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Holi in India in 2023

(Last Updated 16 May, 2022)

  • Dates :

    08/03/2023 - 08/03/2023

  • Location :

    Barsana, Mathura, Vrindavan, Bolpur


Beating drums, colors soaring higher than birds, people sharing sweets, and dancing to Holi special songs make the Holi Festival in India exciting. The entire country, especially Uttar Pradesh’s Barsana and Vrindavan, burst into all shades of the rainbow and rejoice in Holi festivities.

In Barsana and Vrindavan, the Holi festival has a rich cultural significance, making the Holi festival here more memorable. Bright colors and happiness soak each and every corner of the state and bring much joy to the lives of the people.

Not just in Uttar Pradesh but the entire country warmly welcomes spring and celebrates Holi Festival. Holi celebrations in Odisha and West Bengal are quite famous too. The mythology is different. The over-brimming joy of togetherness makes everyone flush with happiness during this time of the year. This is partly due to the relief from the humdrum and monotony of everyday existence.

So, if you want to delight in all the celebrations of Holi, get ready for an unprecedented experience. Plan a trip to India with Indian Holiday well-crafted packages to enjoy Holi celebrations between February and March.

Book 7-day Special Holi Tour Package 

When is Holi Festival in India Celebrated?

Holi is celebrated in March every year. The festivities of Holi begin with Holika Dahan on Purnima (full moon night) and end the day after when the colors come into play.

However, in West Bengal in Odisha, where Holi is celebrated as Dol Jatra, the colors are included on the day of Holika Dahan itself.

Holi Festival 2023 Date: 8th March 2023

Where is Holi Celebrated? 

The joyful festival of Holi is celebrated with much fervor at Barsana and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, which is around 3 hours drive from Delhi. These are known to be the places where Lord Krishna spent his childhood.

Holi is celebrated in other places, including Rajasthan’s Pushkar, Jaipur, Santiniketan in Birbhum, and Udaipur. Many foreign travelers visit India to partake in Holi festivities and make happy memories and a fulfilled heart back home.

Legend of Holi Festival in India

Holi, the festival of colors, has three legends associated with it.

Legend of Holika and Prahalad

This legend is associated with Holika, a female demon and sister of the demon King Hiranyakashayap. He was Pralahad’s father and was against his devotion towards Lord Vishnu. Prahalad went against his mother and worshiped Lord Vishnu, which made his father angry. He decided to kill him and asked her sister to carry the young Prahlad into a burning pyre.

Holika was blessed for never being burned by fire. But miraculously, Prahlad survived with the grace of Lord Vishnu while the flames consumed Holika. Since then, Holika Dahan has come into being that celebrates the victory of good over evil.

Legend of Lord Krishna

The second legend is associated with the young and dusky Lord Krishna. He always complained about the fair complexion of his companion Radha. So one day, his mother, Yashoda, told him to color Radha so that they appear the same. This resulted in a play of colors celebrated with much vim and vigor, especially in Mathura and surrounding towns.

Legend of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva

The third legend about Holi has its roots embedded in the Shaivism school of thought. According to it, Goddess Parvati was uneasy considering Lord Shiva’s eternal meditation. So, she sought help from Kamadeva – the Hindu god of love, who shot an arrow to wake up Shiva. But the arrow erroneously opened His third eye and burnt Kamadeva to ashes. So, Rati, Kamadeva’s wife, meditated for 40 days, deeply agonized by her husband’s death. This pacified Shiva, and He brought Kamadeva back to life. People rejoice in this return of divinity and love as Holi on the 40th day after Vasant Panchami.

 

Holi Festival in India in 2023 Celebrations

Holi is among the most enjoyed festivals in India. Along with offering prayers and following the traditions, the festival of colors paints faces with myriad hues and paints souls with colors of joy. In many places, the festivities begin as early as during Makar Sankranti and continue even after Holi.

Preparations for Holi: 

  • Before the festival arrives, people start collecting stuff for ceremonies like wood and combustible material to light a bonfire (Holika). They stock their houses with sweets, drinks, and festival foods like gujiya, malpuas, and mathri.
  • Holika Dahan: One night before the Holi Festival, people lit bonfires in open spaces and community parks. Singing and dancing follow. In some regions of India, people walk across the hot coals of fire, which is considered sacred.
  • Colors Get Involved: The main day of Holi does not necessarily involve any rituals and is the day of simply having fun with the colors. Traditionally, people used kumkum, turmeric, and neem, but nowadays, colored powders are used. People paint each other with different colors and dance to traditional Holi songs. Bhang, a traditional Holi drink, is prepared and served on this day.

