Holi 2022: What Is 'Dol Jatra' In West Bengal And How Is It Different From Holi?

Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima is celebrated on a full moon day, and the festival is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It often coincides with the day of the north-Indian festival of Holi.

Legend of Lord Krishna and Radha and Dol Jatra

West Bengal on Friday celebrated Dol Jatra with great fervour leaving behind the aloofness due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People from all age groups came out in the streets in large numbers and smeared 'gulal' or 'aabir' on each other. Children cheerfully sprinkled coloured water on the passers-by, which they greeted with affection. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took to social media to greet people on the occasion.

"Heartiest Dol Jatra greetings to all. May the majestic festival of diverse colours bring happiness, peace, joy and prosperity in all of us. May the spirit of diversity, amity and equality inspire us," she tweeted. Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also greeted people on the occasion.

"Wishing all a very Happy Holi. May this festival of colours, a symbol of mutual love, affection and brotherhood splash colour of happiness and satisfaction in your life and inspire all to make lives of others colourful," he tweeted.

So what is Dol Jatra?

Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima is celebrated on a full moon day, and the festival is dedicated to Lord Krishna. It often coincides with the day of the north-Indian festival of Holi or the day before and is celebrated in a similar fashion in states like West Bengal, Assam, Odisha and parts of other states. The day also marks the last festival of the year as per the Bengali calendar.

With the celebration of the festival, people give a warm welcome to the spring season. On this day, people get together and share joyous moments, and also drink 'bhang'. 

While both Holi and Dol symbolise the same festival, both follow different legends of Holi, as per Hindu mythology. 

While Holi is based on the legend of Prahlad, an incarnation of Vishnu, in north India, Bengali Dol revolves around Krishna and Radha. Krishna too is an incarnation of Vishnu. Dol begins on the day after a full moon night in Phalgun, (a month in the Bengali calendar) in Vrindavan. According to legend, it was on this day that Krishna first expressed his love for Radha by throwing 'Phag' (powdered colour akin to gulaal) on her face while played on a swing with her 'sakhis'. The word Dol literally means swing. After the putting of colour, the sakhis celebrate the moment of union by carrying the duo around on a palanquin - meaning jatra (journey). Thus Dol Jatra was started. 

Even today, traditional Bengali Dol Jatra is played with dry colours. 

Dol and Holi 

Holi, on the other hand, is based on the legend of Holika and her nephew Prahlad. The latter is the son of demon king Hirannakashipu. Hollika, who was the demon king's sister, and the proverbial even 'buaa' (fraternal aunt), decided to kill Prahlad, who was devoted to his father. hoping her own powers of dark magic will save her, Hollika decided to jump in a fire with baby young Prahlad. However, due to her evil intentions, Hollika burned to death while Prahlad, who was pure of heart, survived the fire. To mark the legend, even to this day, pyres of wood are set up and burnt ahead of Holi as 'Hollika Dahan' (Hollika burning) to symbolise the festival.

While Dol celebrates the love between Radha and Krishna, the north-Indian Holi marks the power and victory of good over evil. 

(With inputs from PTI)