Holi – Festival of Colors

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.

Holi in India

Holi in India

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.

Holi colours sold in the market

Holi colours

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.

Celebrating Holi

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…

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116 Responses to “Holi – Festival of Colors”

  1. What a lovely write-up on Holi Shalu!

    It is indeed the festival of color and the time when everyone just drowns in these awesome colors of love forgetting all their age old enemies :)

    We all are certainly looking forward to the 27th, more so the kids who have real fun with their friends. Oh yes…I remember those different type of guns and various colors – not to mention those grease paints etc. that kids would ask for when they were young. But I’m glad they are past that phase and play it more like us adults now. However, playing with the dry colors is more environment friendly and if they are natural colors – all the more better for your skin as well.

    I agree with your tips of oiling your hair and even the exposed parts of the body as you never know who is using what kind of color on you – so need to be careful. Yes, wear old clothes, though some people like wearing all whites as the colors come out vibrant on white :) We never travel during Holi because of the scare and also because for festivals one prefers being home.

    Ah…the Bhang and playing cards that carry on well late at night are something people love too. Lovely videos too. :) Enjoyable post overall, and here’s wishing you Happy Holi – well in advance too. :)

    Thanks for sharing. :)
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    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Harleena, I too remember those colour pistols, believe it or not, I still use them. I too prefer the dry colours as removing the water colours is a nightmare.
      I agree about travelling around Holi time, there are always some people doing some mischievous things.
      Thank you for your comment.
      Best wishes.
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    • Josh says:

      This looks like a ton of fun, wish I could be there!

  2. reeja says:

    Nice pics and awesome videos shalu
    nice presentation about our indian festival
    loved it cheers
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  3. Janit says:

    Holi is one of the most enjoyable of Indian festivals. It marks the onset of summer. And, nowadays also the IPL.:-)
    The post rekindles some really fantastic childhood memories of playing on Dhuleti and praying on Holi.
    Thanks for sharing Shalu.
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  4. Muzamal says:

    hey guys very nice information about holy.. i have more then 20 friends in your culture. thanks for sharing this great information for us keep it up.

  5. Michael Belk says:

    Shalu, I love this. It looks like a lot of fun. It seems like India has many cultural events. I guess I am not surprised. Especially since you guys are so culture focused.

    I would blend right on in with this. I would be dancing my butt off. It looks like freestyle dancing, which is my favorite.
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    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Michael, there are lots of festivals in India and Holi is one of fun ones. You will like it. Dancing is always freestyle.

      I think Holi is also now popular in the USA where there is sizeable Indian population. One of the video is from the USA.
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  6. We have heard a lot about this festivals and hope fully we will attend this time in india..

  7. Siya says:

    Holi is a India festival, which show’s culture of India. & There is also historical story behind celebration holi.
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  8. Anil Bhogia says:

    Holli is colorful festival. that day every man appear the colorful.some people drank that day.group of friends are gossip.so happy atmosphere four directions.
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  9. Ashutosh says:

    I love Holi. it is a great and colourful festival of Indians.Every Indian enjoy it.Holi make us happy.Happy Holi
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  10. harish says:

    wowwwwwww holiiii . holi is my favorite festival..its festival of joy and fun..and gujia,,
    i like your post about the holi .and i appreciate the points and tips you mention above.we should play holi with natural organic colors and water..

  11. Deepak Mehra says:

    I always look forward to Holi. I love it. I cant wait this year.

  12. beautiful festival, I would love to take part in next edition of it :)

  13. Sapna says:

    Hi Shalu jee,

    Great share!

    I love this day because of the colors and enjoy this day to the max. Waiting to celebrate this day with my friends and hope to make this special as most of the friends will be having an extended weekend this time.

    Thanks for this share Shalu jee. Have a great week ahead.

    Sapna
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  14. I have always loved to see the colors being sprayed on others rather than having fun being splashed myself… :)
    You have covered the essence of Holi so well in your blog post.
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  15. christina says:

    Nice article with nice pictures. I wasn’t aware about Indian festival. I hear this name ! I just search for “Holi” Google just show me Wednesday, March 27 mean it’s about to celebrate very soon.

  16. Shalu, Holi is definitely not my favorite Indian festival.I am terrified of venturing out of my house on Holi.

    Holi in Mumbai has become a terror for many, especially women. The usual trend is to fill up water balloons with dangerous stuff that can destroy your vision and lead to other health effects and throw it at unsuspecting people (read women) from building terraces and hide-outs.

    Working women who travel by local trains also describe how the balloons start raining on them, a good 8-10 days before the actual Holi festival.

    This is done to ensure that the women do not escape these goon attacks, because Holi is a national holiday and very rarely do people attend work on this day.

