Holi is a religious spring festival that is celebrated by Hindus, right after winters and is one of the major festivals of India. It is called the Spring Festival - as it marks the arrival of spring the season of hope and joy and is the most vibrant of all. The main day, Holi is celebrated by people throwing coloured powder and coloured water at each other. People walk down their neighbourhoods to exchange colours and spraying coloured water on one another.
It is believed that, the change in the weather causes viral fever and cold and the playful throwing of natural coloured powders has a medicinal significance. The colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors. For wet colours, traditional flowers of Palash are boiled and soaked in water over night to produced yellow coloured water, which also had medicinal properties.
On the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). After doing holika dalhan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Another popular legend behind Holi is,that the naughty and mischievous Lord Krishna started the trend of playing colours. He applied colour on her beloved Radha to make her like him.
The entire country wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration. Shops, offices remain closed for the day and bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouthwatering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day. A special drink called thandai is prepared (commonly made of almonds, pistachios, rose petals, etc.), sometimes containing bhang (Cannabis indica). On this day, the people get a social sanction to get intoxicated on the bhang and they also strongly believe in the medicinal properties of the hemp plant.
Though Holi is celebrated all over India, nowhere else is it celebrated like it is celebrated in Vrindavan, the birth place of Lord Krishna. The celbrations here last for 10 days, celebrating the arrival of the Spring season. The center of all attractions is the famous Banke-Behari Temple. People here are seen totally immersed, drenched to the skin in coloured water. The Vrindavan town turns into an insane inferno of colour giving the people an opportunity to drop their inhibition and join in the fun.
Also take a trip to the town of Barsana. where women chase away men with sticks, popularly known as Lath-Maar Holi. This is because the men sing provocating songs instigating the women. It is all part of the famous festival, Holi.
Like Vrindavan-Mathura, holi celebration in Rajasthan, Jaipur, is very intense. Whether you particiapte in playing with colours or just watch others play, you are sure to be covered in colour, wet or dry. Holi celebration is held a day after the famous Elephant Festival. Huge family gatherings crlebrate the occasion by throwing colours on each other and share home-made sweets too. It also ushers the New Year in some parts of the country.
It is a goodtime to visit Jaipur and to be a part of this wonderful and festive time!!
The most famous Holi is played in Vrindavan-Mathura regions of the state of Uttar Pradesh., The next Holi will be celebrated in India on 17th March, 2014.