Rolls Royce Holi Celebration in Kolkata – A Slice of Vrindavan in the City of Joy

by Mar 27, 2021Festivals, India Festivals, Photostory17 comments

About this Blog: Kolkata, our city has its own share of secrets and surprises. Little did we know that a small part of Kolkata becomes as vibrant as Vrindavan during Holi. We found out about the Rolls Royce Holi celebration in Kolkata and decided to see what it was all about.

PS: This post is going to be a picture heavy post. We just could not decide which one not to put here!

Spring is a lovely season. As much as I love winters, I am quite fond of the colours and brightness of spring. And in India, spring is the season for celebration of Holi, one of the most important and colourful festivals of India. The beauty of the festival is in the different ways it is celebrated in various parts of the country. However, the essence remains the same. It is the “Festival of Colours”.

People playing with colours during Holi in India

While Holi in Vrindavan and Mathura is quite famous, West Bengal also celebrates Holi in its own ways. Basanta Utsav in Shantiniketan is a unique way of celebrating the festival of colours by using only dry colours (Abir or Gulaal).

Kolkata also has a special Holi celebration that we attended only last year. Known as the Rolls Royce Holi, it is celebrated in the Burrabazar area of Kolkata. As the name suggests, the festivities involve a vintage Rolls Royce! Through this travel blog, we have often shared a number of offbeat experiences and places. Rolls Royce Holi is one such experience that we had to share with you.

Vintage Rolsl Royce in Kolkata

Rolls Royce Holi in Kolkata

Holi celebration starts at Satyanarayan Jee Temple in Kalakar Street. On the 10th day of Falgun month (falls usually in the month of March). The deities are worshipped and then taken in a spectacular procession in the family-owned Rolls Royce. Along with the vintage car, there are also wooden chariots forming the part of the procession. It starts from the Satyanarayan Jee Temple, crosses the Howrah Bridge and passes through the Burrabazar area.

Rolls Royce Holi Procession crossing the Howrah Bridge Kolkata

The procession passes through Cotton Street, Mahatma Gandhi Road to Shri Ishwar Satyanarayanjee Temple at Mukharam Kanoria Road. The deities find their abode at this temple for a few days. Finally, on the day before Holika Dahan, the deities are brought back to the Satyanarayan Jee Temple in Kalakar Street. Well, the procession is quite an elaborate one.

Riot of colours during Holi celebration in Kolkata

Our Experience at Rolls Royce Holi in Kolkata

We happened to reach Kalakar Street on the day when the onward procession was to take place. The place was already crowded with a number of devotees. We could also see a large number of photographers who had come to chronicle the event.

A number of photographers at SatyanarayJee Temple at Kalakar Street to capture the Holi procession

The Rolls Royce was inside the temple premises and was decorated with flowers. A number of men and women were in front of the deities singing bhajans. At around 10.30 am it seemed that the car and the chariots were finally ready for the procession to begin.

Vintage Rolls Royce at Satyanaranjee Temple Kolkata

Gradually the Rolls Royce came out of the temple followed by a couple of wooden chariots. A number of people with various drums and cymbals were also following the car and the wooden chariots.

Rolls Royce Holi celebration in Kolkata
Start of the Rolls Royce procession from Kalakar Street, Kolkata

 The procession started with great pomp. We too followed the procession. In the meantime, everyone present started throwing Abir or Gulaal in the air. Soon we were on the Howrah Bridge following the Rolls Royce. Never had I thought before that I would be walking behind a vintage Rolls Royce on the Howrah Bridge. Life has unique ways to surprise us, huh!

Rolls Royce procession over Howrah Bridge during Holi

The procession continued through the Howrah Bridge and into the lanes of Burrabazar. The people, in the meanwhile, were throwing Abir all over. At one time, it was red all over and then suddenly it was yellow, pink and then violet. It was definitely a riot of colours everywhere. 

Painting the streets green during Holi

I saw the children were having the maximum fun. But the grown-ups were also in a perfect mood for revelry. They were playing drums and dancing like there was no tomorrow. 

Girls dancing during Holi

I always find Burrabazar a bit confusing with all its alleys and lanes. So I am not sure of the roads the procession took. We simply followed it. We were also coloured in different hues by the time. For a moment, it seemed that the Burrabazar in Kolkata had turned into Vrindavan! 

A riot of colours at Rolls Royce Holi in Kolkata - Burrabazar is looking like Vrindavan

With red, yellow, green, pink and blue everywhere, it was colours and colours everywhere. But no water colours were used. It was only dry colours. Colours were thrown down from the terraces of the buildings. At times, some were also throwing flowers all over. What an experience it was!

Photographers at Holi procession

We followed the procession for an hour before we decided to return back. By that time, we were also full of colours. Rolls Royce Holi was an experience in itself. That something of this nature happens in our city was not known to us. So yes, Kolkata keeps surprising us at every nook and corner.

Celebrating Holi in Kolkata

Other celebration of Holi in Kolkata

This is not the only special Holi celebration in Kolkata. There are a few other places where you can visit on Holi. In Kolkata, Holi is more commonly known as Basanta Utsav or the spring festival.

Holi at Jorasanko Thakurbari and Rabindra Bharati University

The tradition of Basanta Utsav or the welcoming of spring was first started by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore at Shantiniketan. On this day, the students of the university are dressed in yellow and dance to the songs of Rabindra Sangeet (songs written by Tagore).  At Jorasanko Thakurbari and Rabindra Bharati University, Basanta Utsav is celebrated in a similar manner.

