What comes to one’s mind when they are asked to describe “Holi”, the festival of Colors? A day full of Happiness and countless shades, A day Celebrated to remember the Triumph of Good over Evil, A day where everyone regardless of age, gender, or social status, comes together to play and rejoice in the air of contentment and Euphoria.
There are a dozen more ways to describe this day and still, it would be tough to bring justice to its meaning. It is not merely a festival, Holi is an Emotion. On this day, people meet each other and exchange hearty greetings and continue the festivities by Playing together with Colors.
Holi is celebrated at the end of the Winter Season and it marks the start of spring. According to the Hindu culture, it is celebrated on the last Full moon day of the Luni Solar Calendar Month. Generally, according to the Gregorian calendar, it comes in Feb-March each year.
Description of the Festivities
Holi is celebrated throughout the country, but, is played very differently in different states. Like in some places Children Start playing Holi with water Balloons and Water Guns a week ahead of the actual festival, embarking on the forthcoming Carnival.
Then On the Day of Holi People Meet, play with colors, exchange wishes, and return to their homes. Then again in the evening, they visit each other’s homes wearing their traditional attire and then feast on the mouth-watering delicacies made for the occasion.
In the Northern Parts, people sing Holi Folk Songs, down South in the state of Tamil Nadu, people celebrate the day of Love on the day of Holi. Every part of the country has its way of rejoicing on the day of Holi.
In Braj, that is a place in Northern India, Holi is said to last for more than a week and on one of the days during the celebration woman of the city walk around with sticks hitting men, who carry shields along with them to protect themselves, this type of Holi is called the famous “Lath Maar”.
Similarly, other states have their versions and name for the Festival.
Why is Holi Celebrated?
Holi is celebrated to rejoice in the Victory of Good over Evil. Several Legends are believed to be the real reason why Holi is celebrated. One of them, which is popularly known to be believed by the majority of the population is the Legend Involving the Hindu God Vishnu and his most dedicated Devotee, Prahlada.
According to this Popular legend mentioned in one of the Chapters of A Hindu Manuscript, Bhagwat Purana, Prahlada was the son of a very powerful demon God, HiranyaKashyapu, who had a boon that he couldn’t be killed by either Human or Animal, due to which he grew arrogant and demanded that people only worship him and regard him as the Ultimate God.
But when he saw his son, who worshipped Lord Vishnu from all his Heart and Soul, HiranyaKashyapu got angry, and in his fury, he ordered his sister Holika who was a demon too, to kill Prahlada by making him sit in a pyre with her.
The idea was to burn Prahlada to death, while Holika who was supposed to be wearing a cloak that was immune to Fire would return safely. Instead, a gust of wind threw her cloak on Prahlada covering him and burning Holika to Death. Seeing this The villagers who were fed up with the Holika’s wrongdoings started Rejoicing and became happy. This Victory of Good over Evil is the reason we celebrate Holi.
It is this Holika Bonfire that is made a night before Holi at various places in the country to mark the start of this Gala.
Holika Dahan is an essential part of Holi celebrated a night before Holi at various places in the country to mark the start of this Holi Festival. It symbols victory of Good over Evil.
The other very famous legend revolves around The Hindu God Shiva. When Lord Shiva was deep in meditation, Goddess Parvathi started missing him and wanted him to return, so she requests the Lord of Love, the Kama to make Shiva fall in love with her and make him come back, Kama threw one of his love arrows on Shiva which angered him and Shiva opened his Third Eye, killing Kama.
This incident made Parvathi and Kama’s Wife Rati very upset, Shiva soon realized it and after 40 days of the incident brought Kama back to life. Thus that day became the Day of Love, which also is one version of Holi in some parts of the country.
The Cultural Significance of Holi
The Holi Festival has a great Cultural Significance amongst the Hindus of the Indian Subcontinent. It is believed to be a day to end any sort of conflict by meeting others, getting rid of one self’s past errors, and ward off any malice inside their hearts. It is the day where pending debts are paid or forgiven.
It is also believed that Holi marks the start of the Spring Season, which is also a reason for it to be celebrated with so much joy as this change of seasons is considered auspicious according to the Hindu Culture. According to the famous Folklore, Holi is the Season of making new friends.