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Should one travel to India during Holi Festival

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Aayo naval basant sakhi rituraj kahaayo…
(My Friends, a new spring has commenced)
Pushp kali sab phoolan laagi…
(Each tree and plant is blooming with flowers)
Phool hi phool suhaaye…
(Beautiful flowers can be seen everywhere)
Kamin ke tat manjari phoolein…
(By the riversides, many a bud blossoms)
Un beech shyaam suhayein…
(Amidst these the evening appeals)
Maano veni Maadhav aaye…
(Seems Lord Krishna has arrived)

I woke up to this sound accompanied with an odd thumping of Dholki (Musical Instrument) and Thali (Steel Plate). Slowly adjusting to the real world after a much anticipated sleep after the last night’s Holika Dehan (a sacred ritual that takes place a night before the festival of Holi, where bonfires are lighted on cities important crossroads of points).  I could now smell Abeer (Colour Powder) and hear the whistle of the pressure cooker… I guess Eeja (Mother) had started the preparation of Aalu Gutuk (an Indian/Kumaoni dish made by frying the boiled potatoes).  I checked my phone in order to know what the time was, the fast blinking green LED light on the phone signaled it has messages that I should check.  7.30 AM, the phone displayed with a top ticker flashing messages on whatsapp, gmail, facebook and inbox. I pressed on the first message on Whatsapp to read…”Celebrate the victory of good over evil, Happy Holi” and in no less than a minute replied to the message. I just love Holi! For the simple fact that it is COLOURFUL! Amongst other Indian festival, Holi seems to have attracted many international visitors and the reason being its exceptional way of celebration, just like La Tomatino Festival of Spain. I liked the colored faces and clothes of people, they all look hilarious. I mean what are your odds of catching the entire nation soaked in different colours and dancing and celebrating to the heart’s content…definitely a picture to be captured.

Why Should One Travel to India During Holi Festival??
holi-festival
Besides being a driving force behind a colorful picture of India, Holi disseminates the message of unity and the power of truth.Celebrated at the time when the winters had packed its bag (Spring Season) and left for the southern hemisphere, Holi also marks the commencement of spring harvest.  During the festival one has the chance to best experience the spirit of integrity in the country. Spirituality overflows and barriers are broken, when India prepares to celebrate this joyful festival. The lively northern India becomes livelier during this festival and the jovial and heartwarming celebrations at Vrindavan, Mathura, Barsaane and Kumaon (region of Uttarakhand) can pretty much answer the question of whether it is a good time to travel to India during Holi Festival. On the other side, the culturally rich West and East have its unique ways of celebrating. The celebrations in Purulia and Shantiniketan in West Bengal are marked by cultural programmes, whereas the Elephant Festival of Jaipur adds a different flavour to the festival of Holi in India. Indeed there is no better time than Holi to travel to this country and savour the taste of Incredible India.

Taste and See that the Festival is one of its Kinds… Experience the different ways Holi is celebrated in India…

Vrindavan and Mathura… Soak Yourself in the Colours of Lord Krishna
holi-festival
Situated 4 hours drive away from Delhi; Mathura is the birthplace Lord Krishna. Thus an overwhelming response to the festival of Holi is inevitable. Mathura is one of the best places to celebrate Holi in India. If you are flying from abroad make sure you make all the bookings in advance, Holi doesn’t have a fixed date, like the Holi festival 2014 date is 17th March. It is a good idea to reach India or Delhi at least a week before the festival to avoid inconvenience. Mathura offers a fair picture of the importance of this festival. A local theatre on every Holi arranges an act of the scenes of Radha and Krishna mentioned in Hindu sacred texts. Later a mass celebration on the streets and the premises of Krishna Temples can be seen, where people throw colours on each other and toss bucket full of colours as well. The scene is bizarre, something that one must witness!

At a short distance from Mathura, Vrindavan is another must to visit, if you have plans to travel to India during Holi festival…WHICH YOU SHOULD… Reckoned to be a holy place, where Lord Krishna spent his childhood, Vrindavan is an epitome of India’s festival of colour. Enjoy mass celebration on the streets just like Mathura, visit the famed Banke Bihari Temple and see how the priests throw color and marigold garlands on the visitors in the premises of the temple. The beautiful temple and the colorful ambiance make for some great pictures that you take along with your beautiful memories.

