The whole India starts and ends Holi festival 2017 on March 12; people in Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, have started their Holi festival on February 1. Yes what you have read is correct. In Kullu, Holi festival is celebrated for 40 days, starting from Vasant Panchami. The festival starts with the Lord Raghunath’s chariot procession in Kullu.
As the whole country is going to celebrate Holi festival on March 12/13, Kullu has started celebration in advance. The 40-day Holi festivities started in Kullu on Basant Panchami as Lord Raghunath’s chariot’s was brought to Dhalpur Ground by thousands of devotees, who enjoyed the moment by throwing gulaal at each other.
History of making Holi a 40-day fest dates back to 1660 AD when the then Kullu’s Jagat Singh had brought the idol of Raghunath from Ayodhya and installed it at Sultanpur in Kullu. Since then, people gather at temple to apply gulal to Raghunath and celebrate the fest.
Thousands of people depicting Lord Hanuman flocked to Raghunath temple to apply colour to the idols of Lord Rama and Bharat, who were riding the chariot. Devotees pulled the chariot amidst the sounds of drum beats and trumpets. A huge crowd from the valley surrounded the chariot to pay obeisance to Lord Raghunath and Maheshwar Singh, who is the main chhadivardar (presiding priest).
Maheshwar Singh had reached Dhalpur sitting on a royal palanquin carried by four men and he then climbed on the chariot. While playing Holi with devotees, he said that the festival was being celebrated on a large for the last two years, otherwise, the chariot was only wheeled out during Dussehra festival once a year.
“Starting on the occasion of Basant Panchami, idol of Lord Raghunath would bath with colours till March 6 when entire country will celebrate Holi. Till then people in Vrindavan will apply gulaal to Lord Krishna and people of Kullu will apply colour to Lord Rama,” he said. Some tourists, too, witnessed the blend of Basant Panchami and festival of colours in Kullu.