Holi has many names!
I always thought that the festival of Holi was known as just that around the whole of India! Well I was wrong.
Obtained from various sources:
Holi Celebrations in Different States of India (seniority.in)
12 Unique Types of Holi Celebrations in India (2023) - Adotrip
Anay, Siya and I decided to read up on what various parts of the festival were called around India and here is what we found:
1. Barsana Village Uttar Pradesh call it - Lathar Holi
According to myths, Holi began in the Barsana region of India, which includes Vrindavan, Mathura, Nandgaon and Barsana. Interestingly, the festival here is celebrated with not just colors, but with lathis. As per tradition, women chase away the men with lathis. But it’s not a beating session - it’s a crazy one, and the men come prepared too.
2. Kumaon region, Uttarakhand call it - Khadi Holi or Kumaoni Holi
Khadi holi is played in the Kumaon region that includes mainly towns in Uttrakhand. As a part of the celebration, the locals wear traditional clothes, sing khari songs and dance in groups. They move in tolis, and greet the people they pass by.
This festivity is more of a musical affair than of colours as in the other states, and signifies the start of the sowing season for the farming community.
People light the Holika pyre (which is a bonfire with a green Paiya tree branch in the middle) known as ‘Cheer. Holi here is commemorated in three different forms:
Baithaki Holi: The locals sing songs and showcase a musical performance with classical instruments. The songs are based on classical ragas with a touch of spiritualism, fun and melody.
Khadi Holi: Men are donned in traditional garb as they sing and dance on Holi songs with instruments like the ‘Dhol and ‘Hurka.
Mahila Holi: As the name suggests, this celebration is exclusively organized for women (mahila) and is a form of ‘Baithaki Holi.
3. Punjab call it - Hola Mohalla
Hola Mohalla, known as the warrior Holi, is celebrated in Punjab. This festival is observed by Nihang Sikhs. They exhibit martial arts, horse-riding and sing their hearts out on this day, that is usually celebrated a day before Holi.
Lionized by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, Hola Mohalla is a festival that is out of the ordinary and celebrated one day after Holi. Giving tribute to the mettle and valor of the Sikh men, it is celebrated as an event that exhibits martial arts, stunts, and mock fights followed by the usual tradition of playing with colors in the evening. There is a massive arrangement for langar (food) that is served in the Gurudwara all throughout the day. A one-day fun and frolic affair is held in open ground at a ford across the creek Charan Ganga, Hola Mohalla is the biggest festival of Anandpur Sahib, Punjab.
4. West Bengal call it - Basant Utsav and Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima
The Basant Utsav is a way to welcome the spring season. On this day, there is a special celebration at Shantiniketan. Boys and girls dress up in saffron coloured clothes, sing and dance to celebrate this festival. On the other hand, Dol Jatra is a part of the main Holi festivities. On Dol Purnima, idols of Radha and Krishna are taken to the streets in a procession. To add to the fun, men spray water and colours at this procession.
5. Goa call it - Shigmo
Shigmo festival is a massive spring celebration in Goa. It is one of the major festivals of Hindus. Here, traditional folk and street dances are done by farmers. It is organized as a massive carnival with traditional folk songs and street dances, apart from playing with colours. Even tourists at Goa celebrate this festival with a lot of excitement.
As Goa is a coastal state with the primary occupation being fishing, fishermen’s boats are vibrantly decorated with religious and mythological themes.
There are two customs of celebrating Shigmo: ‘Dhakto Shigmo and Vhadlo Shigmo, meaning small Shigmo and big Shigmo, respectively. ‘Dhakto Shigmo is celebrated by the rural population, farmers and labourers, while ‘Vhadlo Shigmo is celebrated by everyone else.
6. Manipur call it - Yaosang
In Manipur, Holi or Yaosang is celebrated for six days.
The festival begins with paying tribute to Pakhangba, the God. After the sun goes down people gather to burn the hut and thereafter the kids in the village visit the neighborhood to collect donations. On the second and third day, local bands perform in the temples whilst girls seek donations. The last two days are when they play with colors and water leaving colorful traces in the hearts of people.
Wrapping up our blog of Different Types of Holi Celebrations In India. The enthralling diversity in India can be seen in the colors of Holi. One festival has so many dimensions and that is what India stands for, Unity in Diversity.
Adotrip gathers all the intriguing information about festivals celebrated in India and puts them together because we believe nothing is far. Happy Holi Folks! Stay Happy and Colorful. It starts on the day of the full moon and combines Hindu and indigenous traditions. The highlight of the festival is the Thabal chongba, a Manipuri folk dance that is performed during. To add to the traditions and maintain uniformity, the Hindus of Manipur play this festival with colours too.
7. Kerala call it - Manjal Kuli or Ukkuli
Down south, Holi isn’t as popular as it is in North India. However, some communities in the southern part of the country celebrate Holi, but with distinct traditions and names. In Kerala, Holi is called Manjal Kuli and is celebrated in the Konkani temple of Gosripuram Thirumala. On the first day people visit the temple whilst on the preceding day they play Holi with water and turmeric, ditching the colors completely. The festival of colors is celebrated by singing traditional folk songs which indeed are graceful and serene. This subtle way of playing Holi is unique in its own way.
8. Bihar call it - Phaguwa or Phalgun Purnima
Bihar and Holi go hand in hand. The festival is known as Phaguwa in the local Bhojpuri dialect. However, in Bihar, it’s important to light the Holika pyre before playing Holi. After that, Holi is played with folk songs, water and powdered colors derived from natural sources. Consumption of Bhang is also a part of the holi celebrations in the state.
