Knowledge about Holi festival in West Bengal – What is Holi, Dolpurnima, Doljatra?
What is Holi festival?
One of the major festivals of India, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar.
Holi festival may be celebrated with various names and people of different states might be following different traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.
What is Dol Purnima?
Holi is also known by the name of Dol Purnima in West Bengal.
Early in the morning, on the Dol Purnima day students dress up in saffron-coloured clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments presenting an enchanting view to the onlookers and a memory to cherish for years.
The festival is also known as ‘Dol Jatra’, ‘Dol Purnima’ or the ‘Swing Festival’. The festival is celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs. Throughout the procession men keep spraying coloured water and colour powder, ‘abeer’ at them.
What is dolyatra?
The festival of Dolyatra is celebrated with pomp and dignity in the state of West Bengal. It is essentially a festival of colours, just as Holi is but the way it is celebrated makes it different from Holi as witnessed in rest of India.
What makes, Dolyatra so special in West Bengal is the fact that it is the last festival of Bengali Year. The festival is being celebrated since ancient times. It celebrates the legend of Radha and Krishna which says that Lord Krishna expressed his love to her beloved Radha on the day of Dolyatra.
Before starting with celebrations, people worship Radha and Krishna on this day. In some places special pujas and bhajans are also organsied. Once the ceremony gets over people indulge in play with colours.
Colour powder is popularly known as ‘phag’ in Bengal. Shops remain closed on the day and people get all the time to drown themselves in the spirit of the festival. Following the tradition young people start the festival by applying phag on the pictures of the deceased in the family and then on the feet of the elders as a mark of respect. The elders bless them by applying colour on the faces. After this, phag is applied on anybody and everybody.
‘Dol Jatra’, ‘Dol Purnima’ or the ‘Swing Festival’ as Dol Yatra is then celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the idols of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs. All this while men keep spraying coloured water and colour powder, ‘abeer’ at them.