The Holi festival is the celebration of colors in our lives. The festival has different aspects to its celebration. Like it is a celebration of good over evil, a carnival of colors, a community festival, a secular festival and a tradition of ancient spring rites. The main celebration takes place on the full moon day of Phalguna.
The real essence behind its celebration is the community flavors of it that bridges the social gap. People of all religion and caste color each other with gulal and other form of dyes. They also visit homes, distribute sweets and greet each other. Men, women, adult and children all take part in dances and other cultural programs. It’s the time of the year when roadside stalls throughout the country bear tables covered with bags of colorful powder, called gulal. Holi, is the exuberant festival of color.
The Hindu calendar uses lunar months, and Phalguna typically runs from the latter half of February through the first half of March. The crops have been harvested, so farmers have more free time and some money to celebrate the end of winter. With Holi, this celebration is an ecstatic burst of color.
In the past, the color came from flowers that blossom only during the festival. Now, however, the powder is often created artificially. On the eve of Holi, bonfires are burn at many street corners. Everybody celebrates Holi in a festive mood. It is that time of the year when everyone forgets everything and takes part in the celebration of colors.
Holi is celebrated in all parts of the country from north to south and from east to west with the same enthusiasm and joy. Holi, is a spring festival it is celebrated in the month of March. Though the festival originated in the northern part of India, Holi has assumed a national flavor over the ages. Despite being a Hindu festival, it is now celebrated in a secular spirit. The entire nation takes part irrespective of race, culture and ethnic background. It is the spirit of Holi, which binds them together. People from different strata comes together to enjoy the colors of life.
The festival of Holi has various customs associated with it. Holi is the festival of Spring, which signifies freshness and beauty. It is associated with various emotions. Like it is the festival of romance, the festival of victory of good over evil, a festival of colors and festival of fun and enjoyment. People usually tend to forget their past bitterness and makes a fresh start. The best part of the festival is that everybody is in a holiday mood and enjoys the spirit of Holi.
All the offences and anger gets dissolved when one wishes another Happy Holi. The festival is mainly celebrated on the full – moon day of Phalguna, though it is celebrated for a week in Northern India and six – day long in Manipur. According to the tradition people gather around on a day before the Holi lit bonfires on the night before Holi in memory of the event and burning of the evil Holika. It symbolizes the victory of Good over evil. People take embers from this holy fire to rekindle their own domestic fires.
In some communities, people roast barley seeds in the fire to eat and it is believed that the yield of the coming harvest season can be predicted by reading the direction of the flames or the state of the roasted seeds. The ashes of the Holi fire are believed to have some medicinal properties.
Next morning, it is ‘Dhuledi’ or the main festival of colors, Holi where everyone splashes each other with colored powder and water jets known as ‘pichkaris’. Traditionally, only natural colors prepared from flowers and herbal products were used earlier but today, artificial colors are available in the market. Now people often use colored foams and balloons filled with colored water. The colors like red, green, blue, orange, purple acts as healers and wash away all the enmity and hatred among people.
The festival of Holi brings the community closer. Holi sweets and delicacies are an important part of the festival as one can try out ‘Gujhias’ in northern India and ‘Puran Poli’ in Maharashtra. ‘Thandai’ ( a cool drink of milk ) mixed with ‘bhang’ ( an intoxicating substance ) to bright up their Holi spirit. In other words its party time and time to enjoy and have fun.
Holi Festival in India
Holi is one of the major festivals of India and is celebrated across the country with the same enthusiasm and joy. However, each region has its own flavor and variations to it. Different states have a different way of celebrating it according to their own cultural traditions. Let’s have a look at the different parts of the country and see how it is celebrated across India. It is said that Holi originated in North India so the celebration here has a special touch to it.
As according to legends Krishna spent most of his childhood in Mathura and Vrindavana. So here Holi is celebrated with great gusto for many days. Situated in the Northern part of Indian the state of Uttar Pradesh, celebrates Holi over a week or so. Each major temple, housing the idols of Krishna and Radha, celebrates Holi on a different day. People throng the temples to get drenched with colored water and consider it a blessing from the god.
