Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Regional name of holi

Popularity of Holi can be gauged from the number of names Holi has in different states. Also of great interest is the story behind each of these names.

As one moves across from one state to another, one can surely discover the myriad shades of human emotions behind the story that goes with each of these names of holi. These stories will make you feel proud of the rich cultural diversity of India. Besides, what is to be appreciated is the underlying strong bond of unity that binds this uniquely culturally diverse country.

Even the Gods that are worshiped on Holi differ in different corners of the country. The way the festival is celebrated also differs but the spirit is same - the one of love and brotherhood. Inspite of their uniqueness in different states, the festival is considered to be the one which enhances the secular fabric of India.

Dulandi Holi


 Holi recieves this name in the state of Haryana. Here, bhabhi - the brothers wife gets an upper hand on the day of holi. And, devar's - husband's younger brothers need to watchout.
The bhabhi's on this day get a social sanction on Holi to beat their devars and make them pay the price of all the pranks they played on them for the entire year. Bhabhi's roll up their saris in the form of a rope in a mock rage, and give a good run to their devars.

In the evening, devars are supposed to bring sweets for their dear bhabhi.

Besides, there is also a tradition of breaking the pot of buttermilk hung high in the street by forming a human pyramid.

Lathmaar Holi


  known as lathmaar Holi. 
off. The stick is in the hands of the
In what is known as the hub of holi in India - Barsana, Holi is Sounds violence?? There is more violece than the name signals women on this day and the men need to work a lot to save themselves from the immensely charged up womenfolk.

The birth place of Lord Krishna's beloved Radha, Barsana celebrates Holi with extreme enthusiasm as Krishna was famous for playing pranks on Radha and gopis. In fact, it was Krishna who started the tradition of colours by first applying colour on Radha's face.

Womenfolk, of Barsana it seems, after thousands of centuries want to take a sweet revenge of that prank of Krishna. Even men have not left their mischief and are still eager to apply colour on the women of Barsana.

Following the tradition, men of Nandgaon, the birthplace of Krishna, come to play Holi with the girls of Barsana, but instead of colours they are greeted with sticks.

Completely aware of what welcome awaits them in Barsana, men come fully padded and try their best to escape from the spirited women. Men are not supposed to retaliate on the day. The unlucky ones are forcefully led away and get a good thrashing from the women. Further, they are made to wear a female attire and dance in public. All in the spirit of Holi.

The next day, it is the turn of men of Barsana. They reciprocate by invading Nandgaon and drench the womenfolk of Nandgaon in colours of kesudo, naturally occurring orange-red dye and palash. This day, women of Nadagow beat the invaders from Barsana. It is a colourful site.


People of Maharashtra commonly know this festival of colours by the name of Rangpanchami as the play of colours is reserved for the fifth day here. Locals of Maharashtra also know Holi as Shimga or Shimgo.

The festival is particularly popular amongst fisher folk. They celebrate it in on a large scale and revel in the festivities by singing, dancing and merry-making. This special dance provide them means to release all their repressed feelings, needs and desires. People also utter sound through their mouths in a peculiar fashion by striking their mouths with the back of their hands. 

Basant Utsav 

Holi by the name of Basant Utsav is celebrated with fervour in the state of West Bengal. The tradition of Vasantotsav, meaning Spring Festival was started by poet and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan, the University he founded.

What is appreciated is the grace and diginified manner in which Vasant Utsav is celebrated in West Bengal as compared to boisterous Holi witnessed in most parts of India. Boys and girls joyfully welcome Spring, the season of hope not just with colours but with songs, dance, chanting of hymns in the serene ambiance of Shantiniketan. Anybody who got a chance to witness this elegant way of celebrating Holi in Bengal remembers it with fond memory for the rest of his life.

Dol Purnima 

Holi is also known by the name of Dol Purnima in West Bengal. 

Early in the morning, on the Dol Purnima day students dress up in saffron-coloured clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments presenting an enchanting view to the onlookers and a memory to cherish for years.

The festival is also known as 'Dol Jatra', 'Dol Purnima' or the 'Swing Festival'. The festival is celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs. Throughout the procession men keep spraying coloured water and colour powder, 'abeer' at them.

