Holi is the festival of colours, one of the most awaited festivals in the country and celebrated by Hindus all over the country. The festival is celebrated with much joy and vigour all across the country especially in North India. Holi is not just a festival; it’s a tradition which dates back millenniums. It’s one of those festivals that brings out the child in everyone.
The colourful festival of Holi spans over two days and marks the beginning of spring. On the first day, known as day of “Holika Dahan”, fire is lit marking the victory of truth over evil. The second day is “Phag”, when the actual Holi is celebrated with vibrant colours and water. The festival bridges gap between people of different communities and age groups and people hug each other while smearing each other’s face with paint.
The Legend of Holi
Hiranyakashyap’s who was a mighty demon who beat the gods and became the master of the universe. He had a son named Prahalad. Prahalad was hated by his father as Prahalad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, one of the most worshipped gods among Hindus.
Prahlad was confronted many times by his father for worshipping Vishnu. The king decided to kill Prahlad. Prahlad was thrown off a cliff, attacked by the king’s soldiers, crushed by elephants and many such antics were used by Hiranyakashyap but all these attempts failed. After many failing attempts, Hiranyakashyap thought of a master plan and called his sister Holika. Holika was blessed by gods in a way that she was immune to fire, that she wouldn’t get burned. Hiranyakashyap asked her to kill his child. Holika initially hesitated to kill Prahlad but agreed when forced. Holika held Prahlad in her lap and sat in the middle of fire.
As Holika was immune to fire, they thought it would be a perfect plan, and their motive would be fulfilled. But something unexpected unfolded. As Holika was using her power for evil, her power was taken away by the gods and she was burnt to ashes. Prahalad as always was unharmed who kept chanting the name of Vishnu. Vishnu protected his greatest devotee and Prahalad escaped unhurt.
Later, Vishnu killed Hiranyakashyap by appearing as Narsingh avatar and Prahlad was crowned as the king. Narsingh was half human and half Lion. Lord Vishnu had to appear in a Narsingh avatar as Hiranyakashyap was blessed by powers that he could not be killed by any human or animal or be killed in the sky or on land.
Holi is celebrated in March, every year. Though Holi is a Hindu festival, not much religious practices are attached with the festival. To celebrate the victory of good over evil, bonfires are lit on the first day of festival and a dummy of Holika is burnt.
The festival is welcomed by everyone in great spirits with a lot of singing and dancing involved. Holi is celebrated with much joy in North India and the Holi of Mathura is extremely famous. It starts a week before the actual festival and attracts enthusiastic people from far off places.
The morning of Holi is awaited by much anticipation especially by kids. They throw coloured water with water guns on their friends and family and some almost anyone. You will find youths (their face and hair drenched in colour and in almost unidentifiable state) on their bikes and open jeeps zooming around the cities. In the noon when everyone is done with colours, comes the time of food that has been specially prepared. People on this day usually have sweets and many even drink bhang (marijuana).
The festival of Holi is usually held around March. And the best place to visit during Holi is in Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna and Vrindavan where he spent this childhood, all of which can easily reached from Delhi. Holi is not particularly celebrated in South India.
Tips for playing Holi
- Wear old clothes.
- Use natural organic colours.
- Oil your hair with coconut, olive, mustard or castor oil so that colours do not stick and can be washed away easily.
- Protect your teeth. Getting rid of colours from the teeth is difficult.
- If you are travelling, keep your car windows shut. You might get someone throwing colours at you.
Those travelling to India will find Holi very interesting. It’s one of its kind! Due to large numbers of Indians living in the USA and Europe, Holi and Diwali have also become popular in the West. The date of the festival changes year after so you need to check if you wish to travel to India during Holi. This year’s Holi (2013) is on the Wednesday, March 27.
Video of people playing the festival of colour, in Delhi, India
Open your heart and enjoy. You will love Holi…