Holi, a Hindu festival has been celebrated in India since thousands of years and it’s alos known as the Festival of Colours. Now it is also celebrated by various communities of South Asia including non-Hindu communities. Holi will be celebrated on Purnima according to Bikram Sambat Hindu Calendar in month of Falgun, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. It is two day festival and celebrating with Holika Dahan(Chhoti Holi) preceding the festival on the first day night.
To make your trip planning easy, we have given below chronological order of festivities as year 2016. You can choose to attend a few or simply plonk yourself in the town and experience the most colorful week of your life. The festival date, which is determined by the Hindu calendar, varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar.
|Important Occasions||Date(date may change every day)
|Lathmaar Holi at Barsana||14th March 2016||Thursday|
|Lathmaar Holi at Nandgaon||15th March 2016||Friday|
|Holi in Mathura||16th March 2016||Saturday|
|Phool Ki Holi at Banke Bihari Temple in Vrindavan||17th March 2016||Sunday|
|Holi celebration in Gokul||18th March 2016||Monday|
|Dwarkadish Temple in Mathura||19th March 2016||Tuesday|
|Holi celebration at Temples & streets of Vrindavan||20th March 2016||Wednesday|
|Actual Holi celebration||21th March 2016||Thursday|
|Holi celebration at Baldev temple(Dauji)||22th March 2016||Friday|
History of Holi
The word “Holi” originates from “Holika”, the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu. The festival itself is believed to have origins from the Prahladpuri Temple of Multan in the Punjab region. The original temple of Prahladpuri is said to have been built by Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu’s son. Prahlada devoted to Lord Vishnu, this infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He punished Prahlada, none of which affected the Prahlada. Finally, Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. Cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada who survived while Holika burned. Hiranyakashipu, unable to control his anger, smashed a pillar with his mace. There was Lord Vishnu appeared as Lord Narasimha with tumultuous sound and killed Hiranyakashipu. The next day, when the fire had cooled down, people applied ash to their foreheads. In future, coloured powder came to be used to celebrate Holi.
The best place to celebrate Holi is Mathura India. If you are planning to celebrate the Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan, and looking for resources on how to go? This post can be helpful to anyone planning a trip there. This post should work both for Indian as well as international tourists, however, you are still in doubt after the post, feel free to post a question in the comments below.
Lathmar Holi at Barsana and Nandgaon
The first in this is a rather peculiar style of Holi celebrations where women chase men and beat them up with Lathis (sticks), and it’s called Lathmar Holi. There are two towns which celebrate this festival with zest and these are Barsana and Nandgaon.
|In the Braj region of North India, women have the option to playfully hit men who save themselves with shields; for the day, men are culturally expected to accept whatever women dish out to them. This ritual is called Lath Mar Holi|
Phoolon wali Holi, Vrindavan
3rd day On the Ekadashi before Holi, the Banke Bihari temple at Vridnavan celebtrates a unique Holi which is not celebrated with conventional dry or wet colors, but with flowers, and hence the name Phoolon wali holi (Flowers’ Holi). The event is not as popular as the other events, but is quickly getting it’s due.
|Phoolon wali Holi|
The gates of the temple open around 4pm and the Flower’s Holi starts right after that. However, unlike other Holi festivities this is a short affair of just about 15-20 minutes during which flowers are thrown at the devotees by the temple priests. If you are not on time, it’s very easy to miss it. In case you planning to capture it with your camera, reach early and be at the gate just when it opens.
Widow’s Holi, Vrindavan
21st March Widows in India have always led a difficult life. They were often banished form their homes and were forced to live in ashrams in Varanasi and Vrindavan. They wore white clothes and never played with colours. A few years back the widows of Pagal Baba Widow Ashram, Vrindavan decided to break this convention and play with colors.
|Women playing Holi|
Though it started only two years back, it’s already a must-do event during Holi celebrations. If you reach early and have time, do make a visit and meet them. I am not sure, but if possible, do play with them as well…always good to spread love on festivals
Holi at Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan
|Holi at Banke Bihari Temple, Vrindavan|
Unlike Lathmar Holi, this event has mainly males participating. There are some women, but the crowd does get rowdy and I guess that’s the reason most local women avoid it. There is festival inside as well as outside the temple premises and its impossible to escape the colors
Holi procession in Mathura
21rd March After the Holi festivities in Vrindavan get over around 2pm, head out to Mathura to participate in the colourful Holi porcession. The procession starts at Vishram Ghat and get over a little after the Holi Gate. Its best to catch it in the street connecting the two landmarks.
|Kids throwing colors from the vehicle|
Holi festivities in Mathura
19th March On the big Holi day, the biggest festival takes place at the historical Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura. However, I would recommend starting the day much earlier at 7am. Head out to Vishram ghat and catch the process of making Bhang by the priests. If possible, maybe take a glass yourself as well (not more).
Huranga at Dauji Temple
25th March On the day after Holi, Dauji Temple, located about 30 km outside Mathura, comes alive with men getting not just beaten up but also stripped by the women
|Huranga at Dauji Temple in full swing!|
If you are in Mathura, take a cab or an auto-rickshaw to the village. You can also come from Delhi in a cab and leave the same afternoon. Dates: 22th March
More Practical Information
What to eat? I think the entire North India has great food, especially when it comes to street food and sweets, and Mathura certainly does not disappoint. I loved eating the food there every single day, infant though I was there to capture Holi, food also became a highlight of the trip. So go crazy on things like pain poori, aalo tikki, kachori, jelabis, imartis, lal pedas, gulab jamuns, lassi and more! If you think your stomach won’t be able to handle the Indian food, you can have it all from Brijwasi which is right next to the Holi gate. Otherwise, the most popular chaat place is called ‘Shreeji Chat’. For meals, do try out the Girdhar Murari Dharmashala. The place serves excellent Gujarati food, though you need to make a payment and reserve your meal in advance. If you come late, there won’t be any food for you – so do keep tab on time. I must also add that bhaang (form of cannabis) is legal in the city and served in the form of thandai – cold flavoured milk. I strongly recommend trying it out – we had multiple glasses of bhang everyday and loved it Where to stay? Mathura does’t have many amazing places to stay, but decent ones do exist. When picking a hotel, make sure you pick one which is close to the city centre so that you can easily walk around all the time without the need for transportation. It’s lovely near the river and if you can find a place somewhere near Vishram Ghat, it would be quite nice every evening. One of the most recommended places to stay is Hotel Brijwasi Royal. You can read more about them here. This hotel is a little more expensive than most and it’s quite possible to find much cheaper options as well here.