Hola Mohalla

Holi gets this joyful name in the state of Punjab. The festival is celebrated in an entirely different manner, it's meaning and significance also shifts a little here.

Hola Mohalla is actually an annual fair that is organised in a large scale at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab on the day following the festival of Holi. Practise of holding a fair of this kind was initiated by Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Sikh guru. Purpose of the fair was to physically strengthen the Sikh community by holding military exercises and mock battles.

The festival is celebrated for three consecutive days, in which members of Sikh community display their physical strength by performing dare-devil acts like bareback horse-riding, standing erect on two speeding horses, Gatka (mock encounters), tent pegging etc. This is followed by music and poetry competition to lighten the charged up atmosphere.

A number of durbars are also held where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. This helps strengthening the soul of community. On the last day a long procession, led by Panj Pyaras, starts from Takth Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five Sikh religious seats, and passes through various important gurdwaras like Qila Anandgarh, Lohgarh Sahib, Mata Jitoji and terminates at the Takth.

For people visiting Anandpur Sahib, langars (voluntary community kitchens) are organized by the local people as a part of sewa (community service). Raw materials like wheat flour, rice, vegetables, milk and sugar is provided by the villagers living nearby. Women volunteer to cook and others take part in cleaning the utensils. Traditional cuisine is served to the pilgrims who eat while sitting in rows on the ground.


The funfilled and enthusiastic people of Goa know Holi by the name of Shimgo in their local dialect Konkani. Here too, people play with bright colours to welcome the arrival of spring. This is followed by rich, spicy chicken or mutton curry called shagoti and sweet preparations. Some people also know Holi by the name of Rangpanchami.

The most interesting facet of Holi or Shimgmotav in Goa is the huge procession which is carried out in Panjim. Highpoint of this is performances of troupes and cultural drama depicting mythological and religious stories. People from every cast and religion participate in this festival with great enthusiasm.

Kaman Pandigai

In the state of Tamil Nadu, people worship Kaamadeva for his supreme sacrifice on the occasion of Holi. People know Holi by three different names Kaman Pandigai, Kamavilas and Kama-Dahanam.
The Legend
People of Tamil Nadu have great faith in the legend of Shiva and Kaamadeva. The story goes that Shiva went into deep meditation after the death of his consort, Sati. Due to Shiva's indifferent attitude gods became tensed and worried. Also, daughter of the mountains, Parvati started mediating to get Shiva as her husband. 

To get Shiva back to his original self gods seeked the help of Kaamadeva- the god of love. Fully aware of the repurcussions of such an act, Kaamdeva agreed to help gods for the good of the world. He shot his powerful arrow on Shiva when he was in deep meditation. Enraged, Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Kaamadeva to ashes. However, the arrow had the desired effect and Shiva agreed to marry Parvati.

Rati, Kaamadeva's wife though felt sad about the whole episode. She narrated the pathetic tale to Shiva and requested him to revive Kaamdeva. To which Shiva happily agreed.

In Tamil Nadu songs are sung on holi depicting Rati's extreme sorrow and people offer sandalwood to Kaamadeva to easen the pain of burning. People also believe that Kaamdeva was revived on the day of Holi and hence celebrate the festival in his name.

Phagu Purnima

 Phagu Purnima is another name for Holi where Phagu means the sacred red powder and Purnima or Pune is the full moon day, on which the festival ends.

At some places like Bihar, Holi is also known as Phagwa as it is celebrated in the later part of the month of Phalgun and the early part of Chaitra in the Hindu calendar. This corresponds to the English months of March-April.

The concept of New Year (Samvatsar) varies in the different provinces of our country. In some provinces, the month commences from the 'Krishna-Paksha' on the other hand in some provinces it commences from 'Shukla-Paksha'. For the former, the year ends on 'Purnima' of the month of Phalgun. The new years begins next day - Chaitra, 1st day of the Krishna Paksha. For them on this day the last year has died. For this reason in some provinces like Bihar and UP. Holika dahan is also called 'Samvatsar Dahan'. On this day all the bitterness and evil memories of the last year are burnt in the fire and the New Year is begun with a celebration.






Holi Festival

One of the major festivals of India, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar.

