Holi celebrations in India | Different states,different traditions

The most colorful festival of this nation is celebrated every year  with great pomp and show. Yet every state of India has its own special tradition to mark the importance of this festival. In many states, Holi is celebrated by burning Holika, the devil who was killed to save Prahlad by Lord Vishnu. Yet there are various facets of Holi. Here is the history and a list of holi celebrations in India in different states:


In Punjab, Hola or Hola Mohalla is celebrated in the form of a grand festival spanning over three days. Various competitions are held, followed by kirtan, feats (Gatka or mock fighting is the most popular one) and display of various exhibits.
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Holi is referred to as ‘Dulandi‘ in Haryana.  Besides applying colors on each other’s face, a popular tradition on Holi requires the ‘Bhabhi’ of the house to beat her devars (husband’s brother). Devars pay a price for all the pranks they played on their bhabhis, by bringing them gifts and sweets. Another tradition is followed, where a pot full of buttermilk is tied with ropes and hung high. It is then broken by a human pyramid and colors get spilled over the gathering. Holi this year would be full of such enthusiasm as well.
Holi in Haryana

Uttar Pradesh

A very popular form of celebration is ‘Lath Mar Holi‘, celebrated mostly in the regions surrounding Mathura. Thousands of people gather and celebrate this festival by beating each other with sticks. According to legend, Lord Krishna visited Radha’s village and teased her friends on this day. The women of Barsana chased him away and thus the tradition has been followed since. Men from Nandgaon visit Barsana, while the women of Barsana chase them away with ‘lathis’.This year would again witness the fun of ‘Lath Maar Holi’ .
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Tamil Nadu

Holi is celebrated here by different names like Kamavilas and Kama-Dahanam. According to legend, Kaamdeva (the God of Love) was burnt to ashes by Lord Shiva when he tried to shoot his arrow of love on him.  Rati, Kamadeva’s wife pleaded him for mercy and Shiva partly restored him to her. Holi is thus celebrated as the festival of love, with songs dedicated for recreating Rati’s story.
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The tradition of Kaamana Habba is followed in this state. Men are supposed to steal cow dung from their neighboring houses . Whereas girls help their mothers in offering Holige ( a special sweet flatbread) to Lord Kaamdeva. In the evening, people burn stolen goods and people dance around them.
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Holi is celebrated in some communities of Kerala with pomp and show. Holi is known here as Manjal Kuli. It is popular among the Kudumbi community, who celebrate this festival by cutting a tree and transporting it to temple shrines. This is done to symbolize the victory of Goddess over demons. On the next day, the community celebrates by applying colors and turmeric on each other.
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 Holi is known as Phagwah in Assam. Rituals continue for 3 – 5 days. The most important place where it is celebrated is Barpeta .
 This Doulutsava is marked with traditional ceremonies by the followers of Lord Krishna. Besides worshipping Lord Krishna, people sing songs and burn clay huts in front of houses.
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West Bengal

The tradition of ‘Basant Utsav’ is celebrated in Bengal. It was introduced by the great poet Rabindranath Tagore. This ritual welcomes the festival of spring. The celebration is marked with activities like singing and dancing. Holi is known as ‘Dol Purnima’ in Bengal. People wear saffron colored clothes and garlands of flowers. They worship Lord Krishna and Radha by swinging them and spraying colored water.
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 Holi in Rajasthan is pretty colorful as well. Royals of this state interact with commoners and ride their horses through streets filled with colors.  A few days before Holi, locals celebrate Braj Mahotsav. It depicts the love story of Lord Krishna and Radha.
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 In Orissa too, Holi is known as ‘Dol Purnima‘. People worship Lord Jagannath and carry his idols in procession throughout the city. Men and women sing and dance in merriment. They spray colored water and powder on each other. A special tent ‘Jhoolan Mandap ‘ is created to rest the idol at night. Followers play games and eat special sweets.
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On the eve of Holi, people light bonfires, a symbol of burning Holika. This tradition is quite prevalent in the north. The eldest member of the family initiates this bonfire and marks the start of the festival. Folk songs and dholaks are a common sight , along with variety of delicacies and intoxicating bhang.
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‘Shigmo’ is celebrated in Goa with full zeal. There are dances, dramas, parades and performances on drumbeats. This is followed by the enactment of mythologies.
The Panaji Shigmotsav Samiti also organizes parades in Panaji. Various temples in Goa make special arrangements for Holi celebrations.
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