5 unique ways of Holi celebration across India

While the festival of colours is celebrated with great zeal and pride across all communities, the diverse colours of the celebration make the festival even more fun.

India is known for its diverse culture and community. Spread across thousands of kilometres you’ll find an endless variety of customs, traditions and rituals that are unheard of anywhere else in the world. 

This spread of diversity has also touched the numerous festivals that are celebrated in the country. Each particular festival is celebrated in unique and oftentimes wholly drastic ways across the many cultures and religious fractions of a community. This is, of course, the heart of festive celebrations in India. 


The festival of Holi is no different. While the festival of colours is celebrated with great zeal and pride across all communities, the various colours of the celebration make the festival even more fun. Wherever you travel, you’re sure to come across an incomprehensible amount of Holi celebratory ceremonies and practices that are uncommon in the rest of the country.


Here are 5 unique ways Holi is celebrated around India: 


  1. Phoolon Ki Holi 


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Phoolon Ki Holi or Holi with flowers is a practice observed commonly in the Mathura- Vrindavan region, which is said to be the historical birthplace of Lord Krishna according to religious lore.

Celebrated days before the festival on the occasion of Ekadashi in the famous Bankey Bihari Temple, Phoolon ki Holi is a tradition that can be traced back to ancient India where the common folk of the Braj region would play Holi with flower petals instead of powdered colours. 

Observed among the devotees of Lord Krishna, Phoolon ki Holi is a short-lived festival where people smear each other with petals of flowers such as marigolds and roses to celebrate the festival. Temple priests smear flowers on the temple visitors and the worshipers indulge themselves in the colour of Lord Krishna’s love and devotion.


    2. Hola Mohalla

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Hola Mohalla or Hola is a three-day Sikh festival celebrated in and around the Anandpur Sahib region of Punjab. It starts on the first day of the lunar month of Chet which usually falls in March and coincides with the Hindu festival of Holi. 

The custom originated in the time of Guru Gobind Singh who held the first Hola Mohalla or Mock fights between Sikh warriors during the early 1700s. 

Unlike Holi, where people playfully smear coloured powder on each other, play with water balloons and water guns, the Guru made Hola Mohalla is an annual occasion for the Sikh warriors to demonstrate their martial arts and fight skills in faux battles. On this three-day grand festival, mock battles, exhibitions of weapons, etc., are organised followed by kirtan, music, and poetry competitions

For people visiting the region during the three-day event, langars or community kitchens are also organised at every street corner to feed them. 


    3. Rang Panchami 

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‘Rang’ means colour and ‘Panchami’ signifies 5 days; thus, as the name suggests, Rang Panchami is celebrated 5 days after the Hindu festival of Colours — Holi. 

Considered an important festival among the Hindu communities of Maharashtra, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, it is an occasion celebrating the purification of the cosmos that occurs due to Holika Dahan— the lighting of a massive bonfire during the Holi Puja at night. 

Hindu followers believe that the festival of Rang Panchami evokes the five basic elements of water, sky, wind, earth, and light which help to restore balance in life. 

The festival is celebrated much like Holi — with water and gulal, but the festivities are amplified as processions with water tanks and high-pressure water cannons paint the entire city as well as thousands of devotees in the colours of spring. 


    4. Lathmar Holi

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Literally translated to Holi with Sticks, Lathmar Holi is a festival celebrated in the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon in Uttar Pradesh and is a recreation of a famous Hindu legend about Lord Krishna. 

As per the legends, Krishna poked fun at Radha and her friends, who in turn responded by getting angry at the onslaught of his advances and drove him out of Barsana with the use of Lathis. 

Keeping in line with this tradition, the women of the Barsana and Nandgaon region drive away the men entering the towns by attacking them with sticks, as the men try to shield themselves with whatever tools are available. 

The Lathmar Holi festivities span over the course of a week, where the participants dance, sing and indulge themselves in devotion to Radha. The consumption of thandai and bhaang is also a common sight during the festival.


    5. Manjul Kuli

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Holi is commonly known as a predominant festival in Northern India. Meanwhile, in the southern region of the country, it is a quiet affair —  celebrated only as Pujas in temples and other religious places. Therefore, seldom you are bound to see a grand or joyous celebration of the festival of Colours in South India. 

Manjul Kuli is a Holi celebration native to Kerala and is celebrated in Gosripuram Thiruma’s Konkani Temples in a span of four days. 

The Kudumbi community celebrates the festival at its various temples. In some of the temples of Kudumbi, an areca nut tree is felled and hauled to the temple shrine, indicating the victory of Goddess Durga over the devils while in other temples, a crocodile is shaped using damp mud, which is believed to symbolize the Goddess who helped the community while migrating to Kerala from Goa. 

On the following days of the festivities, the entire Kudumbi community plays Holi by flinging at each other water mixed with turmeric, followed by dancing and performances of folk music.