Holi festival may be celebrated with various names and people of different states might be following different traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.

Entire country wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration. Market places get abuzz with activity as frenzied shoppers start making preparations for the festival. Heaps of various hues of gulal and abeer can be seen on the roadside days before the festival. Pichkaris in innovative and modern design too come up every year to lure the children who wish to collect them as Holi memorabilia and of course, to drench everybody in the town.

Womenfolk too start making early preparations for the holi festival as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri and papri for the family and also for the relatives. At some places specially in the north women also make papads and potato chips at this time.

Season of Bloom
Everybody gets delighted at the arrival of Holi as the season itself is so gay. Holi is also called the Spring Festival - as it marks the arrival of spring the season of hope and joy. The gloom of the winter goes as Holi promises of bright summer days. Nature too, it seems rejoices at the arrival of Holi and wears its best clothes. Fields get filled with crops promising a good harvest to the farmers and flowers bloom colouring the surroundings and filling fragrance in the air.

A Hindu festival, Holi has various legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made he immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.

Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of 'Holika Dahan'.

Some also celebrate the death of evil minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna's devil uncle. However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.

In South India, people worship Kaamadeva- the god of love and passion for his extreme sacrifice. According to a legend, Kaamadeva shot his powerful love arrow on Lord Shiva to revoke his interest in the worldly affairs in the interest of the earth. However, Lord Shiva was enraged as he was in deep mediation and opened his third eye which reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. Though, later on the request of Rati, Kaamadeva's wife, Shiva was pleased to restore him back.

Holika Dahan
On the eve of Holi, called Chhoti or Small Holi people gather at important crossroads and light huge bonfires, the ceremony is called Holika Dahan. This tradition is also followed in Gujarat and Orissa. To render greatfulness to Agni, god of Fire, gram and stalks from the harvest are also offered to Agni with all humility. Ash left from this bonfire is also considered sacred and people apply it on their foreheads. People believe that the ash protects them from evil forces.

Play of Colors
Great excitement can be seen in people on the next day when it is actually the time for the play of colours. Shops and offices remain closed for the day and people get all the time to get crazy and whacky. Bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air and people take turns in pouring colour water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and throwing water balloons and passers by. Women and senior citizen form groups called tolis and move in colonies - applying colours and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouthwatering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.

Expression of Love
Lovers too long to apply colours on their beloved. This has a popular legend behind it. It is said that the naughty and mischievous Lord Krishna started the trend of playing colours. He applied colour on her beloved Radha to make her one like him. The trend soon gained popularity amongst the masses. No wonder, there is no match to the Holi of Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana - the places associated with the birth and childhood of Radha and Krishna.

Ecstasy of Bhang
There is also a tradition of consuming the very intoxicating bhang on this day to further enhance the spirit of Holi. It is so much fun to watch the otherwise sober people making a clown of themselves in full public display. Some, however, take bhang in excess and spoil the spirit. Caution should therefore be taken while consuming bhang delicacies.

Sober Evening
After a funfilled and exciting day, the evenings the spent in sobriety when people meet friends and relatives and exchange sweets and festive greetings.

It is said the spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions participate in this joyous and colourful festival and strengthen the secular fabric of the nation.

Tradition of Holi

The colourful festival of Holi is celebrated by different names in this vast and culturally diverse country. The traditions followed for the festival varies a little and at times a lot as one moves from one state to other studying the various facets of the festival and getting behind the various colours of it.

Nowhere it is celebrated with so much charm and enthusiasm as in Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana and Nandgaon - the places associated with the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna. At Barsana Holi assumes the name of Lathmaar Holi. Here, women of Barsana give a tough time to men of Nandgaon as they come to play Holi with them. Women drag the unlucky captives, beat them, dress them in a female attire - yet all is in the spirit of Holi.

Women of Haryana, specifically the bhabhis too get an upper hand on the day as they get a social sanction to beat their devars and take a sweet revenge for all the mischiefs they have played on them. This revengeful tradition is called the Dulandi Holi.

