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The festival of colours, Holi is one of the most enjoyable occasions of the year in India, marking the arrival of spring. Tied to an array of stories from Indian mythology, Holi is celebrated in many names and traditions across the country, making it a phenomenally rich cultural festival. This Holi, go colourful, choosing from the plethora of traditional handmade designs that the Indian palette has to offer.
The celebration of Basant Utsav was initiated by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore, at his institution Shantiniketan and has become a milestone in Bengali history ever since. The students play Rabindra Sangeet and host cultural performances, dressing up in yellow, signifying spring. The visitors are greeted with a warm welcome, and everyone is free to be part of the merry-making. In addition to the Basant Utsav celebrations, Holi is also marked in Bengal with the Dol Purnima, celebrated similarly in Odisha.
The Kantha Stitch Saree, from the weavers of Bolpur, Shantiniketan is adorned with intricate handmade embroidery and traditional floral patterns, in bright colours for a design that is quintessential, with a touch of contemporary.
Celebrated along the coastal districts of Odisha, Dola Purnima is marked with the “Dola yatra” which involves carrying around a palanquin with the idols of Krishna and Radha, dancing to the beats of drums and smearing of colours.
The Sambalpuri cotton sari, handmade by the weavers from Bargarh cluster in Odisha, using the ikat technique features rudraksha borders and floral motifs making it a remarkably vibrant piece.
Celebrated as Rang Panchami in Madhya Pradesh, the festivities go on for five days and are marked with exuberant processions, dousing everyone on the streets with coloured water and special dances by the fisher folk.
One of the best-known handloom clusters in the country, the sarees from the weavers of Chanderi are exquisite with their rich tones and sheer elegance complimented by zari motifs & rich gold borders.
Among the Dravidian states, Andhra Pradesh is most noticeable for its celebration of Holi with the usual color play and burning of the pyre along with the singing of folklore music. The Banjara gypsy tribe of Andhra perform their traditional graceful dances to mark the occasion.
The Madhavaram sari handmade by the weavers of Madhavaram, is adorned with colorful stripe borders and pallu for a rich authentic feel.
Hampi, the magnificent ruins of the Vijayanagar empire, recognized as a UNESCO world heritage site, turns magical on Holi with colourful skies and people turned canvases. The foreign tourists also partake in the festivities with the locals, which includes splashing colours, dancing to drum beats, followed by a refreshing dip in the Tungabhadra river.
The ilkal sarees of Karnataka, from the weavers at Shri Shakambari are handwoven using unique and ancient weaving techniques and vibrant red pallu with topi teni technique celebrating a proud cultural heritage.
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As the world moves indoors, in a coordinated effort to carry out social distancing, we've begun to see and hear remarkable things around us. There's the sky above, now bluer than ever before, the excited chirps and chitter-chatter of birds and squirrels and a sense of prevailing calm.