Holi in East India - Bengal, Bihar, Orissa


In West Bengal region, Holi is known by the name of "Dol Jatra", "Dol Purnima" or the "Swing Festival". Holi is celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the icons of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city or the village.


On the Dol Purnima day in the early morning, the students dress up in saffron-coloured or pure white clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments like ektara, dubri, veena, etc. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs. During these activities, the men keep spraying coloured water and coloured powder, abir, at them.


The head of the family observes a fast and prays to Lord Krishna and Agnidev.[citation needed] After all the traditional rituals are over, he smears Krishna's icon with gulal and offers "bhog" to both Krishna and Agnidev. In Shantiniketan, Holi has a special musical flavour. Visitors on Holi are offered traditional dishes that include malpoa, kheer sandesh, basanti sandesh (saffron), saffron milk, payash, and related foods.


Holika Dehan

Holi is known as Phaguwa in the local Bhojpuri dialect. In Bihar State, the legend of Holika is prevalent. On the evening of Phalgun Poornima, people light bonfires. They put dried cow dung cakes, wood of Araad or Redi tree and Holika tree, grains from the fresh harvest and unwanted wood leaves in the bonfire. At the time of Holika people assemble near the fire. The eldest member of the gathering or a purohit initiates the lighting. He/She then smears others with colour as a mark of greeting.

Holi with Colors, Holi Milan

Next day the festival is celebrated with colours and lot of frolic. Traditionally, people also clean their houses to mark the festival. Holi Milan, is also observed in Bihar where family members and well wishers visit each other's family, apply colours (abeer) on each other's faces, and on feet, if elderly. Usually this takes place on the evening of Holiday after Holi with wet colours is played in the morning through afternoon. Due to large scale internal migration issues faced by the people, recently this tradition has slowly begun to transform.


It is common to have Holi Milan on an entirely different day either before or after the actual day of Holi. Children and youths take extreme delight in the festival. Though the festival is usually celebrated with colours, in some places people also enjoy celebrating Holi with water solutions of mud or clay.

Folk songs and Bhang

Folk songs are sung at high pitch and people dance to the tune of dholak and the spirit of Holi. Intoxicating bhang, made from cannabis, milk and spices, is consumed with a variety of mouth-watering delicacies, such as pakoras and thandai, to enhance the mood of the festival.


In Orissa Holi is celebrated with Holika Dehan, Colors.  In addition during the pooja time the icons of Jagannath, the deity of the Jagannath Temple of Puri, are used.  In most of north Indian states icons of Krishna and Radha are used.

City guide of Bihar Orissa - Things to do in Bihar, Attractions in Orissa

Holi in swimming pool

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