The most enjoyable tradition of Holi, of course, apart from the play of colours is the tradition of breaking the pot. It is celebrated with much fan fair in the states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. Here a pot of buttermilk is hung high on the streets. Men form a huge human pyramid and one on the top breaks the pot with his head. All this while women keep singing Holi folk songs and throwing buckets and buckets of water. The tradition has its roots in the mischievous nature of Lord Krishna who was so fond of butter milk that he used to steal it from every accessible house in the village. To hide the butter from young Krishna, womenfolk used to hang it high. All in vain!

Holi is celebrated in the most dignified manner in the state of Bengal. At Vishwa Bharti University, founded by Rabindranath Tagore founded the tradition of celebrating Holi as 'Basant Utsav' or 'Spring Festival'. Students decorate the campus with intricate rangolis and carry out prabhat pheris in the morning. Clad in a traditional attire young boys and girls sing songs composed by Gurudev and present an enchanting view to the onlookers who gather in large number here. In other parts of Bengal, Holi is celebrated as Dol Yatra where the idols of Radha and Krishna are placed on a decorated palanquin and taken out in a procession.

For Sikhs, Holi calls for the display of their physical strength and military prowess as they gather at Anandpur Sahib a day after Holi to celebrate Hola Mohalla. The tradition was started by the tenth and last guru of Sikh religion, Guru Gobind Singh ji and is being religiously carried forward.

In the north east, Manipuris celebrate the festival in a colourful manner for six continuous days. Here, the centuries old Yaosang Festival of Manipur amalgated with Holi with the introduction of Vaishnavism in the eighteenth century. The highlight of the festival here is a special Manipuri dance, called 'Thabal Chongba'.

Well, there are many-many more ways in which Holi is celebrated. Different states, different cities and different villages have come out with their unique and innovative styles of playing Holi. It may not be possible to describe all of them at one place. What is noteworthy though is the fact that the spirit of Holi remains the same throughout. It is the festival which generates the spirit of brotherhood and bring people close - and this is what matters most than anything else.

What enhances the spirit of Holi though is the tradition of consuming the intoxicating bhang. It is generally consumed with thandai or as pakoras. People go high on it and enjoy the festival to the hilt. Other Holi delicacies include gujiya, mathri, malpua, puranpoli, dahi badas, etc. After a frenzied play of colours people love to gorge them up.

Holi Celebration

Holi celebration takes place with lot of joy and verve throughout the country. The enthusiasm of the people reaches its peak and matches with the nature which is in full bounty at the time of Holi.

Holi is being celebrated in Indian since time immemorial but the popularity of Holi celebrations seems to be rising with every passing year and so is the level of hoo-ha. As no other festival gives so much liberty to the people to let their hair loose and enjoy their hidden crazy self.

Differences of any sort are drowned in the coloured waters of Holi and people just enjoy being a play animal. To further enhance the festive spirit of Holi celebrations we have a social sanction to get a kick with the tradition of bhang. Then there is total wildness as people dance to the rhythm of dholak and sing traditional folk songs in loudest possible pitch.

Children particularly enjoy the festival as they throw water filled balloons at passersby...and if anybody stares..they have ready answer, 'Bura na mano Holi hai..' and evoke a smile on the irritated face. Besides, they have their water missiles, called pichkaris to drench the person from far and escape further drenching.

In the midst of these colouring games are savoured the mouth watering holi specialities like gujiya, malpuas, mathri, puran poli, dahi badas etc and downed with glasses full of thandai.

In some states there is also a tradition of breaking the pot full of buttermilk which is hung high on the streets. A group of boys form a human pyramid and one of them break the pot. All this while womenfolk throw buckets of colour water on them and sing folk songs.

And after a wild and eventful day, evenings are celebrated in a dignified manner by visiting friends and relatives. People exchange sweets and hug each other conveying the warm wishes for Holi. These days there people also participate and organise Holi Meets and enjoy the festival till late in the night.

Holi celebrations that starts with the burning of Holika on the eve of Holi thus culminates with the lot of funfilled activity and bonhomie. However, at some places specially Mathura and Barsana Holi celebrations continue for a week as each major temple organise a Holi bash on different day. Lovers of the festival enjoy every moment to the hilt.

Festival of Colours

The festival of colours is Holi, it is vibrant and filled with beautiful colours. Holi is considered as one of major festival in India. It is celebrated in the month of Phalgun on full moon day according to Hindu calendar.

