Holi is one of the most celebrated festivals in the country and is probably the only festival that brings different communities together in one place. The festival is typically celebrated in March, on the full-moon day of 'Phalgun', marking the onset of spring and the end of winter. During this time, people play with an assortment of colors, visit each other's houses, prepare an array of delicious food and bridge all social gaps by becoming one with the spirit of the festival. In all parts of the country, the festival is a popular occasion with adults and children, galore. The entire nation takes part in this event irrespective of creed and race. A tradition of the spring rites, Holi has been celebrated since time immemorial. Some legends state that is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil, others state that is celebrated to commemorate the undying love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Days before the actual festival begins, people start preparing for the various rituals and customs for Holi. In most communities, Holi is celebrated over a period of 2 days, in some 5 and some 16. If you want to learn more about Holi celebrations, scroll down.
Celebration of Holi Festival
There are various legends associated with the origins of Holi but the most important one of them all is the myth of the demon king, Hiranyakashyap and his devout son, Prahlad. It is believed that Hiranyakashyap's subjects feared and worshipped him. However, his son refused to worship the demon king and worshipped Lord Vishnu, instead. This angered the demon king and he ordered his sister, Holika, to take Prahlad and sit in a burning pyre. Holika was a given a boon, wherein she would not be harmed by fire. However, when the duo sat in the pyre it was Holika reduced to ashes and it was Prahlad who was miraculously unharmed, due to his devout worship to Lord Vishnu. Thus, on the eve of Holi every year, a bonfire is lit and the people sing, dance and chant around the fire and celebrate the victory of good over evil. The embers are then taken back home and domestic fires are lit in order to welcome spring.
Playing With Colors
The following morning is probably the most awaited aspect of Holi every year. Children and adults, either prepare their own colors at home, or buy them and celebrate the arrival of Holi by playing with loose, colored powder or in the form of water colors. People romp around dunking friends and relatives in mud-pools and drench them in water colors with the use of the traditional 'pichkari' or water gun. Many people also celebrate a dry Holi, where minimal or no water is used. Props such as water balloons, color foams and water guns are extremely popular with the children on this day.
Dance, Music & Food
In India, Holi is incomplete without the boisterous dancing and intoxicating music. To further enhance the festive spirit of the Holi celebrations, people have a social sanction to get a kick with the tradition of 'bhaang' (an intoxicating drink made with milk, almonds and a secret heady ingredient!). There is total liveliness with people dancing to the traditional dholak, or more recently, the boom box and to traditional folk songs in groups and twos. Food forms an essential part of Holi and is considered a major fuel for all the excitement and the energy on the day of the festival. In the midst of all these exciting activities, the women of the house prepare mouth-watering delicacies such as 'Gujjias', 'Malpua', 'Dahi Vadas' and 'Gol Gappas', which are usually downed with full glasses of 'Thandai' or 'Bhaang'.
In many parts of the country, people also form human pyramids and break pots of buttermilk and as soon as the pots are broken, the womenfolk throw buckets of colored water on them, sing folk songs and dance!
Visiting Friends & Relatives
After a day of excitement, the days winds to a close with a visit to friends or relatives houses. People exchange gifts and convey their wishes to one another. During this time, games and light activities are arranged such as group-singing activities or Holi meets that go on till late at night.
Holi, thus, concludes with a lot of fun-filled activity and in some places, these celebrations even continue for a week or more! Hope this article familiarizes you with Holi celebrations.
Holi is the celebration of colors. It signifies the colors of life and their importance in our life.