    And the weirdest part is that the residents of jhuggis (situated on the either side of the railway tracks) also throw stones, glass pieces and bulbs at moving trains.

    The local (Mumbai) newspapers are filled with Holi-related accidents, deaths and hospitalizations for at least 2 days after the celebrations are over.
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    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Hi Kavita
      You know, I have heard of these stories as well where some people throw mud and stones on passing trains. This is unacceptable behaviour. Its really sad about the Holi related incidents.
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
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  17. Holi…..

    I am not a great Fan of holi because people usually drink a lot and put color forcefully on others face that is not good but best part is we get lots of home made snacks on this day.

    It is so famous in India that Movies that release around March (usually Holi lies in March Month) have songs about Holi – It help them to give a great start of Movie release.
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  18. Vivek Baghel says:

    Holi is my one of the favorite India festival, Holi is colorful festival & there is also one intresting story to celebrate holi of The Legend of Holika & Prahlad

  19. Deepak Mehra says:

    Hi,

    There is no doubt holi is the festival of colour. It celebrate with joy and with colour. All the people who belongs with different cast and different location meet each other and hug. i am so exited of incoming holi.

    Thanks for share with me!!
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    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Deepak
      I agree, Holi crosses all boundaries of caste and religion too.
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      • actually on Holi we can’t recognize any face. Its happened wid me on this holi. I was just going for lunch and suddenly some guys came and with in 2 minutes i was painted with multi shades. i was surprised and hppy also. Surprised bcoz they were calling me Rohit.. :O :) . I said, Rohit ????
        hahahahaha…… i said its fine. thnx for celebrate the holi with me. Lets play holi and i forget about lunch… :) it was really awsm.. and now those guys are my frnds..!!

  20. Adrienne says:

    Hi Shalu,

    Well thanks for sharing this tradition and history lesson with us. That was so interesting.

    My first thought is man, that’s really messy! I hope when they do all this celebrating like in the video that it’s all done outside. But they look like they’re having a really great time and that’s all that matters right!

    ~Adrienne
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  21. Very informative article on Holi. Given that Holi is just round the corner, the information should provide an insight into the festival to people from outside the country.
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  22. Amit says:

    colorful indian festival. india is the country of festivals. holi is one of the most popular festival.

  23. Ivaan Shah says:

    Hi Shalu

    When we heard about holi,we always think about the past when we have enjoyed this colorful festival. But now I feel craze to celebrate the holi is becoming less. The tolerance power of people is not much.

    Ivaan

  24. Peter Lee says:

    I went to India last year and luckily I had the opportunity to enjoy this festival in Mathura. The color unitied people into one and there was no difference left. Anyone would love this festival as people. You will find them throwing all sorts of color, water and even flowers at people. I really loved this game.

  25. I always hide in holi! the colors always stay on the skin and after teenage..i think I ahve outgrown it..but yeah wanna experience holi in vraj :)
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  26. Megan says:

    This sounds like a lot of fun! I hope I get to experience it one day!
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  27. Hi Shalu,

    I’ve never heard about such festival, but it seems like a lot of fun, and those colors are so bright.

    I’m sure there are lots of legends in India which are a good excuse to celebrate still to this day. It’s the same thing in France, as a matter of fact.

    Thank you for this cultural information.

    ~Sylviane
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  28. Sue Neal says:

    Hi Shalu,

    Like Sylviane, I’ve never heard of this festival, so thanks very much for sharing it with us – it sounds (and looks, from your pictures!) absolutely amazing.

    Sue
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  29. Nice article, thanks for the information. There was very interesting place for us to visit. Hope next year we will be there.

  30. Lalitha says:

    Holi is celebrated by throwing brightly colored powder (gulal) and water over each other. The festival is full of colors and I would suggest you to experience it.

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  31. Holi makes me very excited. This is not only festival of colors but also a festival of love. I love Holi because at this time of year I get a chance to meet my all old friend at my hometown. I really enjoy this festival and I believe in dry holi because you can easily wash off the colors and also prevent use of water in excess. Bhang is also a good part of this festival. I am going to apply 3 days leave so that I can go to my hometown and enjoy this festival. Happy holi to you in advance.
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    • Shalu Sharma says:

      Hey Sailesh
      That’s good. Holi is about meeting friends and people you don’t normally meet during the year. Holi is very social. I hope you enjoy your Holi and let us know how you got along. Thank you for your comment.
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  32. Great post…This time playing holi will be a lot more fun with your holi tips…
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  33. Ankit from android says:

    I certainly love this festival. i am waiting for 27th March eagerly
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  34. Rupali says:

    I love to play Holi but only with water. At this day my all friends comes and do a lot of fun. muma makes gungia and pakoras.
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  35. Dheeraj Jain says:

    Hello ma’am, this is an great article. Now I am more eagerly waiting for this colorful fest. Thanks for showing colorful India in a very beautiful way.
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  36. It must be fun joining on this festival. I wanna try visiting India during this festival.
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  37. Veronica from back yard renovation says:

    Now that’s one festival I’d love to witness and take part in this year. I just love camaraderie, and I really don’t mind being smeared with paint as long as it’s fun.

