherein women beat menfolk with sticks while playing colours. It is a small town close to Mathura in UP and is famous for this 'lathmar holi.' 

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