holi in kolkata

Holi in Kolkata — Hugely Colourful and Enthusiastic Celebrations

It was a February evening and Mrs. Sharmila Chatterjee was extremely worried.

It was quite late in the evening. Jeet was supposed to come back much earlier.

Wasn’t Jeet aware of the time? That it was already very late in the evening?

Sharmila was getting anxious, angry, and stressed. She had no idea why Jeet was so late. No idea where he is. No way to contact him.

Because Jeet was not carrying any mobile phone.

Sharmila was looking at the pathway leading to their block in their housing complex every 5 minutes. It was already 45 minutes past his usual time of coming home but still no sign of him.

Sharmila started to panic then and began to think about calling Sanjoy, although he is usually so much bogged down in work that Sharmila doesn’t want to bother him.

Sharmila picked up the mobile phone.

But something happened just then.

What Happened to Jeet?

At that very moment, Sharmila heard the sound she was dying to hear. The doorbell rang. Sharmila ran to the door and opened it to see a smiling Jeet standing at the door.

Sharmila wanted to scold and question Jeet at the same time. But it was not necessary. Jeet told her why he came back late.

He told her that there will be a cultural programme on the evening of Holi in their complex. Today was the meeting with all participants and Rana uncle, who plans and directs any cultural programme in the complex.

The meeting went on for a long time and that’s why Jeet got delayed.

Jeet said he just forgot to tell Sharmila about it.

Anyway, Sharmila calmed down then. She is very proud of her son Jeet who sings and is a permanent member of the drama team.

Good that she didn’t call her husband Sanjoy as he would have been very worried.

The Holi programme is very colourful in their complex. It is the day when everybody plays Holi with abir (gulal) in the morning. The cultural programme is the central attraction in the evening.

Holi is a Day of Social Interaction

A few years ago, celebrating the Holi festival was not so popular in Kolkata. West Bengal predominantly celebrated Dol Jatra, while Holi was celebrated selectively in some pockets only.

While many still preserve this tradition, others like to take the celebrations the way the rest of India celebrates Holi. In fact, like other metros, theme parties on Holi are now becoming increasingly common in Kolkata. Many venues and clubs organise these parties where people can not only play Holi but also enjoy a host of exciting events amidst foot-tapping music and an unlimited supply of food and drinks.

In the last few years, the population distribution of Kolkata has changed, especially with the widespread development of housing complexes. Housing complexes are predominantly cosmopolitan in character, and Holi is more apt there rather than Dol Jatra.

In the housing complex where Snajoy, Sharmila, and Jeet live, Holi is celebrated with gusto.

Their neighbour, Mr. Sudipta Mukherjee, aged 55 years, will wear a spotless white kurta-pyjama and sing his favourite songs, starting with Rang bharo se. Soon enough, his spotless white kurta will be colourful with different patches of colour all over.

Mr. Sisodia has a different way of celebrating altogether. His idea is to get smeared with some colours in the morning, and then settle down in the residents’ club with a glass of beer in hand and get immersed into endless discussions on politics.

Mrs. Susmita Chatterjee makes it a point to offer sweets to every child in the complex. In fact, she offers sweets to almost everyone, whether child or not.

Cultural Extravaganza in the Evening

West Bengal residents are culturally inclined and Dol Jatra/Holi is no different. In fact, there is a definite cultural connotation to the festival as it is called Basanta Utsav to welcome the advent of spring.

In Shantiniketan, the festival day is packed with numerous cultural programs, such as songs, solo dance performances, group choreography, and drama.

Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore started the annual festival of Basanta Utsav in Vishwa Bharati to celebrate the magic of spring with songs, dance, and colours. Today, the Basanta Utsav is not only an intrinsic part of the Bengali tradition, but it is also a universal festival where people from all over the world come to enjoy.

The Chatterjee’s make themselves comfortable in front of the stage in their complex and enjoy the performance. Every year, Jeet sings a song and joins the enactment of a drama.

holi in kolkata drama

The day ends in socialising, small talks, songs and dances, and having some sweets together.

Holi in Kolkata Has International Appeal

According to the legends, Lord Krishna expressed his love for Radha on the day of Dol. In Bengal, there is a use of coloured powders, popularly known as ‘abir’ or ‘phag’ as opposed to coloured water to celebrate the love of Radha and Krishna.

ISKCON — which has global headquarters in Mayapur in West Bengal’s Nadia district — hosts a series of activities on the occasion of Dol Jatra, while also organising programmes on the life and teachings of Mahaprabhu.

ISKCON’s Holi celebration is also a major draw for foreign tourists from all over the world. ISKCON’s Kolkata centre also witnesses huge footfalls from foreign nationals who wish to participate in the festivities in a safe environment.

You can notice foreigners with abir smeared on their selves, playing with colours, and enjoying themselves.

Although the celebration of Holi in Kolkata is not so full of revelry, it is a unique mixture of fun, socialising, and it brings out the deep-rooted cultural traditions of the City of Joy.

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