With the onset of spring, northern India gets into the colourful mood of Holi. This festival also denotes celebration due to good harvests and land’s fertility. This colourful festival also celebrates the eternal love of Radha and Krishna. This festival is celebrated in a grand style in the city of Mathura and Vrindavan. These are two important cities which are deeply associated to Lord Krishna.

The festival of colours teaches humankind to transcend above the caste and creed. It is a festival to forget old grievances and meeting others with great warmth & high spirit. This festival begins with lightening of bonfire on Holi eve. Next day, people play Holi with different types of colours, abirs and gulals. They greet each other with “Shubh Holi” i.e. Happy Holi and send warm wishes of the festival.

Kids and adults come out of their house and smear each other with bright shades of gulal. Colouful waters are sprinkled on people and kids are found playing with pichkari and water balloons. People exchange sweets, Thandai and snacks among neighbours and friends. Popular Holi sweets are Gujiya, Ladoo, Burfi and Imarti etc. Indian festive celebration is incomplete without delicious sweets.

People also dance in the beats of Holi songs and popular folk’s music. Exchange of holi gifts, snack hampers, dry fruits and greeting cards are also found.

Holi festival has religious and historical significance in Hindu texts. There was very popular mythological legend about king 'Hiranyakashyapu' and his son “Prahlad”. The devil king used to hate God esp. Lord Vishnu and threatened people in his kingdom to stop worshipping him. But this King’s own son was a verdant devotee of Lord Vishnu.

He denied to obey his father’s command and this infuriated the king. Hiranyakashyapu instructed his sister 'Holika' to pulverize his own son Prahald. Holika had the boon to being immune to fire. She was absolutely sure that she would not get affected by the blazing fire and took seat on the fire with young Prahlad. Lord Vishnu rendered protection of his devotee Prahlad and he was alive but Holika was burnt into death. Thereof, the festival of Holi signifies the victory of good over evil.

Today, the festival of colour gives us an opportunity to reunite with family, friends and dear ones. This festivity brings colours into the life of people, when they can take a break from their monotonous life and share the joy with loved ones. Everyone plays Holi by chasing each other and throwing bright gulal and coloured water.

Holika Dahan or the lighting of bonfire takes place on the eve of Holi. The day is also popularly called 'Chhoti Holi' or the 'Small Holi'.The bigger event - play with the colour takes place on the next 'big' day.

Holika Dahan is an extremely popular tradition and is celebrated with fervour all across the country and is symbolic of triumph of good over evil. There are numerous legends associated with this ancient tradition and it is difficult to pin-point as to when actually the tradition started.

A Brief History
Holikotsav finds a mention in the Vedas and Puranas. It is stated that during the Vedic period the sacred fire of Holi was burnt amidst the chanting of specific mantras which were intended for the destruction of the demonic forces. It is also said that on this very day Vaishwadev oblation commenced in which offerings of wheat, gram and oat were made to the sacrificial fire.

Some scholars believe that Holikotsav is named after fried cereals or parched grains called 'Holka' in Sanskrit. These parched grains were used to perform hawana (a fire ritual).The vibhuti (sacred ashes) obtained from this ritual was smeared on the forehead of those who participated in the ritual to keep away evil. This vibhuti is called Bhumi Hari. Till date there is a tradition of offering wheat and oat into the Holika fire.

According to Narad Purana, this day is celebrated in the memory of Prahlad's victory and the defeat of his aunt 'Holika'. The legend has it that there once existed a mighty demon king by the name of Hiranyakashyap who wished that everybody in his kingdom should worship him. His son, Prahlad became a follower of Lord Naarayana. Hiranyakashyap instructed his sister, Holika to sit in the burning fire with Prahlad in lap. She was blessed with a boon, as a result of which no fire could burn her. But the opposite happened, Prahlad survived and Holika was charred to death. Thus 'holi' is celebrated to commemorate the victory of virtue over evil.

It is because of this event, Holika (a bonfire) is burnt every year on Holi. The burning of the effigy of Holika is called Holika Dahan.