Basanta Utsav Celebration in Shantiniketan

Holi at Sudder Street

Sudder Street is the area adjacent to Esplanade and New Market. It is the place preferred by most of the foreign tourists for stay in Kolkata. So you will see a lot of foreign tourist in the area. Here during Holi, the locals and foreigners play Holi together.

Colours of Holi

At Sudder Street you can see the energy, madness and excitement of Holi. This celebration is different from the previous ones. Water colours are used and if you are in the area on the day of the festival, you will inadvertently be drenched in the colours of madness. The celebration starts from early in the morning and continues till noon.

Basanta Utsav in other parts of West Bengal

Apart from Shantiniketan, Basanta Utsav or Holi is also celebrated with quite a spectacle at Baghmundi district of Purulia.

Holi is a festival of colour and joy. Usually, Holi in Kolkata and Shantiniketan is not as wild as in other parts of India. But for a couple of years, there has been news of certain incidents like molestation and rowdiness. If you are a part of the Holi celebration and somehow not feel comfortable because of some people, please let the police know. Or any and every person you see.

Enjoy the Festival of colours and stay safe!

The Holi procession at Burrabazar

More Pictures of Rolls Royce Holi in Kolkata to blind your eyes!

Rolls Royce moving through the lanes of Burrabazar
Holi celebration in Kolkata
Little girl playing Holi
Faces of Holi
Smearing colours on the face during Holi
Faces of Holi
Rolls Royce Holi procession
Flowers and colours during Holi in Kolkata
The lanes are filled with colour during Holi
Holi in India - the Festival of Colours
Throwing flowers at Rolls Royce Holi in Kolkata
Rolls Royce procession starting from Satyanarayan Temple at Kalakar Street
Rolls Royce decorated with flowers
Holi procession in Kolkata
Faces of Holi in Kolkata
A woman carrying Satyanarayan Deity
Blowing colours during Holi
We celebrating Holi!

Did you like the photographs and the post? What is your favourite festival? Do let us know in comments below.

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Rolls Royce Holi Celebration in Kolkata
Holi in Kolkata West Bengal Tourism
Agni & Amrita

Agni & Amrita

Travel Experts

We are Agni and Amrita, the story-telling team behind Tale of 2 Backpackers and partners in crime in travel and (mis)adventures of life. We have been travelling together for more than a decade looking for immersive experiences while enjoying the little beauties of life. We are intrigued by heritage, culture, festivals and people and that is reflected in our travel. And yes, we love the Himalayas too.

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17 Comments

  1. I love Holi in general, with all the colors and the chaos and festivities, especially the food and drinks. But I have never heard of Rolls Royce Holi! It’s a very interesting twist I must say. Seems like I should visit Kolkata during Holi some time and experience this. Looks like a lot of fun!

    Reply
  2. that is such a cool festival. I mean I have heard of holi before, but love the rolls royce being part of the show, gives the event a little more than throwing color around (which looks awesome BTW). I am wondering if that stuff hurts your eyes, at it has to get in there.

    Reply
    • Yes, Rolls Royce Holi is quite interesting. The colours do tend to get in your eyes. You just have to be a bit careful! 🙂

      Reply
  3. We’ve been wanting to visit Kolkata. It’s just so cultural and beautiful. We love the idea of this festival and all the fun vibes around. It actually reminds us of a similar festival in the Philippines called Sinulog where people go out on the streets and it’s very festive and colorful, you’re slathered in paint and colored powder.

    Reply
    • Thank you guys! Please do visit Kolkata. Know that you have a guide here! 🙂

      Reply
  4. I love love love your pictures. I kind of envy you for having caught them all in your lens. I would have enjoyed the opportunity myself. Such amazing captures of the celebration. Rolls Royce celebration adds such a different dimension to the already colorful festival. And it is a little offbeat. Kudos for having captured it so well!

    Reply
    • Thank you Ami. Capturing Holi pictures are tricky, we were so conscious of the camera all the time!

      Reply
  5. I would love to visit a place like this during Holi. I have never been to a huge celebration like this. I love Holi and I wish I can go to such celebrations some day. In Bangalore, we have a very small celebration but I will plan for this maybe next year.

    Reply
    • Holi is total madness here. Hope you experience a Holi like this next year!

      Reply
  6. Rolls Royce Holi looks so festive. Everyone was overjoyed. The more they covered with colors seemed to me they looked merrier. Now I wonder who clean the road after the celebration.

    Reply
    • Holi is total crazy here! As for cleaning up, both the locals and the Municipal Corporation does a decent job!

      Reply
  7. I never thought Holi could be this fun in Kolkatta. As you said Holi is really famous in Vrindavan and Mathura. Such a nicely captured pictures. Loved them. Would like to visit Kolkatta during Holi.

    Reply
    • Thank you, Saurabh! Kolkata has some hidden gems!

      Reply
  8. “Festival of Colors” looks outstanding, magical, and joyful! I would definitely like to welcome spring in India or another part of the world like this: throw colorful powder, eat sweets, and dance to traditional folk music. Your beautiful photos speak for themselves.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much!

      Reply
  9. Wow, Holi in Kolkata looks like an amazing amount of fun! So cool that you got to experience it, I’d love to attend one day. But will definitely be ready to take a shower afterwards!

    Reply
    • Yes, the shower is definitely mandatory after Holi! Also be prepared to have a colourful face even after a day or 2!

      Reply

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