Apart from this, Lathmar Holi is very famous and is one of the biggest Holi events that make this festival substantial. Here are the details of the major Holi events in 2023.

Event 1: Lathmar Holi
Dates: March 3 and March 4, 2023
Where: Barsana and Nandgaon

TThis peculiar Holi event involves women chasing men to hit them with lathis (sticks). Thus the name – Lathmar Holi. Thousands of people come from far and wide to participate in this event and enjoy the playful beatings. As far as confirmation of Lathmar Holi dates is concerned, it is celebrated almost seven days before the main Holi. As the dates vary every year, it is wise to confirm the dates before leaving to enjoy the celebrations. It is wise to reach there early in the morning to avoid crowds and enjoy the fullest.

This peculiar Holi event involves women chasing men to hit them with lathis (sticks). Thus the name – Lathmar Holi. Thousands of people come from far and wide to participate in this event and enjoy the playful beatings. As far as confirmation of Lathmar Holi dates is concerned, it is celebrated almost seven days before the main Holi. As the dates vary every year, it is wise to confirm the dates before leaving to enjoy the celebrations. It is wise to reach there early in the morning to avoid crowds and enjoy the fullest.

The Legend of Lathmar Holi

When Lord Krishna visited Barsana to meet Radha for Holi, he teased her and her friends. The offended women chased him with sticks to teach him a lesson. The legend now continues as, on this day, women chase away men from Nandgaon who visit Barsana.

How to Reach Barsana?

By Air: To reach there by air, the nearest airport is in Agra (113 km), which is connected to various cities in the country. From Agra, you can book a cab to Barsana. Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi provides wider connectivity for travelers. From Delhi, tourists can easily reach Barsana via a hired cab.

By Road: To reach Barsana from Delhi (170.5 km) is easy. Simply hire a cab or get on the road by car. From Mathura, Barsana's nearest town, you can visit the event in no time.

By Train: Mathura is the nearest railhead (52 km) that is connected to major cities of India and provides smooth connectivity to Barsana.

Know More About Lathmar Holi (Barsana Holi) in Uttar Pradesh

Event 2: Phoolon wali Holi
Dates: March 5, 2023
Where: Vrindavan

The famous Banke Bihari Temple celebrates a unique form of Holi on Aanola Ekadashi. This celebration involves playing with flowers rather than colors. Thus, the name - Phoolon wali Holi. The temple gates open around 4 in the evening, and the celebrations commence. Temple priests shower flowers at devotees. The celebrations last for just 15-20 minutes, so it is prudent that you reach there in time. Although the event is not that famous, it is gaining impetus with time.

The Legend of Phoolon wali Holi

The event began per se, so there is no such legend associated with it. The flowery affair not just adds colors to the day of participants but also introduces them to fragrant celebrations. The event looks ethereal with generous showers of flower petals of marigold, rose, lotus, etc. Additionally, the devotees are bathed in the colors of devotion toward Banke Bihari.

How to Reach Vrindavan?

By Air: Agra airport is the nearest to Vrindavan (53 km). Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, provides flight connectivity to visitors from far and wide. Whichever airport you choose, you can take a cab to reach Vrindavan from there.

By Road: From Delhi, Vrindavan is easily accessible (181 km). You can get there by car/cab. Also, several buses ply between Delhi and Vrindavan on a daily basis.

By Train: The nearest Railway station to Vrindavan is in Mathura (9 km). From Mathura, you can hire a taxi/cab to reach Vrindavan.

Event 3: Widow's Holi
Dates: March 7, 2023
Where: Vrindavan

The season of Holi ushers in with lots of colors, flavors, and fun-filled times. Unfortunately, widows of the country were refrained from partaking in this play of colors and adding some to their lives. Many are seen clad in plain white clothes, and some even live in ashrams. Being a part of this unique event in the series of Holi celebrations is an experience to cherish. After all, it is a new part of the festival of colors. And by joining widows in this colorful play, you can add colors of joy to their days and paint your inner self with some contentment. You can join widows in this celebration at Gopinath Temple.