Another legend mentioned in the 'Bhavishya Purana' is also considered to be related to the festival of Holi. The legend goes back to the kingdom of Raghu, where lived an ogress called Dhundhi who used to trouble children but was finally chased away by them on the day of Holi. This is said to be the reason why the tradition of Holika Dahan is so popular amongst children and why they are allowed to play pranks on the day.

The Tradition
There is also a specific way in which Holika Dahan takes place. A log of wood is kept in a prominent public place on the Vasant Panchami day, almost 40 days before the Holi Festival. People go on throwing twigs, dried leaves, branches of trees left through the winter besides any other combustible material they can spare, on to that log which gradually grows into a sizable heap. On the day of Holika Dahan an effigy of Holika with child Prahlad in her lap is kept on the logs. Usually, Holika's effigy is made of combustible materials, whereas, Prahlad's effigy is made of non-combustible one. On the night of Phalguna Purnima, it is set alight amidst the chanting of Rakshoghna Mantras of the Rig Veda (4.4.1-15; 10.87.1-25 and so on) to ward off all evil spirits.

Next morning the ashes from the bonfire are collected as prasad and smeared on the limbs of the body. If spared by the fire coconuts are also collected and eaten.

Metaphorically though, the fire is meant to signify the destruction of evil - the burning of the 'Holika' - a mythological character and the triumph of good as symbolised by Prahlad. However, the heat from the fire also depicts that winter is behind and the hot summer days are ahead.
Next day after Holika Dahan is called Dhuleti, when play with colours actually takes place.

Samvatsar Dahan
It may be noted that in some places like Bihar and UP Holika Dahan is also known as 'Samvatsar Dahan'. The concept of Samvatsar New Year varies in different provinces of our country. In some provinces the month commences from 'Krishna Paksha' while in others it commences from 'Shukla Paksha'. For Krishna Paksha, the year ends on 'Purnima' of the month of Phalgun and thus the new year begins the next day - Chaitra, first day of the Krishna Pak

Holi Pooja Process


Holi Pooja takes place a day before the Holi Festival. This day is called as 'Holika Dahan'. There is no special pooja performed on the Holi day. This day is only meant for celebrations and play of colors. Holika Dahan is the major ritual performed at the time of Holi which is also considered an important Holi Puja. People light bonfires on the eve of Holi festival to celebrate the victory of 'good' over 'bad' which is called Holika Dahan.

Holi Pooja Process or Holika Dahan Process
Holika Dahan preparations begin almost 40 days before the festival. People start gathering woods on the important crossroads of the city. Holi Pooja or Holika takes place on an auspicious time in the evening a day before the Holi festival. Given below are the steps and rituals for the Holi Pooja:

  1. Holi Pooja can be performed at any place.
  2. A log of wood is kept at a prominent public place on the Vasant Panchami day.
  3. People extend the log centre with twigs, dried leaves, branches of trees and other combustible material.
  4. On the day of Holika Dahan, an effigy of Holika and Prahlad is placed on the huge heap of woods.
  5. Effigy of Holika is made of combustible material while Prahlad's effigy is made of non-combustible material.
  6. On the eve of Holi, the heap is set alight and the people chant Rakshoghna Mantras of the Rig Veda to cast away the evil spirits.
  7. Left over ashes are collected by people next morning. These ashes are considered holy and are smeared on the limbs of the body as Holi Prasad.
  8. Smearing of body limbs is an act of purification.
Holi Pooja is performed in a different manner in some communities. Marwari women offer Holi puja in the afternoon and evening i.e. before setting fire to 'Holika'. It is called 'Thandi Holi'. The whole puja process is considered very auspicious for the married women. It ensures well-being and healthy life of their husband.

Tradition of Thandai

Tradition of Thandai
Thandai is embedded with the tradition of Holi. A refreshing and healthful drink thandai is savoured in the midst of the play of colours when people become a little exhausted throwing each other in the pool of coloured waters. A glass of Thandai offers instant energy and sets the mood for playing with color. Besides, when laced with the intoxicating bhang it can make one sing, dance and go wild. Infact, bhang thandai is used as a mood setter for the festival of Holi.

Hub of Thandai
The tradition of thandai is particularly prevalent in North India. Banaras (now Varanasi) is called the hub for thandai. This is so as Banarasis are said to have a passion for milk-based drinks and of all the drinks thandai is said to be their specialty. 

