Bura na Mano, Holi Hai
The craziest celebration of all has to be the Indian festival of Holi – Bright, bold and boisterous. India will be drenched in different colors. बुरा ना मानों, होली है “Bura na Maano, Holi Hai” (Don’t mind, It’s Holi) is one phrase which is truly accepted by all the Indians and even by the travellers from abroad to enjoy the spirit of togetherness.
The best part of this festival is that the entire community celebrates it together. Visitors are equally welcome and treated the same way as their friends and family. There exists a sense of comfort level with strangers and all it takes for one to enjoy this festival of colours is to understand the essence of Holi and appreciate the bonhomie and jubilant manner in which it is celebrated.
All over India, Holi is celebrated during the Phalgun month (which roughly corresponds to March) of Hindu calendar. Holi has its origins in a tale from Hindu mythology, in which the demon king Hiranyakashipu gets his comeuppance. According to legend, Hiranyakashipu made a deal with Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, to become immortal as thanks for being a devoted servant. As you might expect, immortality went to Hiranyakashipu’s head and he started causing a lot of trouble, telling everyone which gods they should worship and whatnot. His son, Prahlada, was not amused and opposed his father, which only annoyed Hiranyakashipu further. After failing to kill his son in a number of horrible ways, Hiranyakashipu set Prahlada on a pyre with his sister Holika, a demon who was supposedly immune to fire. Prahlada prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe, and once the fire was lit, he survived while his sister burned. (The bonfires set the night before the big paint-throwing parties are symbolic of Prahlada’s triumph over evil.)
You will be curious to know that finally, from where this paint comes in. So traditionally, in Hindu Dharma, devotees of Krishna will rub red dye on their temple’s Krishna icons and then apply it to their family and friends. The red is symbolic of Krishna’s significance as the god of passion. Over time, the ritual has expanded into the crazy mess we see today.
Delicacies on Holi
How can anyone imagine a Holi bash without some sugar syrup dripping Gujiyas.
Native to Rajasthan, gujiyas are sweet dumplings made of maida or flour and filled with a delightful khoya and dry fruits mixture. Deep fried in ghee and dipped in a sugary syrup. Gujiyas can also be baked, if you are calorie conscious. Just brush them with some oil before putting them in the oven.
Phirnis and Holi go hand in hand. The smell of the kasoras dipped in water. Ah! Bliss.
Bhaang is a popular intoxicating drink prepared during the festival of Holi. Originally made with cannabis leaves but this recipe makes use of whole spices, poppy seeds, water melon seeds and rose petals. The varients with Bhaand are Bhaang ke Pakore, Bhanng ki Chutney, Thandai and Thandai icecream.
Holi is one festival where everyone is hungry after every few minutes. So stack up the plates with Shakkar pare and Namak paare and let the guests munch!
Best places to celebrate Holi in India
Holi in Goa
If like many you’ve come to India to escape the maddening crowds and lie sprawled on a desert island style beach for your trip then fear not, you can still be a part of the Holi celebrations from your sun lounger. The festival is known as Shigmo here and is celebrated with bands, parades and nigh time musical fare.
Holi in Delhi
Being the capital city Delhi spares no expense when it comes to its national festival. On the eve of Holi Holika are lit in important parts of the city, huge bonfires that can be seen from miles away. The parties don’t stop here, with festivals and parades and of course the obligatory water and coloured chalk throwing taking place throughout the day of Holi.
Holi in Utter Pradesh
The northern states take Holi very seriously, especially Mathura in Utter Pradesh because this is said to be where Lord Krishna grew up. The celebrations of paint splattering can last up to 16 days here, so make sure you take plenty of spare clothes! If you’re looking for origins then Gujarat is the place to see where it all began, expect games and shows all day and night here.
Holi in Rajathstan
The Bhil tribes of Rajastan in North West India tend to take a traditional style of celebration of the Holi festival. The night before a large bonfire is lit and prayers said to the goddess of Holi. Youngsters in these tribes are allowed to form companionships which may lead to marriage, so it’s a popular time for all. Pushkar is another place in Rajasthan where Holi is celebrated in a style.
Holi is a great time to visit India, the country is at its most vibrant and exciting, people are amorous and your clothes get a new lease of life with the abundance of colour thrown about. There are many places to experience different ways of celebrating the festival, and many traditions, so choose wisely depending on your tastes.
Stay tuned… next one will take you to the places where Holi is celebrated in different ways.