It’s Holi season! The festival of colors that signifies the onset of spring season, and the victory of good over evil, is only two days away. Holi is popular across the globe for the colors that revellers throw on each other, leaving the festival-goers and the streets drenched in colour by the evening. Today, we’re going to talk about this unique festival, it’s significance in Hindu Mythology, and how it began.
The Globalisation of Holi
Holi is one of the most important festivals of Hinduism. Every year, the festivals is celebrated by millions throughout the world. Although It’s traditionally a Hindu festival which is majorly celebrated in India, it has started spreading throughout the world, thanks to Globalisation. In the past few years Holi’s popularity has spread to as far as USA, Australia, and Europe. Every year, they organise 5k ‘Color Runs’, ‘Color Festivals, etc. Moreover, tourists from all over the world click to India every year to witness this amazing experience of a festival.
When is Holi Celebrated?
Holi is celebrated on the full moon of the Phalgun month according to the Hindu moon calender. Celebrations across the country begin on the full moon EVE, and continue till the next day. In terms of English calender, it usually falls between February’s end and the middle of March. However, in certain rare cases, like in this year, when there are two full moons, it is celebrated from the first one.
The first day of Holi is also called as ‘Holika Dahan’, or Chhoti Holi. Fetstival-goers traditionally form local groups and gather around a bonfire, that signifies the burning of the evil monstress Holika, as well as the triumph of good over evil. They also perform various religious rituals, including prayers to the Gods that any evil inside of them is destroyed.
How did Holi begin?
Holi has various celebrations which come from various Hindu legends. However, there is one that is widely believed to be the most likely origin of the festival. This legend has it, that the celebration’s name originated from Holika, the Hindu demon king Hiranyakashipu’s sister. It is said that the demon king was granted immortality with five powers:
- He couldn’t be killed neither by animals nor humans
- He could be killed neither indoors nor outdoors
- He could be killed neither during the day nor at night
- He could be killed on neither land, water nor air
- He could be killed by neither projectile nor handheld weapons.
The pride of immortality drove him evil and he began killing all those who disobeyed him. So, his son Prahlad decided to kill him. Upon finding out about this, the king asked his sister Holika for help; they planned that she would wear a fire-proof cloak and take Prahlad into a bonfire with her.
However, as soon as they got to the bonfire, the cloak flew from her shoulders and covered Prahlad; he was protected while Holika burnt to death. In the legend, the Lord Vishnu then appeared as Narsinmha, to kill Hiranyakashipu by sidestepping his five powers.
He took the form of Narasimha, a half-human and half-lion; he met him on a doorstep, which is neither indoors nor outdoors; he appeared at dusk, which is neither daylight nor dusk; he placed his father on his lap, which is neither land, water nor air; and he attacked him with his lion claws, which are neither projectile nor handheld weapons.
While Hiranyakashipu and Holika signified evil, Vishnu and Prahlad represented good. The story shows the glory of good over evil, which is why it is tied with the festival.
Another popular origin of the festival is the legend of Krishna. The Hindu deity, embarrased by his dark blue skin, told his mother he was worried his love Radha would not accept him. She told him to colour Radha’s face whatever colour he wanted; when he did, they became a couple.
Why colors are thrown in the air ?
The day after Choti Holi is called Badu Holi, or Rangwali Holi. This is when the famous colourful powders called gulaals are thrown in the air, mixed with colored water from water guns and colored water balloons so that the powder sticks to people.
The coloured powder – or gulal – thrown during the festival comes from the legend of Krishna started above. Today, anyone at Holi is fair game to be covered in the perfumed powder as a celebration of Krishna and Radha’s love, regardless of age or social status. The powder also signifies the coming of spring and all the new colours it brings to nature.
Historically, the gulal was made of turmeric, paste and flower extracts, but today synthetic versions are largely used.
The four main powder colours are used to represent different things. Red reflects love and fertility, blue is the colour of Krishna, yellow is the colour of turmeric and green symbolises spring and new beginnings.
So this was the story behind the Historic Holi Festival. Here’s wishing all of you a happy and safe Holi from team HiTech Gazette!