Holi in the Hills

Posted in News on Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Holi in the Hills

Freelance journalist Devika Raghave explains how the wonderful festival of colours is celebrated in the Himalayan foothills.

In the vastly psychedelic tapestry of Indian festivals, Holi or Basant Utsav retains an exotic flavor of its own. Not only does this celebration draw the locals to revel for weeks into singing and dancing, but has a mass appeal across the globe too.

You may call it by any name – Holika, Dhulendi, Phagwa (Hindu calendar months of Phagun). This festival of colours is known for its joyous nature, welcoming the spring season, the splashes of new, the fertility of the land awaiting new crops and its excesses; hence the celebration of life and love.


Each festival has its own history, from which arises its derivation. The ancient Indian scriptures mention Holi and so do the mythological lore’s narrate tales of victory of the good over evil. The Asura king Hiranyakashyap’s evil plan to burn his young son Prahlad seated on his sister Holika’s lap in the burning pyre, and how Lord Vishnu’s avatar – Narasimha, saved his devotee Prahlad from their clutches. Thus, the name “Holika Dahan”… People still worship the symbolic pyre by burning logs of wood a day before the colours are played with.


The grand, ancient temples of India have sculptures depicting the festival. The 16th century stone cuts at Hampi, (capital of Vijayanagar –south of india)  has many carvings sculpted on its walls. And so do many medieval paintings such as the Ahmednagar painting, the Mewar paintings and the Bundi miniatures all depict Holi celebrations of Maharajas and their courtesans.


The Indian state of Uttarakhand, has a unique version of the same. The regions of Kumaon, Haldwani etc are exceptionally beautiful, so are its people, deep-seated in rich traditions and customs. Days ahead, the valleys reverberate with the folk songs beautifully infused with Hindustani Classical notes and rhythms. The experience of the Baithaki and Khadi Holi of Uttarakhand makes this festival one of song n dance laced with joyous spiritualism. The folk songs are also devoted to Lord Krishna and his playful disposition, sung by the local groups. They men visit the neighbouring houses singing and enjoying the feast offered by their hosts; mostly of aloo-gutka and bhang ki chutney along with sweetmeats these days.


So in bidding adieu to the cold winter months, welcoming the warmth of human relations, joys and togetherness, the 10 day trip commences from 27th February to 8th of March 2018. Trekking through pristine forests from one village to another, the walking- small-group holiday of Village Ways will transport you to another dimension of an inimitable experience.

Click here to see our small group Colours of Holi holiday.

About Devika

"I chanced upon Village Ways in the most unconventional manner (Park Director – Satpuda Forest Reserve’s reference). It’s been so many years since that I have been an ardent fan of the belief that Village Ways is founded upon; something really close to my heart too.

Travelling remains a passion till date. Meeting people, exploring terrain and the unusual has always been intrinsic of my character. I love to exchange ideas and sample local cuisine wherever I go."

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