Holi is celebrated in March on the day after the full moon. In 2019, it will be observed on March 21, though the celebrations will start from the evening of March 20 with the Holika Dahan. Although in places like West Bengal and Odisha, Holi takes place a day earlier while the festivities in Mathura and Vrindhavan commences a week early.
The story of Holi festival has a glorious past that ages back to the Puranas. So, find your niche, put on your curious pants and read.
A very long time ago, somewhere in the book of Purana, Hiranyakashipu, the demonic king of asuras earned a boon that gave him five magical powers (wait for it). He can neither be killed by a human nor an animal, neither at day or night, neither by Astra or Shastra, neither indoors nor outdoors and finally neither on land, water or air. However, his son Prahlada, a devotee of Vishnu was against his hegemony. Infuriated by his behaviour, King Hiranyakashipu subjected him to punishments but in vain. Finally, Prahlada was tricked by his evil aunt Holika to sit on a pyre with her. As the fire roared, Prahlada got encased in the cloak which was immune to fire while Holika burned down to ashes. Lord Vishnu then appeared in the avatar of Narasimha (half lion half human); at dusk (neither night nor day), placed the king on his lap at the doorstep (neither indoors or outdoor nor on land, water or air) and disemboweled the king with his lion claws (neither with Astra or Shastra) Holi Moly!
How about some feminist festivity?
Those butter hands are purely intentional!
The birthplace of Krishna is sure to have some cranky celebrations. In Vrindavan, the holi festival begin on Vasant Panchami (end of winter) with a traditional puja of worshipping Lord Krishna. Coming to the quirky part, Matki Phod is celebrated, a historical tradition where an earthen pot is filled with butter and hung high by a rope. Group of men form pyramids climbing on each other's shoulders in an attempt to break the pot while women distract men by throwing colours. The celebrations last 16 days with live Raas-leelas of Krishna in various temples.
In the year 2018, the celebrations will begin with throwing flowers on March 17. The day before Holi (March 21) people play with colours following which a procession heads to Mathura that starts from Vishram gate and ends near Holi gate.
Read more on Holi in Vrindavan
In the memory of Gurudev Rabindranath
Let's drop the beats
Colour colour on the wall, who's the strongest of them all?
Hola Mohalla in Punjab is a festival to prove your strength. The warrior Holi festival is put up by the Nihang Sikhs celebrated with great gusto by showcasing martial art skills while shouting their heart out. Although Holi is celebrated without showering colours, during Holi, the peasant woman of the state, enhance their walls and courtyards with paintings known as Chowkpoorana.
The dates of Holi are March 20-24 although the main celebrations are one day after Holi.
Dancing shoes are all you need
The festival of Holi merges with Yaoshang and is celebrated with dance and music. The festivities begin with the burning of hay and twigs which is followed by a folk dance called Thabal Chongba. The drums and rhythmic beats fill the night of full moon (Phalgun) with folk songs and dances.
The celebrations begin six days before the festival. The Raasaganga Holi Utsav is a highlight of this region. People play with Gulal amidst bonfires and bright lamps wearing traditional yellow and white turbans. On the final day, people visit the Krishna temple in a large procession where various cultural activities are held.
Royalty at its best
On the eve of Holi in India, a ritual called Holika Dahan is celebrated where the locals light bonfires to chase the evil spirits. The Mewar family of Udaipur grandly celebrates the festival. The crowd goes on a procession from the royal residence to Manek Chowk of the city palace. The parade is adorned with colourful elephants and horses with the royal band following.
The elephant festival falls on the same day that includes the elephant polo game, stunning elephant dances and an eccentric tug of war between a group of men and women against an elephant. (wait, what?)
Read more on the Jaipur Elephant Festival
Let's spread some love!
Although Holi isn't a major festival of the south, it is celebrated as a symbol of merrymaking. It is popularly observed by the famous legend of Kamadeva and Rati whose touching tale is narrated in the form of Melancholic songs. The festival bears different names in the states of south India. Ukulli in Konkani, Manjal Kuli in Malayalam, Kamudha in Telangana, Kamadhana in Karnataka and Kaman Padigai in Tamil Nadu.
The celebration of Holi begins five days prior to the day of Holi. It is celebrated every alternate year in Karnataka. The Konkani temple of Gosripuram celebrates Holi in the name of Manjal kuli. Although it's not observed with great pomp, Holi in Vijayanagar empire of Hampi, Karnataka, is a notable event. The crowd celebrates with music and drumming amidst the ruins of Hampi and later washes off the colours in the river.
Moozic, Madness and Party
Holi in Delhi is all about being a thug for a day. You needn't hide, people will find you and drench you in colours. pakka! The Holi Moo festival is another exciting affair in Delhi. The festival is all about music, madness and a splash of colours with an overwhelming crowd and a stage full of Indian and International performers. Mumbai, on the other hand, celebrates Holi in the slums of Dharavi. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm from February 24 to March 3.