SCFI FestivalsSociety for the Confluence of Festivals in India

Holi in Uttar Pradesh

Celebrations in UP are not just restricted to Mathura and Vrindavan. Rather, every nook and corner of the state gets wrapped in the multitude hues of the Holi. In this rather, conservative state Holi gives license to the youth to mingle freely and give colourful expressions to their feelings for each other. Not to be missed are the mouthwatering delicacies the state has for the festival. Gujiaya, mathri, dahi badas are a must besides many others festival goodies.

Holika Dahan

The major ritual of Holi in this state, is the lighting of bonfires, better known as Holika on Chhoti Holi on a day prior to the main Holi. The tradition signifies the victory of good over evil and finds its root in the various legends associated with the festival. Mainly, the story of demon king Hiranyakashyap. The King planned the death of his son, Prahlad an ardent devotee of Lord Naraayana with the help of his sister Holika. Prahlad was saved by the grace of God while Holika was consumed by fire.

Bhang

Description of Holi is incomplete without the mention of Bhang (cannabis).Holi has become synonymous with it for many. The tradition of eating bhang -- an intoxicating substance is rampant in northern India. It is usually consumed in the form of laddoo or as thandai. Consumption of bhang adds greatly to the revelry as people get high on it.

The land of Shiva, Banaras (or Varanasi as it is now known), is specially famous for its high level of bhang consumption. Sitting on the 'ghats' or steps leading to the Ganga river, people drenched in colours can be seen grinding bhang and mixing it with milk and various dry fruits to enhance the taste.

Celebration of Barley Harvest

The festival is also the celebration of barley harvest. On Chhoti Holi, people come together to light the fire. They bury a pot of new barley seeds under the pyre for roasting. These seeds are eaten after the fire is extinguished. Divinations for the coming harvest are cast by interpreting the direction of the flames or by the state of the seeds in the buried pot. People sometimes take embers from the fire to their homes to rekindle their own domestic fires. The ashes from the Holi fire are also believed to provide protection against diseases.

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