Festivity is the center of Hindu Religion. As a matter of fact, every Hindu Festival involves some or other kind of celebration. Holi is one such ancient Hindu Festival, which recognizes that life is made of different colors of love, joy, enjoyment, and festivity. It is a spring festival and is also known as the festival of colors. It is not only celebrated in India but also in different parts of the world with equal enthusiasm.
Holi signifies the victory of good over evil and is celebrated on the day of Full Moon in Phalguna Poornima as per the Hindu calendar. It is typically celebrated in the month of March and sometimes in the month of February. It marks the arrival of spring and end of winter.
Holi celebrations start with “Holika” bonfire on the night before main Holi Celebration where people gather, sing, dance and party. The next day main celebrations start with carnivals of colors where people color each other with dry colored powder and colored water.
Here people celebrate Holi carrying colored water guns and colored water filled balloons. Rich or poor, young, or old, man or woman, children or elders, everyone participate in this festival of colors called Holi. There is the height of celebrations with groups carrying drums and musical instruments.
Singing and dancing occur in open streets, parks. People forget enmity and celebrate this festival with full enjoyment. Holi delicacies, food, and drinks are offered to each others. For example, there is a special Holi drink called “Bhaang” which is traditionally shared with each other. In the evening, people dress up and visit friends and family members.
Why is Holi celebrated?
Almost every Hindu festival has a symbolic legend to explain its history and significance.
Same goes with Holi.
Holi too has a symbolic legend to explain its significance.
Actually, the word “Holi” takes its origin from “Holika” which was the evil sister of the demon king called Hiranyakashipu. This demon king had earned a boon that he cannot be killed by anybody. This made him arrogant as he believed that he had become immortal as God. Moreover, he demanded worship from each and every citizen of his kingdom. He thought that he had become equivalent to God, the supreme being and so everyone should only worship him as God.
However, his son Prahlad was a pure and ardent devotee of God. He disagreed with what his father said and remained a devotee of God. He continued to worship Lord Vishnu and always praised Lord Vishnu before his father.
Prahlad’s devotion to God angered his father – the demon king Hiranyakashipu. He did not liked this attitude of Prahlad and subjected him to dangerous punishments in order to kill him.
However, Prahlad’s devotion won each time when his father gave him punishments. He continued to worship Lord Vishnu. This is even more infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He then decided to use his sister Holika in order to kill Prahlad. She sat on a pyre with Prahlad. She thought that Prahlad would be killed, as she was wearing a cloak that gave her immunity against fire.
However, as the fire roared the cloak flew from Holika’s neck and encased Prahlad. This protected Prahlad from fire and Holika got burned. Finally, Lord Vishnu appeared as Narasimha avatar and killed Hiranyakashipu.
From then onwards, the bonfire became a symbol of victory of good over evil. Prahlad devotion to Lord Vishnu teaches us that good are always victorious over evil. People then started the tradition of a bonfire in the form of “Holika Dahan”. Eventually, this tradition took an elaborate form and people began to use colored powder to celebrate the victory of good over evil as “Holi”.
Holi also finds a detailed description in Vedas and Puranas such as Narada Purana and Bhavishya Purana. It also finds a mention in Jaimini Mimansa. So, it comes out as an ancient Hindu Festival. A stone inscription found in the province of Vindhya at Ramgarh has mention of Holika
Utsav on it which is as old as 300 BC.
Besides these finding, Holi Celebrations are said to be celebrated since the period of Lord Krishna in the form of divine love between Radha and Lord Krishna. It has took to a grand celebration in the region of Braj in India where Holi is celebrated for more than a week. Holi also finds detailed coverage in ancient paintings and murals. For example, the temple at Hampi in Vijaynagar depicts joyous scenes of Holi.
Holi is a festival that diminishes the boundary between rich and poor. It has crossed boundaries and now is celebrated with equal enthusiasm in foreign countries. People forget differences between caste, color, race, and region and religion and come out to celebrate this festival of colors – Holi.
Wishing all my beloved readers A Very Happy and Colorful Holi!