Mathura and Vrindavana is the major place of attraction during the festive season. Young men and women take part in the Holi celebration as they try to put gulal on each other. In Haryana also it is celebrated in a grand way as the brides of the Hindu undivided families hang a pot of buttermilk high up in the streets as a challenge to their brother – in – laws, who try to get and break the pot by forming a human pyramid to reach it.
Women try to stop them by beating them with their saris rolled up as ropes. This depicts the mock drama of Lord Krishna stealing milk, butter and curd from the cow maid’s house. In the evening, the brother – in – laws bring sweetmeats for their sister – in – laws. In the western part of the country too it is celebrated in more or less similar fashion. Like the northern state Maharashtra and Gujarat also host mock – drama of Lord Krishna trying to break the pots and steal the butter. Besides this men also takes out grand procession in these places totally soaked in colors.
In the eastern part of the country it is celebrated with similar enthusiasm and joy. In Bengal, Holi is called Dol Yatra ( the Swing Festival ) in which idols of Krishna and Radha are placed on swings and devotees take turns to swing them. Women perform pujas and sing devotional songs in praise of Lord Krishna and Radha and dance around the swing as men spray colored water and ‘Abeer’ ( colored powder ) on them.
But with the passage of time these traditions are more or less lost. Nowadays people play with colored water and powders in the morning and then take out processions on the streets singing and dancing. Orissa too celebrates in a similar fashion as Bengal except for the fact that the idols of Jagannath is placed on the swing here instead of Krishna and Radha, who is believed to be another form of Krishna. Another very different way Holi is celebrated in Shantiniketan.
Which was introduced by Rabindranath Tagore who celebrated Holi in his Bishwabharati University in Shantiniketan as Spring Festival known as Vasanta Utsav, which is celebrated in a very special way. As students of the university and youths dress up in bright yellow colorful dresses symbolizing the color of Vasanta. They stage a number of cultural programs involving group choreography, songs and dance followed by playing Holi with ‘Abeer’ ( colored powder ). Today, Vasanta Utsav has become an important part of the Bengali culture as it attracts tourists from India and abroad.
In the northeast side also Holi is celebrated in a big way. It is a six – day long affair here. In Manipur the festival commences on the full moon day of Phalguna. In the 18th century, it merged with the traditional and centuries – old Yaosang festival of Manipur. Earlier, there were folk songs and dance performances under the moonlight accompanied by the indigenous drums. Today the way of celebration has changed.
It is celebrated as a community festival. Devotees of Lord Krishna play ‘gulal’, sing devotional songs and dance in front of the Krishna temple. The last day of the festival is marked with a grand procession taken out towards the main Krishna temple in Manipur. In Imphal various cultural activities are performed. And talking about the metro cities of the country all of them celebrates Holi with colors, music, feast, dance and parties It is the spirit of Holi, which can be seen throughout the country.
Holi Festival Legend
Holi is regarded as one of the most important and oldest Hindu festivals. The depictions of the festival are visible in numerous Hindu religious scriptures and sculpture on walls of old temples and caves. There are paintings, showcasing the Holi celebration of Lord Krishna and Radha. Whatever the scene and the theme, colors and mythology have always been an important part of these Holi depictions. There are various legends and stories associated with the celebration of holi here are some of the most popular legends.
Story of Holika and Prahlad
There was a demon – king named Hiranyakashipu who was very cruel and ordered everybody to worship him and not God. He was against Lord Vishnu. However, his little son Prahlad refused to do so and continued to worship the almighty Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God. He tried hard to kill him but every time Lord Vishnu saved him.
One of the sisters of the king named Holika had a boon to remain unscathed by fire, so she followed her brother’s wishes. However, with this sinful act against Lord Narayana’s devotee, Holika’s boon ended and she was burnt to ashes, while Prahlad came out safe. From that day onwards Holi is celebrated as the festival of the victory of good over evil. Even today, bonfires are lit on the night before Holi in memory of the event and burning of the evil Holika. It symbolizes the victory of Good over evil.
