The Far Horizon Magazine

Where to Celebrate Holi in India

The Party Holi – New Delhi

Delhi loves its party holis and every year you’re spoiled for choice with a tonne of “farm house” parties being organised. If you’re after a fun day out in a safe environment, these are usually a good bet. While Holi out on the streets is free, these farm house parties cost anywhere from 1000 – 3000 INR and they usually include the cost of some alcohol and food.

Holi Moo is one festival that’s definitely a highlight. With an amazing music line-up and lots of fun events, this is a party that is enjoyable, secure and downright colourful (but of course).

The Temple Holi – Vrindavan

 

The Banke-Bihari Temple in Vrindavan is a place where interested visitors can enjoy a religiously inspired week long Holi. In the temple, Lord Krishna is dressed up in all white and is brought out to play Holi with his devotees. In Vrindavan, Holi is played with gulal and water primarily. Bhajans or devotional songs play all through the day and this only adds to the fervour of the festivities. A unique and progressive Holi that takes place here is called the Widow’s Holi. A few years ago widows couldn’t play Holi or wear coloured clothes. This archaic tradition was broken a few years ago with all the widows coming out to play and society accepting this and taking a step forward collectively. This has now become a tradition that’s become a significant part of Vrindavan’s traditions.

The Fiesty Holi – Punjab

This is a Holi where the focus is on martial arts instead of on throwing colors. Hola Mohalla is a fair that’s organised by the Sikh community and it goes all the way back to the 1700s. During the day there’s mock sword fighting, wrestling, turban tying amongst other things whilst in the evening the traditional Holi with colour is played. As an ode to tradition and to the name of the festival, locals shout at the top of their voices. Given that this is Punjab, hearty food is the highlight. Expect to overdose on halwa, paranthas, gujias and more. Hello, food coma!

The Royal Holi –  Jodhpur

On the evening before Holi, the locals in Jodhpur light a bonfire called the Holika Dahan which marks the start of the festival and is believed to ward of evil spirits. The royalty bit comes in the next day at the Umaid Bhawan palace where visitors have the opportunity to celebrate with the royal family. The current owner is Maharaja Gaj Singh II and he organises a truly grand affair.

On the day of Holi, the vast lawn transforms into a colourful fair with a fabulous feast, tents and activities. There are dressed up elephants adding to the grandeur along with massive plates of organic colour and flower petals dotted all across the lawn. If a regal holi is what you’re after, this is where you’ll find it.

The Holi with a Difference – Barsana, Uttar Pradesh

Barsana Holi celebrations start about a week before the actual date of Holi. Barsana is a village near Mathura and it was apparently the village Radha lived and Krishna visited to play Holi. It is most famous for its lathmar Holi in which women playfully beat men with sticks.

The Cultured Holi – Santiniketan, West Bengal

Shantiniketan is a respected university in West Bengal, where the “Basant Utsav” was introduced by none other than  Rabindranath Tagore himself. Inspired by the colourful festival, the university students dress up in the most colourful garb. They also put on a cultural performance for visitors that involves music, dance, singing and a whole lot more.

 

So there you are, a Holi for every type of traveller there is – the party animal, the spiritualist, the cultural afficionado.. you name it. We hope you’ve found a Holi that suits you best! So, what’s it going to be for you this year?

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