Holi is ‘played’ in most parts of India. But the festival is ‘sung’ in a part of Assam, where it goes by another name of Doul Utsav.
- The wellspring of the festival at Barpeta in western Assam is Barpeta Satra, a Vaishnav monastery that Madhabdev established in 1583.
- Madhabdev was the prime disciple of Srimanta Sankardeva, the saint-reformer who inspired the Bhakti movement in Assam around the time Guru Nanak, Kabir and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu did elsewhere in India.
- Madhabdev wrote a few Doul songs such as Faku khele karunamoy (The Lord full of compassion plays Holi) and Dolai Gobinda paramanande (Krishna plays Holi blissfully) for ritualistic celebration of the festival.
- The songs by the trading community is sung in the celebration of colours were influenced by Bengal’s folk music.
- More than a century ago, a group of nationalist poets, writers and musicians began writing Assamese Holi songs. As their music became popular, the Bengali-influenced songs disappeared.