Story of Radha and Krishna
Another legend, which tells us the use of colors in Holi is that of Lord Krishna and Radha. Lord Krishna use to play with colors with Radha and Gopis.This lovable prank of throwing colored powder and watercolors called ‘pichkaris’ soon gained favor with the people and it evolved into the tradition of Holi. This is the reason that people play with colors in Holi and at the same time they worship Lord Krishna and Radha. The Holi of Mathura and Vrindavan region, are very famous because it the place where Krishna was born and spend his childhood days.
History of Holi
We all celebrate Holi but hardly anyone knows the reason behind its celebration and origin. Originally Holi is a Spring festival. It celebrates good harvests and fertility of the land. There are many legends and history associated with the origin of this spring festival. The most popular among these legends is the one about the story of Prahlad, the son of the evil King Hiranyakasipu and the devotee of lord Vishnu.
He tried hard to kill him but every time Lord Vishnu saved him. One of the sisters of the king named Holika had a boon to remain unscathed by fire, so she followed her brother’s wishes. However, with this sinful act against Lord Narayana’s devotee, Holika’s boon ended and she was burnt to ashes, while Prahlad came out safe. From that day onwards Holi is celebrated as the festival of the victory of good over evil.
Even today, bonfires are lit on the night before Holi in memory of the event and burning of the evil Holika. It symbolizes the victory of Good over evil. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.
Holi also celebrates colors. It is called the festival of colors. Lord Krishna and Radha is associated with the celebration of colors. It is the immortal love of Krishna and Radha, which is associated with the celebration of colors in Holi. Holi is also called Vasant Utsav or the festival of spring. The day after burning the Holika people put the ashes from the fire as Vibhuti on their forehead often mixed with Chandan paste ( Sandalwood paste ).
Around the same time of the year as Holi, Catholics also celebrate ash ceremony called, Ash Wednesday. It is believed that on the day Holika was burnt Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Kaamdev ( the God of Love ) to ashes because once Kaamdev in his foolish pride aimed his love arrow at Lord Shiv who was in deep meditation. Sensing his presence Lord Shiv opened his third eye and burnt Kaamdev to ashes.
Rati, Kaamdev’s wife, beseeched Lord Shiv to take pity on her and restore her husband to life. Shiv relented and granted her the boon that she could see her husband but he would remain without a physical form. Hence, the songs sung during Holi tell the tale of Rati and her lamentations. These are the few legends, which tells us the origin of Holi festival and its celebration.
Holi is the time for fun and feasting. It’s the time to enjoy some delicious delicacies to bright up the festive mood. And what’s better way to enjoy mouthwatering dishes during Holi. Since India is a vast country and every region has its own recipe to light up the Holi spirit. Delicacies are one of the main parts of any Indian festival. We cannot think of any Indian festival without food. Among all food Gujhia is one of the most popular desserts of Holi. It is a must for every North Indian home during the festival of Holi. There are ‘papris’ and ‘dahi vade’ to add to the lists. There intoxicating ‘bhang – ke – vade’ but it should be taken in small quantities.
There are various kinds of sharbats ( drinks ) especially for the occasion like Thandai, which is a special kind of kesar drink. Holi is also famous for the sweets that are offered to the visitors that come to apply colors and enjoy the sweets offered by the host. Holi has always been known for the big bashes and parties that are thrown to enjoy the celebrations.
Sweets can be of various types depending on the different regions. Like in the eastern part there are sweets mostly made of milk and khir seets are very famous here. Special kinds of namkeens are also prepared for the occasion. Even you can buy various gift hampers of chocolates and sweets and namkeens to make your Holi all the more interesting.
Here are some recipes for sweets and drinks, which you can try at home as they are easy to make and fast to cook. You can try out these dishes and serve to your guests on the festive day.
Significance of Holi Colors
As the festival of Holi comes it brings with it the colors of life and colors of love. Colors fill our world with beauty. Wherever we see colors we see life. The beautiful colors of nature fills our life with joy. There is lot of significance of colors in our life. We blend our life with colors in various ways. Colors have long lasting impressions on our mind. They play an important part in our lives.
