Holi is one of the major festivals in India and is celebrated with great enjoyment and enthusiasm. It is an ancient Hindu festival of colours and also considered as a festival of love. This auspicious occasion falls in the month of Phalgun as per the Bengali calendar. This festival has got various names and the people of different states follow different traditions.
In Bengal Holi occasion is celebrated by various names and rituals added by rich Bengali culture. Dol Purnima is the popular name for Holi in West Bengal. Some people dress up clothes of saffron colour and sing and dance presenting enchanting view to the observers. This view is something to cherish for many.
The point of attraction of this festival in Bengal is the place named Shantiniketan in Bolpur. Basant Utsav meaning spring festival is the name given to the celebration of Holi in Shantiniketan. The boys and girls welcome the spring season with colours and they also sing and dance. They put colours to one another with the hope of making the life of loved ones colourful. This tradition was introduced by the world famous poet and Nobel Prize winner Rabindranath Tagore. Rabindranath Tagore started this Utsav in his institution with various cultural programs. The students of Vishwa Bharati celebrate this festival in a very special manner. The girls get dressed in sarees and boys wear traditional Kurta and Punjabi. After the end of the cultural program everyone plays with Abir (colour). To be a part of Basant Utsav, many tourists from nearby districts as well as far places visit Shantiniketan and enjoy the magnificent live cultural program performance. Since inception, Basant Utsav evolved as a milestone of Bengali culture and history and also gained international interest. This statement is proved by seeing the presence of many foreign tourists at the time of celebration of the Utsav.
In some places of Bengal, Holi is also celebrated as Dolothsava. Some people burn Holika on the eve of Holi. Holika are dry sticks and figs collected in large scale and kept together like a mount. This activity purifies the environment and atmosphere by killing the germs and insects by the fire. People dance and sing around the fire and welcome the spring season. In the morning, people play with wet as well as dry colours and greet each other for wellness and goodwill. Some special dishes are also prepared and people visit their loved ones with sweets and delicious dishes and celebrate together.
Another popular name of Holi in Bengal is Dol Purnima as the festival falls on the full moon day. On this day, the idol of Krishna and Radha, adorned with coloured powder and decorated with coloured clothes and papers is taken out for procession across many places in Bengal. The procession is accompanied with music and trumpets. The women devotees and worshippers sing devotional songs during the procession and the men keeps spraying colour. Generally the head of the family observes fasting and prays to Lord Krishna. After completing all the traditional rituals, bhog is offered to Krishna.
Festival of Holi in Bengal is a true symbol of socialization as well as harmony and brotherhood among the people.