Kumaon is celebrating the festival of colours as the world gets set for welcoming the New Year. The Baithki Holi, which literally means ‘sitting Holi’, is a traditional celebration that begins on the first Sunday of the month of Paush. It started on December 21 this year in places like Nainital, Haldwani, Champawat, Pithoragarh and Ranikhet and will continue till one week before Holi begins in the rest of the country.
Baithki Holi, incidentally, is quite a musical affair. It offers people of these distant hills an opportunity to come together and sing songs which enhances the feeling of being a part of the community and brightens up the chilly evenings in the mountains. "Every evening, a group of 10-20 men sit together and sing classical ragas in our club over chai and sweets", said Shivcharan Pandey, secretary of the Shri Laxmi Bhandar Hukka Club of Almora which has been celebrating Baithki Holi for more than 100 years now.
Opinion is a bit divided on when the festival actually began. Pandey claims that the Holi was initiated about 150 years back when Ustad Amanat Husain of Rampur came to Almora and began singing classical songs here. Historians, though, believe that the Holi started during the period of the Chand dynasty in the 13th century. "Oral history tells us that in the 13th century, a king of the Chand dynasty began this tradition by asking Muslims and Sufi singers to sing songs on Holi to bring warmth to the severe winter", said Daya Pant, professor of history at Kumaon University.
Notwithstanding when it began, the Holi celebrations are an important occasion in the Kumaoni calendar. Every evening during this season, when temperatures are sharply edging towards the zero mark and roads become empty as early as six in the evening, chorus of songs of Radha-Krishna, nirvan, bhakti and rang are heard in neighbourhoods.
Musical gatherings are as much a social affair as a religious one. At the beginning of the celebrations, colour is applied on the forehead of the singers and listeners. The ‘baithak’ then warms up slowly with the evening soirees extending well onto midnight. Songs are sung in Jungla Kaphi, Shyam Kanyan, Bihag, Bageshree, Jayjay Wanti, Pilu and Bharavi notes. Compositions are rendered in Hindi as well as Kumaoni.
src : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/dehradun/Kumaon-celebrates-Holi-as-rest-of-country-ushers-in-New-Year/articleshow/45707935.cms