Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Kumaoni Holi: Festival of music and color

Whenever holi comes it take me down to memory lane, way back when I was kid. Most of the best holi I ever had when I was a kid and all those holi I celebrated in my native place (Uttaranchal). It's unique because the Kumaoni Holi lies in being a musical affair, whether it's the Baithki Holi, the Khari Holi or the Mahila Holi. I remember those baloons filled with colored water, hitting those baloons to each other or persons visiting in neighborhood. We also used to have a steel or iron hook tied with a rope or one strong thread and then one kid goes to roof of a house and other kids just hang around in the road. As soon as any person wearing hat or holi cap crosses our kids-zone, one kid hooked that hook in the hat and by the time anybody thinks what happened their hat hanged in the air. Most of our target used to be 'Dotiyal' (Nepali Kooli) and 'huliyar' (holi singers) and they also enjoyed it some time. But those days are gone now. OK, let me tell you something about our Kumaoni holi.

The Baithki Holi and Khari Holi are based on the songs which have touch of melody, fun and spiritualism, these songs are actually based on classical ragas. The Baithki Holi begins from the premises of temples, where Huliyars (the professional singers of Holi songs and they sport traditional Kumaoni Cap, Churidar Paijama and Kurta) and also the people gather to sing holi songs.

Every night for one month before holi, you can hear the villagers, sitting next to the fire and singing special holi songs in the local Kumaoni language. According to the local customs, one week before holi, the famous Kumaoni 'Khari holi' starts with people finally standing up to dance to the mesmerising tunes of the holi singers. Usually it happened at night in and around 'Cheer' (like a x-mas tree but not actually x-mas tree). Finally, the last day of the holi (actually night before this day), burn the 'cheer' (called 'holika dehan') and singing all night. On this night dancing troupes or Holi teams, who have already been going around in groups to various villages or city negiborhood to collect funds (usually every night for one week), visit villagers on request, matching their step on the ‘Jhora’ dance and singing at their doorsteps. On the final day also known as ‘chaleri’ ('duhlendi' called in other parts of India), there is a riot of colours, lots of sweets and of course ‘bhang’, a drink made from cannabis seeds.

In nut shell, The joy and happiness is reflected during Holi which is celebrated with great fun for one week. People singing and dancing all around on the tune of Dholak and Majeera is a common sight seeing in kumaon these days. Holi is an unique musical affair in Kumaon. It seems that every child, young, old, man, woman is a perfect classical singer. Melodious songs are sung at Baithaki (sitting) Holi, Khari (standing) Holi and Mahila (Ladies) Holi. Each song is based upon some Raga with touch of humor and spirituality and these songs should be sung based on the time. For instance, at noon the songs based on Peelu, Bhimpalasi and Sarang ragas are sung while evening is reserved for the songs based on the ragas like Kalyan, Shyamkalyan and Yaman etc. I wish in one holi I will go back and see if same masti (fun) and music still there or lost with the time.

I wish all the visitors of lonely planet a very happy and Colorful Holi !!!!

7 comments:

Alka Dwivedi said...

Good to read about Holi on your side. I saw the festival celebarting in somewhat similar style as you have mentioned on TV. :-) Its facinating to read the almost similar description on your blog. :-)

Tarun said...

Good to see your comments after a long time...:)

SV said...

Tarun, if you do plan to join us for 'First Annual Northeast Desi Blogger Meet' you need to RSVP by March 31. Details on my blog.

SV said...

Tarun, if you do plan to join us for 'First Annual Northeast Desi Blogger Meet' you need to RSVP by March 31. Details on my blog.

divya said...

happy holi...

Tarun said...

thanks divya you too have happy holi...

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