4 Places To Celebrate Holi In 2021

Best Places To Celebrate Holi In India

Water balloons being flung in glee, adults who get to act like children for a day, gulal being smeared onto faces, and colored water shooting out of pichkaris (water guns)– all of this and more is what makes the festival of Holi a delightful affair. A traditional harvest festival that the country looks forward to, Holi is celebrated annually in the month of March.

Every year, the bright colors of Holi always brighten up the streets of India. It’s no surprise that the excitement of a festival that practically requires smearing color onto faces in crowds, is always high among the people. Here’s a list of places to celebrate Holi so you can be a part of some of the best Holi celebrations across the nation.

Places You Can Celebrate Holi In India

  1. Shantiniketan, West Bengal
  2. Hampi, Karnataka
  3. Anandpur Sahib, Punjab
  4. Kerala
  5. Barsana, Uttar Pradesh
  6. Vrindavan And Mathura, Uttar Pradesh
  7. Sangla, Himachal Pradesh

Shantiniketan, West Bengal

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A peaceful abode with a rich history, Shantiniketan is located around 150 km away from Kolkata. Shantiniketan is where the Visva Bharati University is located; first founded in 1901 as a small school, today it is a Centre for Culture that teaches arts, humanities, languages, and music.

Also read: 7 Things To Do In West Bengal For A Memorable Holiday

Come March, the students of the university begin preparations for Basanta Utsav or Holi. The festival is more about culture than merriment, and students put on impressive traditional dances and theatrical performances, all clad in shades of bright yellow. The university town is filled with the sound of ektaras, played skillfully by the Baul community. Shantiniketan has plenty of culture to be explored, so even while celebrating Holi here, you’ll have plenty to discover.

Hampi, Karnataka

Holi celebrations are at their finest in North India but are fairly subdued in South India. The one place that breaks this mold with a splash of color is Hampi. The ruins of the once-great Vijayanagara Empire, Hampi is a major tourist attraction for domestic and international travelers. While it isn’t known for its Holi celebrations, they are certainly worth experiencing.

The town normally sees vibrant processions with drummers and dancers in tow. Tourists and locals get together to join in the processions that mostly end at the Tungabhadra River. Hampi is among the relatively less crowded places to celebrate Holi, which is why there are normally foreigners here who wish to take part in the fun. March is also the end of the tourist season since the temperatures begin to soar, so you may have to bear the heat but you’ll have fewer crowds to navigate.

Anandpur Sahib, Punjab

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Want to see Holi celebrated in a unique yet traditional way? Then Anandpur Sahib in Punjab is the place to be. The Sikhs of Anandpur Sahib celebrate Hola Mohalla, coinciding with the festival of Holi. The word ‘Hola’ may sound like another way to say ‘Holi’, but in fact, ‘hola mohalla’ means ‘charge of the army’. The festivities are part of a tradition that goes back over 300 years. Realizing that it was only the skill in martial arts and unrelenting faith that would save them, Guru Gobind Singh commanded the Sikhs to participate in mock battles and military drills while reciting holy scriptures. Thus was born the tradition of Hola Mohalla.

Also read: 9 Things To Do In Punjab For A Memorable Trip

You’ll get to see the Nihangs, who were once the troops who headed the Sikh armies, unmistakable in their bright blue robes and heavy, embellished turbans. They gather together to put on an admirable show of bravery, skill, and discipline as they partake in competitions like sword-fighting, horse-riding, turban-tying, and tent-pegging. Poetry is recited, as are tales of Guru Gobind Singh. Color is thrown up in the air and at other people, and finally, everyone dines at the Langar.

Kerala

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Holi in Kerala is known as Ukuli or Manjal Kuli, and the local communities that celebrate it are the Gaud Saraswat Brahmins, Konkan communities, and the Kudumbis. The festival also has a historical aspect to it, which is something the history lovers will love chasing down. 

Interestingly, the Kudumbis were original inhabitants of Goa who fled to Kerala to escape Portuguese persecution. They brought along their culture, and this seemingly minor point in history has led to Holi being celebrated in Kerala. The Kudumbis partake in the ceremony of Manjal Kuli on the second day of Holi, equivalent to throwing color in the northern states. They spray each other with colored water that contains turmeric, and dance to traditional Kerala music. 

Barsana, Uttar Pradesh

For an unusual yet unique Holi experience, you must be in Barsana. Situated in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, Barsana will give you a truly memorable celebration, the likes of which will be etched in your minds forever.