Nature is a spectrum of colors. It portrays every shades of colors through flowers, snow peaked mountains, green trees, sea, rivers and muddy lands. We communicate our feelings and emotions through colors. A painting becomes real only when the artist knows the actual use of colors. Different colors describe different moods and feelings. Traditionally Holi was celebrated with dry colors known as ‘Gulal’, which were prepared naturally from the flowers and other products that had dyeing properties.
However with time, those natural colors have been replaced by strong colors, chemically enhanced and artificial colors. To avoid these strong chemical colors you can use prepare natural colors at home. Different colors have different implications. They are as follows. The color Red signifies danger, passion, blood and fire. It induces the feeling of strength and power. It also portrays anger it is considered the color of the Mars, the Roman God of war. Red signifies happiness too.
Blue signify sadness. It is the color for peace and heavenly living. Blue signifies soberness and happiness. Green is the color of envy, the jealousy for others. Green is poisonous but amazingly green is the color of Nature. It sustains life. Yellow color reflects cowardice. It makes one weak & sick. However, some believe Yellow is brilliance and brings warmth.
Year before, tribal people believed that success came from west which is red, north is blue which brings trouble. Person who loves yellow has vivid imagination. Clear thoughts and well organized and a person with pride. Black is bad luck, white is peace; black is evil, white is virgin; black is sorrow, white is happiness; black brings depression; white is dignity and purity. White is revealing of truth, black is worst crime. Orange portrays ambition and motivates one’s creativity. Violet is royal. It is mystery. Grey suggests retirement and quietness. So this Holi remember the significance of the colors before you apply them on your friends and relatives.
The festival of Holi is closely associated with the ancient festival called Vasantotsava or Spring rites, since it bears close similarities with the important an age – old tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring. Vasanta Utsav is the celebration of the arrival of spring as it brings with it new life. Though this festival is celebrated in all parts other than south India, it resembles the legendry mythological Indra Vizha celebrated.
This festival was celebrated as a day when people forgot caste and gender differences and were allowed many liberties, otherwise forbidden. And like any spring festival celebrated by ancient peoples all over the world, Vasantotsava also had certain rites. These include lighting up of fires, driving off demons, setting the normal orders in reverse, sporting something weird, having a community feast, and so on.
Vasanta Utsav is celebrated in a big way in Bengal started by Rabindranath Tagore who celebrated Holi in his Bishwabharati University in Shantiniketan as Spring Festival known as Vasanta Utsav, which is celebrated in a very special way. As students of the university and youths dresses up in bright yellow colorful dresses symbolizing the color of Vasanta.
They stage a number of cultural programs involving group choreography, songs and dance followed by playing Holi with ‘Abeer’ ( colored powder ). Today, Vasanta Utsav has become an integral part of the Bengali culture as it attracts tourists from India and abroad. The rituals, which are followed in Holi has a resemblance to the customs followed in Vasanta Utsav. Like the tradition of coloring each other, taking out processions and greeting each other with sweets, bonfire one day before Holi are all part of Vasanta Utsav celebration.
The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. In India the Spring Festival is called Holi the festival of colors. Celebrated in March or April according to the Hindu calendar. The festival mainly started to welcome the Spring season and win the blessings of Gods for good harvests and fertility of the land.
As with all the Hindu festivals, there are many interesting legends attached to Holi, the most popular being the story of Prince Prahlad who was a devout follower of Lord Vishnu and Holika. It is the second most important festival of India after Diwali. Holi in India is a festival of fun and frolic and has been associated with the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Radha.
The exuberance and the festivity of the season is remarkable. Holi is one of the major festivals of India and is celebrated in most of the states of India. However, each region celebrates it according to their culture and traditions. Different states celebrate it according to their own customs.
- Holi 2013 – 27th March, 2013
- Holi 2014 – 17th March, 2014
- Holi 2015 – 06th March, 2015
- Holi 2016 – 23th March, 2016
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