Holi, the festival of colours, is a vibrant celebration that marks the last full moon in the month of Phalguna according to the lunar calendar. The festival is a time for people from all backgrounds to come together, chase each other with water guns, splash colours, and dance on the streets. It is a time to let loose and have fun, without the worry of judgment or prejudice. While the festival originated in India, it has been adopted around the world as a religious festival.
In Sangla, a small village in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh, Holi is not merely celebrated, but revered. It is part of the four-day Faguli festival, which is a colourful celebration of fertility, love, and the victory of good over evil. The village of Sangla is a magical land that has everything one could ever want, from the snow-capped mountains to picturesque views, and much more. It is a land of myriad cultures and traditions.
During the Faguli festival, locals prepare a dish called Totu, made using roasted barley flour and buttermilk, which is served as prasad. Oil lamps are lit, similar to Diwali, and the festival is in some ways a blend of the two most popular Hindu festivals. The unique traditions of Sangla include lots of booze, dancing, and nautanki (drama).
On the day of Holi, everyone gathers at Nag Mandir to take part in the celebrations according to local traditions. Men dress up as characters from the epic Ramayana, and the parade moves from one village to the other, with the characters performing fight scenes from the Ramayana and women performing local dances in a circle. People stop at rest points to have locally made Chilta (a bread made out of locally grown buckwheat) and sabzi, which is cooked in the open air. Special wine called Phasur is given out for free during the procession.
On Faguli’s second night, people gather around the pyre, dressed in traditional apparel, and dance and sing to celebrate Holika Dahan, to mark good over evil. Holi is more than just a festival here; it is a celebration of the people’s culture and tradition, celebrated in the most joyous manner possible. On the last day, people get decked up in their traditional attire and dance with the local deities in palanquins, performing Kinnauri Nati throughout the night, and painting the whole valley with their customs and traditions.
Sangla is the best place to experience Holi, as it is a unique and mind-blasting celebration of colours, traditions, and cultures. It is a time to invite blessings and announce the arrival of spring while weaving over the town’s cloudless skies with summer hues and colouring the mountains red and grass pink with the bright colours of Holi.