Barsaane…
holi-festival
A small town near Mathura, Barsaane attracts a large crowd during Holi. Known for its Lath Mar Holi, where women beat men with sticks to keep the old tradition, legend has it that Lord Krishna playfully teased his beloved Radha and her friends and the women chased him away with the sticks in their hands. Thus on each Holi, women beat up men from neighbouring village of Nandgaon. The beating up is accompanied with music, where the men sing songs to tease women. A huge mass of people gather in Barsaane on Holi to witness this bizarre site. Holi in Barsaane is one of the rarest sights that one can experience in the world.

If you are still wondering if you should visit India during Holi Festival, here is another reason to convince you…

Jaipur… Enjoy Holi Celebration Followed by the Elephant Festival
elephant-festival-jaipur
The difference about a traveler and travel enthusiast is the perspective of seeing anything. Every traveler knows about Jaipur but each travel enthusiast knows how to find more about Jaipur. If you are a travel aficionado, then visiting Jaipur during Holi will invigorate all your senses. The majestic celebration is marked by Elephant Festival in Jaipur; it is indeed something that is worth witnessing in India. The grand Elephant Festival commences from the eve of Holi, where many elephant beauty contests take place, folk dances are performed and tug-of-war between elephants, locals and foreigners are organized. Late in the evening watch fascinating fireworks lighting up the sky.  Depicting a completely different picture of celebration of Holi festival in India, Jaipur is a destination that can be chosen for an ideal festive holiday in India.

[You may also like to read: Pushkar Camel Fair 2014]

If tradition is what fascinates you in India, here is another place to see a different aspect of Holi Festival in India…

Shantiniketan and Purulia… Witness the Cultural Side of Holi Festival

I guess festivity in Bengal has altogether a different meaning. This Cultural Capital of India put up a great show when it comes to Holi celebration. Shantiniketan and Purulia, the two aces of West Bengal are worth visiting during the Holi Festival. The Vasantotsav celebrated at Shantiniketan is one sight one must witness in their lifetime. Initiated by veteran writer Rabindranath Tagore, Vasantotsav is a way of welcoming the spring season. A cultural show is organized on a large scale here followed by the usual colour throwing. The celebration in Purulia district on the other hand is marked by folk dance and music performances. You cannot just ignore the hard work, time and money spent by the villagers to put on this beautiful event… it will certainly melt your heart.

Adding to your Holi festival Tour, here is a glimpse of another different aspect yet similar spirit of Holi…

Kumaon…  Listen to the Sweet Melodies and Greet Sweeter People 

It was 8.15 AM, I dressed myself in the pre decided pair of clothes to play Holi, left the house and head out to first greet the neighbours with the colour palatte in my hand…Jiya Re, Bachi Re (May you have long life, may you stay protected)… The neighbourhood Thul Aama (aged woman) kept her hand on my head and blessed me and offered me Gujhiya (sweet dumplings) and Aaloo Gutuk (Fried Potatoes) and Bhaang ki Chutney, when I went to wish her on Holi…A heartwarming welcome by Kumaon…

Kumaon, a region of Uttarakhand and my sweet homeland is blessed with rich culture and impeccable natural beauty. Dubbed as Dev Bhoomi, Kumaon celebrates each festival with equal zeal and enthusiasm. Holi is special to this region as the celebration begins from the month of Paush or winters here. The culturally rich Kumaon soaks itself in to the ambiance of colour and sings to its heart’s content. The women in groups sit and sing songs of Holi, whereas, men wear traditional attire sing and dance, a special group called Chholiya Dancers also perform on streets. If you are someone, who take keen interest in music, Kumaon region of Uttarakhand is amongst the best places to visit in India during Holi.

…After getting drenched in colours to the point that I could not recognize myself, I actually realized, celebrations have one specific motto, which is to break barriers and bring people closer. It binds people in a common thread of love, happiness and equality. Besides celebrating the triumph of good over evil, Holi celebration is marked by the demonstration of unity in diversity in the country. No matter in which form and type the celebration takes place, the spirit undeniably remains the same everywhere. It was good to be home on Holi…most of all it was good to be in the country where such festivals are celebrated… I could not find any better time than Holi to ask people to travel to India, when the entire nation is soaked in the colour of brotherhood.

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About

From the Lake District, Nainital, Nidhi Singh is a well traveled writer whose love for nature can be seen in her writings. She loves to trek and enjoy nature and portrait photography. Nidhi has covered most of the valleys along the foaming streams of Jammu & Kashmir and aspire to cover all major trekking routes of Ladakh and Uttarakhand. She also takes keen interest in different cultures and traditions of the world and enjoys collecting mementos. With her flair for writing and personal travelling experiences, she offers vividly descriptive write ups.


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