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9 Best Places to Celebrate the 2019 Holi in India

The most anticipated festival of all times that goes from bizarre traditions, mouth-watering mathris and ghujias to DJs and Bhaang with a splash of colours, sparks, music, and dance.
Take-A-Breath. Well, that's Holi for you!
Holi in India is the time of the year that raises a toast to the country's diversity. Where people regardless of caste, creed, gender, age and what not, come together in harmony to celebrate the festival of colours. Why? "Holi hai Bhai!"

Holi 2019 Dates

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.

Holi - History, Mythologies, Legends & Beyond

holi in india, holi festival india
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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!

Although the festival has a varying legend all over the country, the significance of Holi is in the victory of good over evil. It marks the end of winter and the onset of spring.
Here's a glossary of places that kick Holi in a frenzy:

1. Lathmar Holi, Barsana, Uttar Pradesh

How about some feminist festivity?

Lath mar holi Barsana, Holi in India
Lath Mar Holi
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It might sound bizarre, but hey, the truth is always stranger than fiction. In the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, Holi is not only celebrated with colours but also Lathis. Lath Mar Holi is where men are beaten up with sticks by women as per their traditions. (now let's take a moment to sink into the reality).
In 2019 it will be celebrated on March 16 following which the celebrations continue in the Nandgaon village on March 17. We EAT sweets, well, people of Barsana don't just stop there. Laddoos are thrown instead of colour by singing spiritual songs related to Radha and Krishna.

2. Mathura and Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Those butter hands are purely intentional!

 
holi in india, holi in mathura
Holi in Mathura
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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

3. Basanta Utsav, Shantiniketan, West Bengal 

In the memory of Gurudev Rabindranath

Basanta Utsav Shantinketan, Holi in india
Bansanta Utsav
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Popularly known as the Basanta Utsav or the Spring Festival, Holi in Shantiniketan is a cultural festival. Inspired by the colours of Holi in India, Tagore started it as a cultural event where students of Shantiniketan dress up in saffron clothes to sing and dance to Tagore's songs. It is followed by throwing of colours. In some parts of West Bengal, the Dol Jatra is celebrated where idols of Radha and Krishna are taken in procession through the streets. The Basanta Utsav is a significant part of the Bengali tradition and culture.
Holi here is a typical music fest; without ear-numbing bass speakers and loud noise, the festival is incomplete. The festivities begin on March 20.

4. Khadi Holi, Kumaon, Uttrakhand 

Let's drop the beats

Kumaoni Holi, Holi in India
Baithaki Holi in Kumaon
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Kumaoni or Khadi Holi of Uttrakhand is a serious musical affair. This holi festival in India is celebrated by the locals who wear traditional clothes Chudidaar, Nokdaar Topi and Kurta Pyjama and dance in groups singing Khari songs. The music is played by the traditional Dhol and Hurka. Later, the crowd moves in procession greeting people in the surroundings.
The celebrations last for two months. Kumaoni Holi takes different forms as Khari Holi, Mahila Holi and Baithki Holi, where the songs are sung in different ragas which begins from the temple premises. The songs are sung in a sequence depending on the time of the day. Another interesting fact about the Kumaoni Holi are the colours they use. It is made from natural sources such as flower extracts, ash and water.

5. Hola Mohalla, Anandpur Sahib, Punjab

Colour colour on the wall, who's the strongest of them all?

Hola Mohalla Punjabi, Holi Festival India
Martial arts performance during Hola Mohalla
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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.

6. Raasaganga Holi Utsav, Yaoshang, Manipur

Dancing shoes are all you need

holi in india, yaoshang festival manipur

Singing and dancing during Raasaganga Holi Utsav
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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.

8. Udaipur and Jaipur, Rajasthan 

Royalty at its best

holi in india, holi in rajasthan
Decorated Elephants during Holi in Udaipur
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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

8. Hampi, South India

Let's spread some love!

Holi in Hampi, Holi in India

Holi in Hampi
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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.

9. Holi Moo Festival, Delhi and Mumbai 

Moozic, Madness and Party

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Holi Moo Festival
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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. 

Although the list contains only the peculiar ways Holi in India is celebrated, the festivity is equally enjoyed in other regions of the nation.

Precautions During Holi in India

Here are a few things that you might not want to miss. Since Holi is a very carefree festival, there are inevitable uncertainties.
  • Beware of the colours that might just act clingy even after profusely washing them off with soap. Rub hair oil or coconut oil over your body before stepping out to play with the colours.
  • Wear old clothes if you can't afford a new set.
  • Keep your mouth shut and take care of your eyes as the colours might be toxic and might harm your skin. Hence it's advised not to play Holi for too long.
  • Take care of yourself because no one else will. Women must be careful with men who've consumed an excessive amount of Bhaang. (and extra cautious with those who've not)
  • In North India, people generally end up using eggs and tomatoes along with the usual water balloons, so one needs to be wary.
There's no greater joy than witnessing Holi in India with your own eyes. Grab your stuff and plunge into the festival of colours.

This post was published by Alma Rosina