Making of Thandai
Thandai is a cooling drink usually made of purified water, sugar, seeds of watermelon and muskmelon, almonds, lotus stem seeds, cashew nut, cardamom, saunf, rose-flower, white pepper, saffron and the very intoxicating bhang. 

After Effects
A spoon of bhang in the thandai makes a world of a difference. Bhang is mixed with milk, ice and cream and added to the thandai to produce a kick. While some become deliriously happy others turn as depressed as hell. Caution is needed when taking a bhang thandai as overdose might not be prove to be good.

Drinking thandai in Holi also gels with the weather as in North temperature runs high at that time and thandai is a coolant. Although home-made thandais always tastes better, in Banaras and elsewhere in India, it is now possible to buy commercial concentrates and make instant thandais.

Tradition of Bhang

Associated with Lord Shiva, bhang has now become synonymous with holi. To the extent that bhang drinks have now become an official Holi drink.

Culled from the leaves and buds of cannabis - the very intoxicating bhang helps to escalate the spirit of holi - a festival which does not recognise any restrictions. Lip smacking thandai, pakoras and vadas, all having bhang as a very essential ingredient, are savoured by all on the day.

Bhang Preparations in Banaras
The tradition of consuming bhang on holi is particularly rampant in North India where holi itself is celebrated with a gusto unseen anywhere else.
But, the hub of bhang is Varanasi or Banaras, the land of Shiva worship, where bhang is prepared on its famous ghats.

Anywhere on the ghats one can find large number of men engaged in the process of preparing bhang. Using mortar and a pestle, the buds and leaves of Cannabis are squashed and ground into a green paste. To this mixture milk, ghee, and spices are added. The bhang base is now ready to be made into a nutritious, refreshing drink - Thandai, a healthy alternative to alcohol. Bhang is also mixed with ghee and sugar to make a tasty green halva, and into peppery, chewy little balls called 'golees'.

A Brief History of Bhang
Bhang was first used as an intoxicant in India around 1000 BC and soon became an integral part of Hindu culture. In the ancient text Artharvaveda, Bhang is described as a beneficial herb that "releases anxiety". Bhang preparations were sacred to Gods, particularly Shiva. One of Shiva's epithets was "Lord of Bhang" as he is said to have discovered the transcendental properties of the mixture.

In imitation of Shiva, many sadhus use Bhang to boost meditation and achieve transcendental states. Besides, Bhang or cannabis is also believed to be popular amongst Sufis as an aid to spiritual ecstasy since a long time.

Bond with the Bhang
Ancient as it is, bhang has become a inseparable part of Indian tradition. So much so that it has become symbolic for a lot of things. They might be, or rather they are, pure superstitious believes. But if one understands the inherent sentimental and emotional nature of Indians, one can very easily feel the emotional bond people have with bhang.

Associated with Lord Shiva, hemp plant is regarded holy by the Hindus. There is even a belief that to meet someone carrying bhang is an omen of success. And, if longing for hemp plant foretells happiness, to see it in dreams ensures prosperity for a person in future. Also, walking underfoot a holy bhang leaf spells doom for a person.

People also strongly believe in the medicinal properties of the hemp plant. If taken in proper quantity bhang cures fever, dysentery and sunstroke. It helps to clear phlegm, quicken digestion, sharpen appetite, cure speak imperfection and lispering. Besides, it freshens the intellect and gives alertness to the body and gaiety to the mind.

What is bhang?
Cannabis Rank: Genus
Genus of three closely related species, often hybridized.
Cannabis is dioecious, i.e. individual plants are either male or female. The female plant is the more potent, especially when unpollinated (hence sinsemilla = without seed).

The plant has an ancient relationship with humankind, and has long been cultivated as a source of medicine (the buds), fiber (the stalks), and food (the seeds). It has been found in neolithic Chinese archaeological sites, and is mentioned in the earliest Chinese pharmacopoeias. In India it is associated with Shiva and has played an important role in religious life as a sacred inebriant.

Botanical Suffix: Linnaeus
Habitat: Native to Central Asia, now found worldwide.
Isolated Chemicals: THC Concentration varies greatly by strain.