  38. Holi Colors Shopping says:

    Hello Shalu this is an nice article.
    You can Online colors from Shoplik.com
    Thanks and Happy Holi in advance

  39. Joy from security of payment says:

    This is like dodgeball with paintballs. I imagine the fun that the locals have during the festival. I hope I could hop on a plane to India one of these days just in time for the feast of colors.

  40. I believe the fact, this is enough time when IPL is around the area. You know I am starting to range myself from cricket as there is no much of it.

  41. Srikanth says:

    Hi Ma’am
    After 2 i have read the story of Holi.Prahalad was really a great devotee of vishnu.Holi is a festival which adds colors to our life.Playing holi with friends,family,and others will definitely makes our holi celebrations touches high!! Thanks For Sharing about holi ma’am!!
    ~Srikanth
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  42. Calra from bali hut says:

    I may not have Indian heritage but I would surely love to celebrate along them. I’ve noticed that Indian festivals are always colorful and If I had the chance to visit India in the future, I’d like to witness this event myself.

  43. Emilia from sell used guns says:

    India is on my list for my much-awaited Asian tour. I will definitely look forward to this festival when I visit. Looks very exciting. Thanks for sharing.

  44. Jgar says:

    i always thought this to be one of the most weird festivals and it reminded me of the “The Tomatina Festival” in spain but now i can see the difference between both of them…
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  45. Aleah says:

    I will be observing it this year in Varanasi. Can’t wait!
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  46. Aditya Singh says:

    Nice Post. I love This festival HOli. But This i can’tt play bcaz my exam are going. Feeling Bad For that.
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  47. sai says:

    Holi is My favourite festival i can enjoy by gathering with friends
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  48. Chetan from Digital Marketing Blog says:

    When is Holi in 2013? I am eagerly waiting for fun and masti :D
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  49. Sandy says:

    Happy Holi.Love this festival. would like to suggest all buddies that use organic colors so that it can’t harm your skin.

  50. Holi is truly the most enjoyable festival for all age groups Holi HAI!!!
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  51. Jendri says:

    I love how India has lots of cultural events. That probably reaffirms why it’s also one of the oldest civilizations.

    I hope I get to see Holi when I visit India next year.
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  52. Osho Garg says:

    Hello Shalu,

    If we tell about all Indian culture – Holi will be in the top position. There will be no other fun as holi festival. It is amusing sometimes embarrassing too. For example, you wear a good cloth & going outside with your car. But suddenly from no where holi color fell on your cloth as well as car.

    Still holi day is a festive mood in Indian culture :)
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  53. hiren says:

    What a beautiful description of this colorful festival!! It’s good to read about traditional stories and legends associated with holi.
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  54. bong from lagunabatangasresorts.com says:

    Coming from the Philippines, a country that hosts hundreds of festivals yearly, it’s really nice to see how wonderful and colorful India’s festivals are.

  55. Ashi says:

    Hi Shalu Mam
    Well In India two festivals much importance. Deewali and Holi.
    Both are amazing. One is played in the day light and other is light in the dark.
    I like Both festivals. Love to play with friend while on bikes and go on other places.
    Thanks for the update.
    Keep up good work
    :)
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  56. Car Rental Trivandrum says:

    Hi Webmaster,Your blog is providing very valuable information about India culture such as Holi.Love to play with friend. Again another new and update post. Thanks for sharing valuable information.
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  57. Aditya says:

    Beautifully Explained & well written.

    I must say it was indeed a good read. i love Holi but my skin hates it so i cant enjoy this day as everyone does
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  58. Gally says:

    Thanks for letting me know such an amazing festival exists :). Would love go there and take part in it.
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  59. Rohit says:

    Holi is just awesome. I love this festival alot. This festival of Colours i.e Happy Holi is one favorite festival among people of India. Must check this out. Definitely love this festival too.
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  60. Ahana says:

    Holi, the festival of colors and of course, the water. I love holi and I love playing with Gulal, but this wastage of water is just not my kind of thing.I wish everyone a safe and happy Holi.
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  61. Pawan says:

    Holi is my favourite festival. I love holi.Such a colorful festival. Thanks Shalu for such an amazing post.

