Holi in India – History, Mythologies, Legends & Beyond (part 2)

  1. Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Krishna’s birthplace certainly has some cranky celebrations. In Vrindavan, the holi festival begins with a traditional puja of worshipping Lord Krishna in the end of winter, on Vasant Panchami. Coming to the quirky part, Matki Phod, a historical tradition where an earthen pot filled with butter is hung high by a rope, is celebrated. Group of men forming pyramids climb on each other’s shoulders to attempt to break the pot while women distract them by throwing colors. The festival lasts 16 days with live Raas-leelas of Krishna in some temples.

  1. Basanta Utsav, Shantiniketan, West Bengal

Commonly known as the Spring Festival or the Basanta Utsav, Holi in Shantiniketan, West Bengal is a cultural festival. Inspired by Holi’s colors, Tagore started as a cultural event where Shantiniketan students dress up in saffron clothes to sing and dance Tagore’s songs, and then it is followed by throwing colors. In some regions of West Bengal, the Dol Jatra is celebrated with idols of Krishna and Radha being taken in procession through the streets. And the Basanta Utsav is a typical part of the Bengali tradition and culture.

Here, Holi is a typical music festival; without loud noise and ear-numbing bass speakers, the festival is incomplete. Every year, the festivities begin on March 20.

  1. Khadi Holi, Kumaon, Uttrakhand

Khadi Holi or Kumaoni of Uttrakhand is a serious musical affair. This festival is celebrated by the locals wearing traditional clothes Nokdaar Topi, Kurta Pyjama, Chudidaar, singing Khari songs, and dancing in groups. The music is played by the traditional Hurka and Dhol. Later, the crowd moves in procession greeting the surrounding people.

The festival lasts for two months. It takes different forms with Mahila Holi, Baithki Holi, and Khari Holi, where the songs are sung in different ragas beginning from the temple premises. Another interesting fact about the Khadi Holi is the colors they use. They are made from natural sources like flower extracts, ash, or water.