Holi in Indore

Festival of colours is here. Since ancient era, the festival is celebrated in Malwa region.

Since last three centuries, Holi is celebrated in Indore. The celebration began during Holkar era in late 18th century. Holkars were first to introduce this festival in the city. During that time, ‘Holika Dahan’ was done outside Rajwada Palace where all the citizens took part. It used to be celebrated with rituals in presence of Holkar family. After the celebration, people used to take the fire from the bonfire to lit their area’s Holika with it.

The Holkar family used to play Holi with natural colours inside Rajwada. Guests from neighboring states were also called for celebration.The festivals of Bhagoria and Rangpanchami are an important part of Holi celebrations in MP. Bhagoria is celebrated by tribes of Bhil and Bhilalas where God of Dance Bhagoradev is worshipped.

In Indore, Faag Yatra is organised on Rangpanchami from Bada Ganpati to Rajwada via Malharganj. People sing and dance, play with gulal and join the yatra.  In Rangpanchami, coloured water is sprinkled on main streets of old Indore. In old days, metallic pichkaries up to 20 feet long were used. Elephants and camels were used in ‘Shahi Yatra’ of Rangpanchami. At present, water tankers with electrical pichkari are used to sprinkle colours.

Holi kadaw, a big and wide metal utensil filled with natural colours were used those days.  People used to dip each other inside the kadaw,as these utensils were so big that the entire person gets in it. In some cases,due to head injury people died inside the kadaw. With time, this ritual faded.

Since that time favourite colours of Holi were ‘Gulal’ and ‘Kesaria’. The colours are traditionally made with mixture of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi,Bilva, and other medicinal herbs. Besides, there were many natural plant-based colours. Once, King Malhar Rao Holkar imported 17 kgs of sandalwood for Holika Dahan.

At that time, Holika Dahan’s salutation was done with 5 canons and 50 rounds of gun fire. The guests were welcomed with a gold-plated paan. Flowers were showered on special guests. To play Holi, the colors were placed on silver plates. Comedians, singers and musicians were called for entertainment. The King’s elephant was decorated at every celebration. This elephant was called ‘State Elephant’.

It is said that there was a woman named Kesari Kali in Holkar family. She was peeping out from window of the palace to watch Holika Dahan celebration and at the same time Scindia warrior Sardar Kashirao saw her. Because of this, the king had given him a death penalty and his head was burnt with Holika on that day.

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