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Holi, a festival of colours is celebrated with a lot of fervour across India. Synonymous with sweets and the quintessential Bhang, Holi is one festival that is slowly garnering an International following. This festival also marks the end of winter season and the onset of spring and summer.
Though Holi is celebrated across the country, there are a few regions and places where Holi is celebrated with even more enthusiasm. These places can find a mention in the many folklore and mythological stories associated with this festival and are considered as popular destinations to enjoy this colourful festival. Let’s explore these destinations in more detail:
1. Mathura & Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
Mathura and Vrindavan attract hordes of pilgrims and tourists from across the globe during the Holi Festival. These twin places which are closely associated with the life of Lord Krishna come alive with celebrations in the form of colourful musical processions, throwing colours and renowned shows. According to a popular belief, the tradition of colourful festivities was started from the Raas-Leela of Radha and Krishna.
The Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura and the Banke- Bihari temple in Vrindavan are the best places to witness the splendour and spirit of Holi. In fact, the Banke- Bihari temple holds 7-day long Holi celebrations where the temple welcomes one and all to play Holi.
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2. Barsana, Uttar Pradesh
This place in Uttar Pradesh is known for the Lathmaar Holi. Considered as Radha’s abode, Barsana was believed to be the place where Lord Krishna used to tease Radha and her comrades. This teasing did not go well with the womenfolk who chased him away with sticks. The Ladliji Temple in Barsana is the place where the main event takes place. The two-day festival is quite a spectacle where men from Krishna’s hamlet, Nandgaon visit Barsana to tease its women. In response, the women hit and chase them away with sticks, hence the name Lathmar Holi. Men defend themselves with shields. The next day, women from Barsana go to Nandgaon to play Holi with Nandgaon menfolk.
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3. Shantiniketan, West Bengal
Holi is celebrated as Basant Utsav or a festival of Spring in Shantiniketan, West Bengal. The Vishva Bharati University hosts the annual event of Holi that was started by the Nobel recipient, Rabindranath Tagore. The students of the university clad in yellow coloured traditional outfits present folk dances and other cultural shows. This is followed by playing Holi. Considered synonymous to Bengali culture and heritage, this function begins a day before the Holi festival. This show of grandeur is witnessed by large crowds who gather at the venue from far off places.
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4. Anandpur Sahib
Anandpur Sahib located in Punjab hosts a three-day long grand festival called as Hola Mohalla. The Sikhs of the village celebrate this festival a day after Holi. Initiated by Sikh Guru Gobind Singh, this festival is predominantly celebrated to showcase martial skills in simulated environments. In fact, the name ‘Hola’ is the male version of the very feminine spirit of Holi. This festival is marked by mock fights, fairs, display of weaponry. This masculine display is then followed by traditional music like bhajans and kirtans and poetry recitations. Visitors can witness daring stunts such as Gatka (dummy encounters with weapons), daring horse riding, etc. here.
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Goa, though known more for its beaches and nightlife, is also another destination to enjoy the spirit of Holi. Holi is called Shigmostsav in Goa. Celebrations spanning about a fortnight are heralded by offering prayers to village deities. The last five days of the festivities are marked by colourful parades and cultural programs. On the fifth day, gulal is smeared to one and all. Panjim, Vasco and Margao are the main hubs of Holi festivities. The major beaches of Goa also turn colourful with huge crowds gathering at the shores to participate in the festival of colours.
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