Holi in Bihar is celebrated to mark good harvests and fertility of the land besides the significance of the mythological tale of Prahlad winning over Holika. On the eve of Phalgun Purnima, bonfires are lit by putting cow dung cakes, grains from the fresh harvest, and wood of the Holika tree. Holi is marked as the beginning of the new year in Bihar therefore people clean their houses to bring positivity and prosperity to their life. Apart from smearing colors, folks in Bihar also use mud, the air fills with high pitch folk songs sung to the tune of the dholak. Folks indulge in consuming intoxicating bhang to brighten up the mood during this festival. They sing, dance, laugh, and enjoy the true spirit of the festival.
9. Assam call it - Phakuwah, Fakuwa or Dhol Mahotsav
Phagwah is Assam’s name for Holi. It is similar to Bengal’s ‘Dol Jatra’. However, here the festival is celebrated over two days. On the 1st day, clay huts are burnt signifying the legend of Holika dahan. On the 2nd day, the locals celebrate it with colours just like everyone else!
10. Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh call it - Rang Panchami, Shigma or Pancham Holi
Maharashtra celebrates Holi in the most fun way possible. Colour celebrations take place on the 5th day after Holika dahan and is known as Ranga Panchami.
11. Jaipur and Udaipur, Rajasthan call it - Royal Holi
Jaipur: The land that is already famous as Pink city is a delight to watch on the auspicious day of Holi as it is soaked in multiple hues, unrestricted to pink. The royals of the City Palace in Jaipur organize a grand ceremony in their condominium every year. This blazes up the excitement of Holi amongst the local folks and the foreign tourists. Every year, Jaipur is hoarded with huge footfall during this festival as it is the time when people get to smear the royal family with colors. The frolicsome grand celebration of the Holi Festival in Jaipur etches the indelible memories in the hearts of the visitors.
Udaipur: On the eve of Holi, locals light bonfires to mark the occasion and get rid of evil spirits in the holika dahan.This celebration is done at a grand level by Udaipur's Mewar royal family. The fancy procession includes decorated horses and the royal band. Later, the traditional sacred fire is lit and an effigy of Holika is burnt.
12. Uttar Pradesh call it - Lathmar Holi, Ganga Mela or Holi Milan
In the northern part of India, Holi is celebrated with great fervour, especially in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and Delhi. People light bonfires, sing and dance around them, and throw coloured powders on one another. The festival symbolises the victory of good over evil and marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
The tradition is followed ever since the era when Lord Krishna used to visit Barsana with his friends to play Holi with Radha and her friends. Krishna was a prankster, he loved smearing colors and teasing Gopis. Piqued by the ruckus created by these lads, Gopis used to pick bamboo sticks to hit Krishna and his gang. The sole objective was to scare them to run away from their village. Even today men from Nandgaon visit Barsana to play Holi with women, all in good-hearted spirit, albeit.
13. Haryana call it - Dhulandi Holi
Celebrated magnanimously in the state of Haryana, Dhulandi is a celebration of the bond between Bhabhi (sister-in-law) and Devar (brother-in-law). This relationship of playing pranks and annoying each other is literally like the bond between partners in crime. On this special day, Bhabhis get an advantage to drag their Devars in mock rage. This is how they payback for the gags they play. Besides, smearing colors and splashing water is a ritual, the real essence of Holi lies in bringing colors and joy in otherwise mundane life.
14. Vrindavan call it - Phoolon Ki Holi
Celebrated on the Ekadashi in the Holi week, Phoolon ki Holi is played with petals of fresh flowers in Banke Bihari temple, Vrindavan with great fervor by the Krishna disciples. The exquisiteness lies in the ambiance that’s filled with fragrance and flowers, the scenic vista takes you to a different world. Unlike, usual Holi festival which is played with colors and water, Phoolon ki Holi is more about connecting with God of love and joy by showering him with flowers. Not too lengthy, a 15-minute affair is enough to take you in a trance.
15. Maharashtra call it - Rang Panchami
Out of the myriad ways of playing Holi, Rangpanchami celebrated in Maharashtra is yet another exquisite style. Celebrated on the 5th day preceding Phalgun Purnima, the fun seems ceaseless. Lord Krishna with his notorious comrades used to steal butter from the neighborhood and to keep the butter safe from these butter-thieves, women used to hide it in the highest chambers in the houses. Dated from that time, the tradition is followed in Mumbai and many cities of Maharashtra in the name of Krishna Leela. To relive the antics, every year pandals are set to break pots. The pots are hung on the great height and boys in huge numbers form pyramids. Trained boys climb up onto them while women deter them from reaching to the pot by splashing water and colors. The sight of this ceaseless battle brings verve and joy to the clocked-up life in big cities.
16. Tamil Nadu call it - Kaman Pandigai
The significance of Holi in Tamil Nadu differs as it is believed that it was on this auspicious day that their revered Lord Kaamdeva- the God of love was brought back to life by Lord Shiva. Unlike the usual color smearing tradition, here the folks offer sandalwood to Kaamdeva in a belief that it would ease his pain. Songs are sung that depict the grief of Rati, Kaamdev's wife when he was burnt into ashes due to the rage of Lord Shiva. Kaamdev distracted him from deep meditation by hitting him with his arrow, it was however meant for love just as the cupids arrow. It's believed that it was after being hit by the arrow that was released by God of love that Lord Shiva agreed to marry Goddess Parvati.
17. Odisha call it - Dola