Traditional sweets paired with intoxicating ‘bhang’ and a kaleidoscopic cloud of bountiful colours as far as you can see. Holi is celebrated with a different gusto in every part of India, but the essence is the same – to have a blast!
On Holi, we reconnect with our childhood, when we used to run around without a care holding bats and balls in our hands. But on this day, we run around with water-filled balloons and various colours. Or sometimes, run away from the people getting close to splash buckets of water on us. This is the time when not only kids, but the grown-ups are also at play, a rare sight indeed, but very common across the country. It’s a jubilant day like no other. So why not get soaked wet in multiple hues at places that are best known for keeping up the spirit of Holi.
Barsana – Bring on the womanpower
This small town in the historical land of Braj celebrates Holi in style or in a mock battle of sorts, where womenfolk beat and chase away men with large sticks. Hence the name Lathmar Holi. And it’s not the dandiya-style sticks we are talking about, but large wooden baton capable enough to make one bleed heavily. Therefore, men in the region step outside prepared, fully-padded or carrying metal shields. Legend has it that Krishna used to visit Radha in Barsana (her hometown) and women would chase him away. The town comes alive during Holi as the celebrations go on for a week before the Holi day.
Goa – A different take on Holi
As the rest of India is covered in myriad shades of colours and merriment, Goa, like always, does things a little differently. The Holi celebration in Goa is coupled with the Carnival and called Shigmotsav. The otherwise slow-paced and relaxed Goa shifts gear to become a vibrant party haven around Holi. Flashy parades are held on large scales that go on sporadically over the course of a fortnight. The decor of the state around this time is the best you will find anywhere and the local folk dance performances like Ghode Modni and Fugdi will blow your mind. The grand finale of the festival is perhaps the most artistic and creative spectacle in all of India. It is marked by sparkling floats with extensive lighting twinkling around them and remarkable sound effects that complete the parade alighting the streets, grabbing the attention of the crowds.
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Jaipur – Holi with elephants
In Jaipur, Holi celebrations are kicked off with the symbol of Rajput royalty – elephants. The Pink City of Rajasthan is washed in endless hues of red, blue, green, purple and palash. And the majestic elephants take the entire celebration up a notch. Dressed in silks and ornaments, the animals parade down the streets up to the Jaipur Polo Ground, opposite the Sawai Mansingh Stadium, where all the festivities take place on the eve of Holi. Elephant parades, folk dances, and firework displays are the main highlights of the event.
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Mathura Vrindavan – Where it all began
The land of Krishna, the birthplace of rang leela (Holi as we know it), Mathura-Vrindavan celebrate this festival of colours in the most traditional way, keeping its essence alive, making it more intriguing than elsewhere. People use scented organic colours to play Holi with great vigor. The Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan organises legendary week-long festivities while prepping up to the final day celebration. This is the place to get drenched in coloured water, immersed in the spirit of Holi and just dive into the celebrations.
Pick a destination that strikes your fancy and enjoy Holi to the fullest because this is the day to have a lifetime worth of fun. Once Holi is over, all you are left with is the longing for it to come back next year.