Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the Hindu luni-solar calendar month marking the spring, making the date vary with the lunar cycle.
The festival has many purposes; most prominently, it celebrates the beginning of Spring. In 17th century literature, it was identified as a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. To many Hindus, Holi festivities mark the beginning of the new year as well as an occasion to reset and renew ruptured relationships, end conflicts and rid themselves of accumulated emotional impurities from the past.
Holi; Playing with colors
Holi frolic and celebrations begin the morning after the Holika bonfire. There is no tradition of holding puja (prayer), and the day is for partying and pure enjoyment. Children and young people form groups armed with dry colors, coloured solution and water guns (pichkaris), water balloons filled with colored water, and other creative means to colour their targets.
People walk through their neighbourhoods to celebrate Holi by exchanging colours and spraying coloured water on one another. A popular activity is the throwing of water balloons at one another, sometimes called lola (meaning water balloon). Many people mix bhang in their drinks and food, as is also done during Shivaratri. It is believed that the combination of different colours at this festival takes all sorrow away and makes life itself more colourful.
Story behind Holi…
Holi’s different celebrations come from various Hindu legends, although one is widely believed to be the most likely origin. In it, the celebration’s name refers to Holika, the sister of the Hindu demon king Hiranyakashipu. The demon king was granted immortality with five powers:
- He could be killed by neither animals nor humans
- He could be killed neither indoors nor outdoors
- He could be killed neither during the day nor at night
- He could be killed on neither land, water nor air
- He could be killed by neither projectile nor handheld weapons
When his immortality turned him evil and he began to kill anyone who disobeyed him, his son, Prahlad, decided to kill him. When the king found out, he asked his sister Holika for help; in their plan she would wear a cloak which stopped her from being harmed by fire and take Prahlad into a bonfire with her.However the cloak flew from Holika’s shoulders while she was in the fire and covered Prahlad; he was protected but she burnt to death.
In the legend, the Lord Vishnu then appeared to kill Hiranyakashipu by sidestepping his five powers. He took the form of Narasimha, who was half-human and half-lion; he met him on a doorstep, which is neither indoors nor outdoors; he appeared at dusk, which is neither daylight nor dusk; he placed his father on his lap, which is neither land, water nor air; and he attacked him with his lion claws, which are neither projectile nor handheld weapons. While Hiranyakashipu and Holika came to represent evil, Vishnu and Prahlad came to represent good. The story shows the victory of good over evil, which is why it is tied to the festival. The other most popular origin of the festival is the legend of Krishna. The Hindu deity, embarrased by his dark blue skin, told his mother he was worried his love Radha would not accept him. She told him to colour Radha’s face whatever colour he wanted; when he did, they became a couple.
Holi photographs from last year!
“Hope the canvas of your life is painted with beautiful colors. Wishing you a very very happy Holi to you, your friends and family!”