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Types of Holi - The Festival of Colors

Braj Holi

 

The Braj ki holi is a colorful battle of the sexes, between the men of Nandgaon and women of Barsana.

 

Nandgaon is a town where Lord Krishna grew and Barsana is a place where Radha grew up. Women greet men with wooden sticks in hand while men wear shields and caps to protect themselves. The ones captured are forced to dress in female in female attire and made to dance.

 

This holi is a played with much funfare and fervor.

 



Dulandi Holi
 

Holi recieves this name in the state of Haryana. Here, bhabhi - the brothers wife gets an upper hand on the day of holi. And, devar's - husband's younger brothers need to watchout.

 

The bhabhi's on this day get a social sanction on Holi to beat their devars and make them pay the price of all the pranks they played on them for the entire year. Bhabhi's roll up their saris in the form of a rope in a mock rage, and give a good run to their devars.

In the evening, devars are supposed to bring sweets for their dear bhabhi.

 

Besides, there is also a tradition of breaking the pot of buttermilk hung high in the street by forming a human pyramid.

 

Rangpanchami

 

People of Maharashtra commonly know this festival of colours by the name of Rangpanchami as the play of colours is reserved for the fifth day here. Locals of Maharashtra also know Holi as Shimga or Shimgo.
 
 
 

The festival is particularly popular amongst fisher folk. They celebrate it in on a large scale and revel in the festivities by singing, dancing and merry-making. This special dance provide them means to release all their repressed feelings, needs and desires. People also utter sound through their mouths in a peculiar fashion by striking their mouths with the back of their hands.

 

Basant Utsav

 

Holi by the name of Basant Utsav is celebrated with fervour in the state of West Bengal. The tradition of Vasantotsav, meaning Spring Festival was started by poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan, the University he founded.

 

What is appreciated is the grace and diginified manner in which Vasant Utsav is celebrated in West Bengal as compared to boisterous Holi witnessed in most parts of India. Boys and girls joyfully welcome Spring, the season of hope not just with colours but with songs, dance, chanting of hymns in the serene ambiance of Shantiniketan. Anybody who got a chance to witness this elegant way of celebrating Holi in Bengal remembers it with fond memory for the rest of his life.

 

Dol Purnima

 

Holi is also known by the name of Dol Purnima in West Bengal.

 

Early in the morning, on the Dol Purnima day students dress up in saffron-coloured clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments presenting an enchanting view to the onlookers and a memory to cherish for years.

 

The festival is also known as 'Dol Jatra', 'Dol Purnima' or the 'Swing Festival'. The festival is celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs. Throughout the procession men keep spraying coloured water and colour powder, 'abeer' at them.

 
 
 
 
Hola Mohalla
 

Holi gets this joyful name in the state of Punjab. The festival is celebrated in an entirely different manner, it's meaning and significance also shifts a little here.

 

Hola Mohalla is actually an annual fair that is organised in a large scale at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab on the day following the festival of Holi. Practise of holding a fair of this kind was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru. Purpose of the fair was to physically strengthen the Sikh community by holding military exercises and mock battles.

 

The festival is celebrated for three consecutive days, in which members of Sikh community display their physical strength by performing dare-devil acts like bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses, Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging etc. This is followed by music and poetry competition to lighten the charged up atmosphere.

 

A number of durbars are also held where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. This helps strengthening the soul of community. On the last day a long procession, led by Panj Pyaras, starts from Takth Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five Sikh religious seats, and passes through various important gurdwaras like Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji and terminates at the Takth.

 

For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars (voluntary community kitchens) are organized by the local people as a part of sewa (community service). Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar is provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning the utensils. Traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrims who eat while sitting in rows on the ground.

 

Shimgo

 

The funfilled and enthusiastic people of Goa know Holi by the name of Shimgo in their local dialect Konkani. Here too, people play with bright colours to welcome the arrival of spring. This is followed by rich, spicy chicken or mutton curry called shagoti and sweet preparations. Some people also know Holi by the name of Rangpanchami.

 

The most interesting facet of Holi or Shimgmotav in Goa is the huge procession which is carried out in Panjim. Highpoint of this is performances of troupes and cultural drama depicting mythological and religious stories. People from every cast and religion participate in this festival with great enthusiasm.

 

Kaman Pandigai
 

In the state of Tamil Nadu, people worship Kaamadeva for his supreme sacrifice on the occasion of Holi. People know Holi by three different names Kaman Pandigai, Kamavilas and Kama-Dahanam.

 

The Legend

 

People of Tamil Nadu have great faith in the legend of Shiva and Kaamadeva. The story goes that Shiva went into deep meditation after the death of his consort, Sati. Due to Shiva's indifferent attitude gods became tensed and worried. Also, daughter of the mountains, Parvati started mediating to get Shiva as her husband.

 

To get Shiva back to his original self gods seeked the help of Kaamadeva- the god of love. Fully aware of the repurcussions of such an act, Kaamdeva agreed to help gods for the good of the world. He shot his powerful arrow on Shiva when he was in deep meditation. Enraged, Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Kaamadeva to ashes. However, the arrow had the desired effect and Shiva agreed to marry Parvati.

 
 
  
 
 

Rati, Kaamadeva's wife though felt sad about the whole episode. She narrated the pathetic tale to Shiva and requested him to revive Kaamdeva. To which Shiva happily agreed.

 

In Tamil Nadu songs are sung on holi depicting Rati's extreme sorrow and people offer sandalwood to Kaamadeva to easen the pain of burning. People also believe that Kaamdeva was revived on the day of Holi and hence celebrate the festival in his name.

 

Phagu Purnima
 

Phagu Purnima is another name for Holi where Phagu means the sacred red powder and Purnima or Pune is the full moon day, on which the festival ends.

 

At some places like Bihar, Holi is also known as Phagwa as it is celebrated in the later part of the month of Phalgun and the early part of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar. This corresponds to the English months of March-April.

 

The concept of New Year (Samvatsar) varies in the different provinces of our country. In some provinces, the month commences from the 'Krishna-Paksha' on the other hand in some provinces it commences from 'Shukla-Paksha'. For the former, the year ends on 'Purnima' of the month of Phalgun. The new years begins next day - Chaitra, 1st day of the Krishna Paksha. For them on this day the last year has died. For this reason in some provinces like Bihar and UP. Holika dahan is also called 'Samvatsar Dahan'. On this day all the bitterness and evil memories of the last year are burnt in the fire and the New Year is begun with a celebration.
 

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