The Legend of Widow's Holi

Like a fresh breeze of a beautiful change, Widow's Holi stepped up almost five years ago. This revolutionary change was introduced in Pagal Baba Widow Ashram, Vrindavan.

Event 4: Holi at Banke Bihari Temple
Dates: March 8, 2023
Where: Vrindavan

What is better than joining the festive merriment at Banke Bihari, the place where Lord Krishna is believed to be born? This is the heart of the festival, where celebrations are enjoyed just a day before Holi. The temple welcomes the devotees with its gates wide open from 9 am to 1:30 pm. The priest greets devotees by splashing colors and sprinkling holy water on them. Thereafter, the entire scene is echoed with chants.

Event 5: Holi Procession
Dates: March 8, 2023
Where: Mathura

Once merriment is over at Banke Bihari Temple, Mathura is the next stop that beckons for jollity. Here, a fun-filled and flamboyant procession awaits you. The procession begins at Vishram Ghat at 3 pm and concludes at the Holi Gate after sunset. Young boys and girls are dressed as Lord Krishna and Radha and moving ahead in vehicles adorned with flowers and with devotional songs and music. People continue to spray colors on each other as the procession proceeds.

In the evening, people come together for Holika Dahan - burning the effigy of Holika. A huge effigy is burnt at the Holi Gate. Many cultural programs follow, and women pray at functions held at crossroads.

How to Reach Mathura?

You can take an auto-rickshaw or cab from Vrindavan to Mathura.

Event 6: Holi Festivities
Dates: March 9, 2023
Where: Mathura

On the big day of Holi, Dwarkadheesh Temple hosts the grandest celebrations. The temple gates open at 10 am to the crowd waiting eagerly to enter. People are already smeared with colors and high on the festive spirit. Dhol is played, adds to the revelry, and people join with dance. Holi is also played inside the temple with full festive fervor.

It is suggested to begin the day at Vishram Ghat, where bhang is made. You might even grab a glass to gulp.

Beat the Hunger

On Holi, after the festivities are over, it is quite tough to find food to satiate your hunger pangs. It is thus wise to stock up on some food in advance. Just in case you can't get food beforehand, head to a Dhaba opposite Holi Gate. Around 4 pm, Brijwasi Sweets at Holi Gate open, where you can savor some good food.

How to Reach Mathura?

To revel in this unbeatable festive delight, you can simply reach the temple if you are in Mathura. If you are in Delhi, you can easily get a cab to Mathura.

Event 7: Huranga at Dauji Temple
Dates: March 10, 2023
Where: Baldeo

After the day of Holi, Dauji Temple in Baldeo (30 km from Mathura) breathes fun and frolic. It starts at 12:30 pm and continues till 4:00 pm. To get good photos, you have to reach there as early as 9 am and grab a seat on the top for an ultimate view and amazing clicks.

The Legend of Huranga at Dauji Temple

The celebration traces its origin 500 years ago to the time of the Krishna temple. Ladies of the family that built the temple strip the men and beat them with their clothes in the temple courtyard. The family is unbelievably big, having as many as 3000 members! The members join the festival here from across the continents.

Once the people are done with the ceremony, Holi is played with everyone joining in.

How to Reach Baldeo?

From Mathura, hire a cab or take an auto-rickshaw to reach this place. If you are coming all the way from Delhi, book a cab, partake in the festivities, and return by noon.

 Tips

  • Be careful while carrying a camera during the festivities. Shield it with a waterproof cover.
  • Clad in clothes that you can discard after Holi.
  • Pay attention to being safe as it is difficult to keep a check on people's activities during the merriment.
  • Carry your phone, wallet, and other essentials in a bag.

Holi in West Bengal and Odisha

In the states of Odisha, West Bengal, and Assam, Holi is celebrated as Dol Jatra. The festival is dedicated to Lord Krishna, but the mythology is different. It is believed that Krishna expressed his love to Radha on this day. During the festivities, the idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are carried in procession in ornamented palanquins. Devotees take turns swinging them. The idols of Krishna and Radha are smeared with colors, which are also thrown into the air at people. These festivities start six days before the day of Phagu Dashami, which will fall on March 8, 2023.