  62. Holi Messages 2014 says:

    Holi is awesome festival. Full of colors Just Love it…

  63. Nice informative post … Holi is my one of the best festival.. in this post i like tips which you give for playing holi. good info..
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  64. Nice informative post … Holi is my one of the best festival.. in this post i like tips which you give for playing holi.
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  65. Pooja says:

    This is also a very good post which I really enjoyed reading.

  66. Agness says:

    I absolutely love this festival. Although I have never made it to India myself, I watched it on TV and read so many great articles about it on various travel websites and blogs. It’s so much fun!

  67. Mi Muba says:

    Wonderfully explained post; I think Holi maybe once a religious festival but now it has become a cultural or I would say a global festival. I live here in Karachi Pakistan and cover a long distance to join my Hindu friends living in a remote town to enjoy Holi with them. Two safety measures we must adopt while enjoying it.
    We must avoid chemical based colors
    We must be in our limits which means never bother someone.
    Once again thanks a lot for writing on such a festive event
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  68. The Holi festival in India is a very beatiful festival. I have been der once during this festival, it was just, but really just very amazing! Would go again if I could!

  69. Listice says:

    No one ignore the enjoyment of this colorful festival. Holi is amazing and people came to India from every corner of world to celebrate this function.

  70. Holi is quite popular festival of India and people specially come from abroad to celebrate this festival. Thanks for sharing the reason behind holi celebrations as this will help in promoting our rich culture.
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  71. Abhishek says:

    Holi is a popular festival in india and i am also waiting and love this festival bcoz i love Bhangand playing with Gulal. any ways thanks for sharing a wonderful information.
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  72. Holi is the best festival for me but some people were using it in a wrong way. Holi is a festival of colors so it should be enjoyed joyfully.

  73. Mahendra says:

    Hello Shalu,
    This is my first comment to this site. I really like the festival holi. I am a student living in hostels with friends and holi in hostels specially in boys hostels is really weird and a rough and tough type. We used to make sure that every person should be wet and colored. Nice to read you Shalu.
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  74. Paul says:

    Holi is really one of the most funny festival I have seen. One interesting thing is, its hard to recognize people, anyway nice post
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  75. I'm Altamash says:

    Holi is really nice festival but only If played by with care & love! It’s disappointing when something wrong happens. Otherwise It’s a very enjoying festival.

  76. Yes,really enjoyed a lot on holy,even though water is wasted the fun will be at peaks but water and colours must be used carefully!!!!!

  77. I really wanted to join on this festival. This looks like a lot of fun.

  78. This is a fascinating story. What I always find astonishing is that the Greek gods perished, replaced first by the Roman pantheon, then later by Christianity. Their potentially equally colourful stories have largely been lost to posterity (and were expurgated by Christian missionaries). But the Hindu religion has managed to stay alive and well for an even longer period than the former two and has preserved, as far as I know, most of its traditions intact and it actually is still observed by its followers as a matter of course.
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  79. Paul says:

    The Holi festival is something that I have been learning quite a bit about recently from studying it online, and it is something that has really caught my interest. I love Indian culture, and think that this festival really embodies it so well. I love the way you have described the festival in this post, it really makes me want to go there and sample if for myself all the more. I think this will have to be something that I do next year

  80. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to experience Holi. Knowing how wonderful & colourful India’s festivals are, Holi is most definitely on my To Do list as it sure looks like it’s a lot of fun!
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  81. ukash al says:

    hey guys very nice information about holy.. i have more then 20 friends in your culture. thanks

  82. Tushar says:

    Holi is one of my favorite festival and this year I spent about 10 days celebrating Holi festival in Vrindavan, Barsana, Dauji and nearby tourist location. Till date my toenails are colored and it is almost one month.

  83. Holi is admittedly one in all the foremost funny pageant I even have seen. One fascinating factor is, its laborious to acknowledge folks, anyway nice post.
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  84. shabarish says:

    Awesome Article. Explained Well about Holi. One thing is that It Would Be great if holi is complusary in south india
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  85. Vivek Jain says:

    It’s really a lovely and decent writing on Holy Festival.

    Beautifully Explained & well written.

    I must say it was indeed a good read. i love Holi but my skin hates it so i cant enjoy this day as everyone does.
    But yeah! across the India in the United kingdom, It will become one of the best festivals in UK very soon. They love this festival so much!

    Thanks again for this explained guide on Holi!
    Vivek Jain recently posted..Best Festivals UK | List of Top Festivals in UKMy Profile
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  86. amit says:

    Thanks for sharing this information on your blog.I like it very much.

  87. Hitesh says:

    holi and diwali are my fav. festivals. i liked your article very much

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