Coming Wednesday (Mar 23), it will again be that time of the year when you will see the true “colours” of India. Even the breeze blowing through the cities will be heavily laden with aromatic “gulaal” of different shades as we celebrate Holi, the festival of colours.
If there is someone who believes in celebrating Holi in a larger-than-life way, here are the top 10 Indian cities where the festival is celebrated with utmost zeal:
1. Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh
According to legends, Lord Krishna always used to be depressed over the fact that his lady-love Radha was fairer than him.
So one day, his mother Yashoda casually suggested smearing Radha’s face with a darker colour.
Krishna, being a prankster, not only put colour on Radha’s face to change her complexion but also on other “gopis”, thus initiating the festival.
We know Mathura and Vrindavan are the land of Lord Krishna, what better way to celebrate it there in the traditional way.
Every year lakhs of tourists, including international photographers, gather in these two cities to celebrate Holi.
2. Barsana in Uttar Pradesh
Barsana village near Mathura is the place where Radha spent her childhood.
The Lath-Maar Holi, which again has its roots in Radha-Krishna romance, is the main attraction every year during the festival of colour.
A procession is taken out from Radharani Temple, where hundreds of women dressed as Radha beat up men from Nand Gaon with sticks as a part of the tradition.
Want to experience a hep-and-happening Holi? Then Delhi is the place for you.
In contrast to the traditional Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan, the capital celebrates Holi with cocktail parties with rain dances and DJs, taking the festival to the next level of craziness (in a good way).
4. Shantiniketan in West Bengal
It was Nobel laureate and world bard Rabindranath Tagore who started Holi celebration by the name of Basanta Utsav or Dol Utsav (Spring Festival or Holi Festival) at his ashram at Shantiniketan town near Bolpur in Birbhum district of West Bengal.
Even today, students of Visva-Bharati University celebrate Holi in a special way with their colourful live performances.
The place becomes the centre of attraction not only for people across India but draws the attention of tourists from all over the world, especially from the USA, Germany, Italy and France.
5. Jaipur in Rajasthan
The Pink City of Jaipur celebrates in a royal manner with elephants, folk performers and colourful fairs.
Till 2011, the Jaipur Elephant Festival was one of the main attractions where jumbos smeared in different colours put up a great show for spectators across the globe.
However, in 2012, the Animal Welfare Board banned the festival citing “cruelty towards the animals”.
6. Purulia in West Bengal
West Bengal’s red soil district of Purulia celebrates Holi with much fanfare.
A drastic shift from city Holi, Purulia follows its own tradition during the festival; the highlight of the day being jhumur songs and dances.
7. Indore in Madhya Pradesh
Indore celebrates Holi in Bollywood style – all Holi-makers get together at one point in the city and dance till they drop to Hindi film songs. Colours and “thandai” supplement the celebration.
8. Anandpur Sahib in Punjab
Anandpur Sahib city in Rupnagar district (Ropar) in Punjab has a unique way of celebrating Holi.
Called the Warrior Holi, participants dressed aptly put up a show of strength and bravery. Here the swords do the maximum talking instead of colours!
9. Mumbai in Maharashtra
Mumbai just needs an excuse to celebrate and party, and Holi is no different.
However, the highlights of the festival in Mumbai are lavish Holi bashes thrown by several Bollywood celebrities including Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana Azmi-Javed Akhtar, Ekta Kapoor, Akshay Kumar, Salman Khan and Shah Rukh Khan.
Goa is synonymous to partying. And besides traditional Holi celebration, Goa throws open its beaches for numerous parties which one can attend.
Sreya is based in Kolkata. She is a Senior Editor of Big Wire.