Holi festival in West Bengal is celebrated in Shantiniketan, located in Bolpur in West Bengal. The noble laureate Rabindranath Tagore started the annual celebrations of Basanta Utsav in Vishwa Bharati University to welcome spring with songs, dance, and colors.



Holi Celebrations in Other Parts of India

Barsana Holi

Holi celebrations in Barsana are among the most unique festivities in India. In the spirit of fun, smearing of colors, drenching in water and mock fights. According to legends, Barsana was the birthplace of Radha, the consort of Lord Krishna. As the fables narrate, the lord used to come from his home-town Nandgaon to tease Radha and the Gopis.

The tradition continues till date. Men from Nandgaon come to Barsana to play and the women greet them with sticks (lathis). The unique spectacle is known as Lathmaar holi. The abundance of sweets, bhang and the festive spirit enhance the thrill.

Holi in Rajasthan

Rajasthan, like the rest of India, dips in the celebration of Holi by welcoming the spring season. Call it the festival of love or colors the state knows how to mix ritual and other ancient traditions with a final touch of royalty. What's even unique is the way different parts of the state giving the festivities their own different vibe. While Mali and Gair Holi are distinct to Ajmer, Brij Holi to Bharatpur, Bikaner rejoices the colorful time of the year by playing Dolchi Holi.

Holi Gujarat

Gujarat celebrates Holi with a unique fervor. The most famous tradition is the breaking of the earthen pot full of buttermilk. This ritual comes from the tales where Lord Krishna used to tease and break pots of the milkmaids. A pot full of buttermilk is tied high on a rope. To get to the heights, people form a human pyramid. While the young boys form the pyramid, people throw colored water on them. There are competition among groups to win this prize. During the festival people rejoice with the play of colors, gorging on sweets while drenched in festive spirits.

Holi in Santiniketan

Drenched in the mesmeric charms of spring, Holi in Santiniketan is a celebration of love, fun and art. The onset of the season of spring calls for the occasion of the Basant Utsav. The loving abode of Rabindranath Tagore, Shantiniketan is seen transformed in festive mood as he had started the ritual years back. The very ambiance is of fun and the oncoming delights of the spring.

Colorful traditional attire, play of dry colors, dance, music, sweets and more create wonderful joy. The occasion is made special with the tunes of Baul singers and their melodies hums of 'Ektara'-the musical instruments.


FAQs of Holi Festival

Q: Which are the best places to stay in Mathura and Vrindavan during Holi?

Ans: As Mathura and Vrindavan are not known to house a good lot of accommodation, you need to book in advance. Choose from resorts, luxury hotels, or budget lodges/inns as per your pocket and preferences. In Mathura, you can select accommodation near Vishram Ghat. Hotel Brijwasi Royal, MMN Resort, and Hotel Jyoti Residency are among the best places to stay in Mathura. To soak in the spirituality of Vrindavan, stay near Banke Bihari Temple.

Q: What to eat in Mathura and Vrindavan during Holi?

Ans: Food is the highlight of Holi festivities in Mathura and Vrindavan. Jalebis, pedas, imartis, kachori, aloo tikki, lassi, and much more add to the flavors of celebrations. Thandai (cold flavored milk) is among the special delicacies during this festival that must not be missed.

Q: How can we enjoy an eco-friendly Holi?

Ans: To enjoy an eco-friendly Holi, use organic colors. You can also use flowers instead of colors or make your own colors with ingredients available at home or from flowers in your garden. Additionally, it is good to play Holi without water.

Q: How can women stay safe during Holi festivities in Mathura and Vrindavan?

Ans: No matter how excitement-packed Holi is, women travelers need to follow some safety protocols for an enjoyable Holi. Here are some tips to keep away people who are bent on creating ruckus for females in disguise of festivities -

  • Always travel in a group, or else it's best to avoid traveling to Barsana or Mathura for the Holi celebration altogether.
  • Avoid excessively crowded places.
  • Attend the celebrations with people you know well.
  • You might be drenched, so wear clothes that maintain your decency even after being soaked in colorful water. Cover up fully and refrain from putting on light colors and light fabrics.
  • Say "no" to unwanted advances to color you. No one can cross boundaries under the pretext of Holi if you refuse to participate.
  • Keep an eye on those who seem to create trouble.
  • Look for volunteers who are there to help you in times of need.

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