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Holi - Indian Festival of Colors

Holi is an important festival which is observed across India, offering a variety of activities held during its celebration. The Holi festive fever in North India, especially in the Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra) is more vivid and jubilant than that in southern part of India, which is quite solemn and more focused on religion and temple rituals. Here are some popular spots for taking part in Holi and each with their own distinct charm.

Delhi celebrates Holi in a modern and contemporary way, and hosts the Holi Cow Festival. This festival highlights folk music accentuated with traditional multi-colored powder throwing, live music performed by Indian musicians, and sheer madness. Non-toxic colors are provided along with street food, drinks, etc. to get everyone in the mood to rejoice.

Jaipur is the place to reckon with for Holi celebrations. One can mingle with the locals and try their hand at turban tying competition, or test their resilience in a tug of war match. An interesting event is where one joins and participates in the Matka (water-filled pot balance on head) race to emerge as a winner by reaching the finish line first without dropping the earthen pot. It's definitely a moment to burst your lungs out by cheering for your team mate.

Holi festival has different connotations in different parts within the country. Barsana (district Mathura) has a very special type of Holi called Lathmaar Holi, wherein men with shields are beaten up by women with sticks, as part of festival celebration. Based upon a legend, Lord Krishna once paid a visit to his paramour Radha, and while he tried to lovingly tease her and her friends, was driven away by the women folk, hence the tradition prevails.

The word "Holi" is derived from "Holika", the evil sister of demon King Hiranyakashipu. The legend says that King Hiranyakashipu who had earned a boon from Lord Brahma was bestowed with special powers that blinded him with pride and vanity. The King grew arrogant thus projecting himself as God. His son, Prahlada disagreed to this and remained devoted to Lord Vishnu. An infuriated Hiranyakashipu then subjected his son Prahlada to an array of severe punishments, before finally summoning his evil sister to trick him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika had powers in her cloak that made her immune to injury from fire. As the fire roared into a giant pyre, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada, thus protecting him. Holika thus turned to ashes and Prahlada survived. Lord Vishnu then appeared in form of Narsimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire, lit by all a night before Holi, is thus a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil.

An important festival of the Hindus, Holi is a festival of joy that gives us the message of friendship and goodwill. During the festival, people forget their old disputes and mix with all freely thus giving a fresh start to relationships. A very noteworthy feature of Holi is the universal acceptance of goodwill amongst all strata of society. There is no disparity observed between the rich and the poor on this day and everyone enjoys this festival together.

The Holi celebrations begin on the last day of Phalgun. People collect sticks and straws lying in streets at a place. At night they gather at that place and set fire to the huge pile of sticks and straws, singing songs to the accompaniment of drums. They are mad with joy and break up when the fire fades out. The main celebration follows the next day wherein people display a happy and joyous mood. They sprinkle colored water on one another and smear their faces with colored powders (Abeer/gulal). Little children spray colored water on the passers-by, thus filling the environment with great joy and exuberance.

Holi is one of the best occasions to experience India during one of its happiest moments. Even the elderly people are seen making merry and going mad with joy. People are in a jolly mood and forget social distinctions. They mix with all freely. In villages people move about with colored water. They sing, dance, and jump about, beating drums and singing loudly in a deafening chorus. As evening prevails, people visit their friends and neighbors for a much sober celebration which is primarily governed by drinks and heavy snacks amidst laughter, songs, stories, gossip and other experiences encountered through the day.

Those who wish to witness and enjoy some traditional Holi should visit Mathura and Vrindavan which are closely associated with Lord Krishna's birth and bringing up. Holi here is considered a major festival and carries great religious significance. Here people celebrate it for a period of 40 days, with each day celebration dedicated to a different temple of Lord Krishna. The entire ambience is truly mesmerizing for these 40 days. Furthermore, in Braj bhoomi , where Krishna grew up, Holi is celebrated for 16 days to commemorate the divine love of Radha for Lord Krishna. There is a symbolic myth behind commemorating Lord Krishna as well. Baby Krishna transitioned into his characteristic dark blue skin color because a demoness named Putana poisoned him with her breast milk.

Those who wish to experience the crazy atmosphere of Holi, the local streets offer the best sight and festive feel. For those opting for a more subtle way, there are hotels or private clubs where Holi parties are specially arranged for guests. Single travelers should avoid going out into streets on their own as the ambience is a little high on spirits, which might not be appreciated by all. In recent times, this festival has also gained acceptance among non-Hindus as a spring festival of love and colors. However, one should not rush into this hilarious festival of colors which is also famous for its craziness; it is advised that some homework be done beforehand which would definitely prove to be helpful. Known as the Festival of Colors, Holi is celebrated to mark the beginning of spring.

On 13 th March 2017 Holi will again be an occasion to shower unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and, of course lots of bright colors dipped in oodles of love and affection.

Truly a great festival, Holi allows you to feel the thrill in the air and a palate of colors to immerse yourself in….!! Bura na mano Holi Hai……….!!!!! This festival indeed catapults one's naughtiness to a more sublime level.