Holi traditions differ from city to city in this land of multitude cultures. Nowhere have Holi traditions been kept alive as in Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon and Barsana. These are the places where Holi traditions have been handed down from generation to generation. Here Holi is not only played with Holi colours but with gaiety not seen elsewhere.
The most popular Holi tradition and an interesting one too is Lathmaar Holi in Barsana. Here the women of Barsana give their husbands a tough time when they come to play Holi. Women, over power the men, hold them captive, beat them up and dress them up in female attire. If you are in Haryana, you get the liberty to beat your dewars (brothers-in-law) and take a sweet revenge.
Holi tradition is followed in a cultural manner in Shantiniketan in West Bengal. Vishwa Bharti University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore celebrates Holi with songs, dance and flowers. It is known as the Basant Utsav or Spring Festival.
Hola Mohalla is another Holi tradition followed by the Sikh community. It is usually the day following Holi where people gather at Anandpur Sahib to display physical strength. Holi traditions are not only common in the North India but in Manipur, in the north-east where people celebrate with a dance called the ‘Thabal Chongba’.
The spirit of Holi lies in its colors. Holi colors as we all know is an integral part of the celebration. No holi celebration is complete without Holi colors. The Holi colors signify energy, passion, friendship and love. Metaphorically, Holi colours signify changing of the earth’s dull and drab winter with colorful and vivacious spring season. Weeks before Holi, the markets are flooded with Holi colors – red, pink, yellow, golden, green, purple, blue and so on. In ancient times, Holi colors were made of flowers from Tesu tree. The flowers were first dried and then grounded into a fine mixture and added sufficient water to give a saffron color.
Markets are filled with chemical colors but these days many people refrain from using these harmful chemicals in urban cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, use of natural colors has increased. Natural Holi colors are not only safe but easy to make as well. You can even make them at home using simple home ingredients like henna powder for green color, hibiscus for red color and turmeric powder for yellow color. Play a safe and happy festival of colors.