Lathmar Holi is a tradition in Barsana where the men and women engage in friendly banter. The men smear the faces of the women with colors, following which they are chased and hit by lathis or sticks. No, this tradition wasn’t born out of spite; legend has it that Lord Krishna and his friends from Nandgaon once visited Barsana on Holi and smeared Radha and her friends' faces with colors. Offended by this, the women chased the men out of Barsana with the lathis. The tradition, thus, comes to life every Holi.

Also read: Top Holi Events In Delhi

Vrindavan And Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

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In Vrindavan, the celebration of the Holi festival begins on Vasant Panchami, marking the end of winter, with a traditional puja dedicated to Lord Krishna. If an urban legend associated with Lord Krishna can be kept alive to this day, imagine the extent of celebrations, Mathura, the birthplace of the Lord, witnesses. Mathura and Vrindavan celebrate the festival of colors in a similar manner.

A famous aspect of the festivities is the Matki Phod tradition in Vrindavan, where an earthen pot filled with butter is suspended high by a rope. Men form human pyramids, striving to break the pot while women engage in throwing colors to distract them. The celebrations extend over several, with live Raas-leelas (dramatic reenactments of Krishna's divine plays) and pujas held in various temples. The day before Holi, people engage in color play, and on the day of Holi, a procession proceeds to Mathura, originating from Vishram Ghat and concluding near Holi Gate.

Sangla, Himachal Pradesh

Nestled in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, Sangla presents a picturesque setting for celebrating Holi. Here, residents come together to partake in traditional festivities rooted in their local culture. Holi celebrations here typically span two days, starting with Holika Dahan. Locals light a bonfire symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. The subsequent day constitutes the main Holi celebration, where you’ll see everyone playfully smearing vibrant colors and exchanging sweets and delicacies.

People participate in the traditional dances and groove to the folk music like the Kinnauri Nati. Did you know the colors that you’ll be smeared with are completely natural because they’re made from local flora? This not only enhances the festival's aesthetics but also promotes environmental sustainability by discouraging the use of synthetic colors – not to forget the high prices of the skincare products that you’ll be saved from. Visitors are encouraged to embrace natural colors, aligning with the community's eco-conscious approach to celebrating Holi.

Also read: Top Holi Events In Mumbai

Summing Up

The festival of colors is the perfect and vibrant welcome you need after a gloomy and lazy winter. If you, indeed, are planning to kick that winter laziness out of your body by smearing colors, you might as well think of heading to these places to celebrate Holi in India. 

FAQs

How Is Holi Celebrated In India?

On the first day of Holi, people gather around a bonfire that symbolizes the burning of the demoness Holika, thus signifying the victory of good over evil. The second day of Holi, which is more popular, is when people smear color and water over each other. The festival also heralds the arrival of the spring season.

Is It Safe To Travel On Holi?

Getting around when the Holi festivities are in full swing and visiting crowded places may not be recommended, especially if you’re not intending on playing. Ideally, it’s best to travel in the late afternoon during Holi.

Where Can I Spend Time On Holi?

If you’re looking for places to celebrate Holi apart from those mentioned above, consider the following:

Pushkar, Rajasthan: This is arguably the best place to celebrate Holi, with a whirl of color, water, crowded streets, and bhang!

Ajmer, Rajasthan: The locals here celebrate Gair Holi, which involves men from different villages coming together to dance to the tune of traditional music.

Is Holi Safe In India?

Holi is a relatively safe festival, but it’s always crowded and the people can be a bit unruly at times. If safety is your primary concern, we recommend having private celebrations with your friend circle.

Why Pushkar Holi Is Famous?

Holi in Pushkar is celebrated with great fanfare and everyone partakes in it. Celebrations are wild on the second day when everyone plays with colors, water, and with a lot of bhaang! To add to it, there’s also the Kapda Faad Holi in Pushkar. This particularly wild celebration involves men tearing each other’s shirts and smearing each other with colors!

Is Holi Celebrated Everywhere In India?

Holi is celebrated in most parts of India. Some of the places known to celebrate Holi with all pomp and show are Pushkar, Mathura, Vrindavan, and Ajmer.

Is Holi Celebrated In Hampi?

Yes, Holi is celebrated in the town of Hampi in Karnataka with much pomp and fanfare.

What Is Holi Called In Gujarat?

Holi is known as Dhuleti. During this festival, people play around sprinkling flowers and smearing colors on each other.