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