It’s that time of the year again, when it’s perfectly okay to douse people in colour and water and get away with a ‘Bura na maano Holi hai’. Holi is one of the most iconic and colourful Indian festivals, such that it is celebrated in more than just India!
Check out the weird and wacky ways the world celebrates Holi!
1. It’s all about the Bhang!
The glorious and edible preparation of cannabis, or Bhang is usually used in food and drinks. Known to bring about ‘spiritual ecstasy’ bhang is consumed during many an Indian festival, most popularly Shiv Ratri and Holi. Usually consumed before the festivities begun, it is a highly popular tradition that is most looked forward to. Holi without Bhang is like a fish without fins. Yup.
2. Manipur parties for a week!
Holi up north is quite an elaborate affair as it is celebrated for an entire week. The locals had been celebrating the festival of Yasong for a long time but only in the 18th century were they introduced to Holi and since then have never looked back. The one week celebration is a merry amalgamation of both the festivals that includes elaborate ethnic dance performances, street processions and of course, abundance of colour!
3. Human pyramids and Holi kings!
Holi is a very major deal in Gujarat. Elaborate events are held to celebrate the festival of colours. Every year, a pot of buttermilk is hung up high over the streets. The local boys form human pyramids to reach the little pot, as their aim is to break it while of course girls try distracting and stopping them by throwing coloured water and powder as they struggle to reach the pot. This is all a commemoration of the wily acts of Lord Krishna, when he was a kid. The boy who manages to break the pot after all this is ceremoniously crowned the Holi king! After this, everyone begins the festivities by drenching each other in colour and water!
4. When women beat men with sticks for teasing them
Now if this is a tradition with a social message or people just messing around, we are not sure. Somehow, this passes off as a fun idea in some parts. In Barsana, UP, men gather around and try and rile the women up by singing provocative songs. After this, the women proceed to beat the men up with lathis, which is where its gets its local name ‘Laathmaar Holi’ from. As the women beat them up, the men attempt to protect themselves with shields. Some of the women even try and drag the men to their house and dress them up as women.
5. Holi celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago Islands.
Who would have thought the Indian festival would have made its way to the exotic Caribbean islands? The islands sure know how to celebrate as they host one of the biggest Carnival festivals in the world, and leave no stone unturned to celebrate Holi in all its glory. Known as Phagwa here, the festival is celebrated with two days of song, music and lots of colour. Singing and dancing competitions are major parts of the festivities.
6. Shimgotva in Goa
Now India’s favourite holiday destination sure knows how to up the ante on everything, and with Holi it is no different. Though it is known as Shimgo in Goa, it is a merry fortnight celebration that includes people of all walks of life coming together and dunking each other in colours and water. The festival culminates into a final day of parades with singing and dancing performances all over the place. The parades are littered with elaborately designed colourful floats and a celebratory spirit that can only be found in Goa.
7. Royals welcome the festival with locals in Udaipur
How about bringing in Holi with a royal family? Because you can totally do that in Udaipur, Rajasthan. In the olden times, the Mewar king and his royal family would invite the locals into the city palace. The tradition still continues as Udaipur comes alive every year with anticipation as the royal celebrations begin. The Holi pyre is lit by the current head of the Merwar family, while sweets and fruits are distributed.
8. A different kind of celebration in Vrindavan
Now Holi is a time to let your colourful personalities finally show. And women in Vrindavan, who also happen to be widows have been doing just that. Since the past few years, an NGO in Vrindavan is slowly but surely breaking stereotypes by organizing a Holi event for widows, for whom it is normally frowned upon to have well, fun. Its a beautiful event as the women let go and participate in celebrations where they dance, sing and of course, play with colours all day long.
9. A matter of strength in Punjab
Just like almost everything else in Punjab, Holi is also about a show of physical strength. A day after extensive Holi celebrations, a fair is set up in the city of Anandpur Sahib where men come forward and put up an awesome show of their physical prowess that includes sword fighting, wrestling, casually exercising on *racing horses* and various such daring acts. A tradition set forth decades ago by Guru Gobind Sigh, the Sikhs consider it a great opportunity to be able to participate in such a ‘Holi’ affair.
10. A Tagorean Holi in Calcutta
Tagore was said to be one of the biggest fans of the festival. So much so, that he started his own tradition in Shantiniketan. And to this day, every year, students from the Vishwa Bharati Institute dress up in the most colourful colours and celebrate Holi together. The festivities include an entire day of performances and reading out of some of the best works of the Nobel Laureate. The city of culture blooms into a kaleidoscope of colours and we definitely recommend travelling for this.