Holi Festival is one of the india’s biggest festival, however it’s the most colourful — and probably the one which is most loved by foreigners.
Many people have already “experienced Holi in India” and they had loved it.
How adults, children or old everyone throw coloured powder at each other, and squirt each other with water weapons packed with colored water like water balloons, tubs and all other things and of course who are extra adventurous like me there’s also bhang to drink on.
Holi Festival in India
One of the major festivals of India, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar.
Holi festival may be celebrated with various names and people of different states might be following different traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.
Holi Festival History
Holi is an ancient festival of India and was originally known as ‘Holika’. The festivals finds a detailed description in early religious works such as Jaimini’s Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutras. Historians also believe that Holi was celebrated by all Aryans but more so in the Eastern part of India.
It is said that Holi existed several centuries before Christ. However, the meaning of the festival is believed to have changed over the years. Earlier it was a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was worshiped.
Calculating the Day of Holi
There are two ways of reckoning a lunar month- ‘purnimanta’ and ‘amanta’. In the former, the first day starts after the full moon; and in the latter, after the new moon. Though the amanta reckoning is more common now, the purnimanta was very much in vogue in the earlier days.
According to this purnimanta reckoning, Phalguna purnima was the last day of the year and the new year heralding the Vasanta-ritu (with spring starting from next day). Thus the full moon festival of Holika gradually became a festival of merrymaking, announcing the commencement of the spring season. This perhaps explains the other names of this festival – Vasanta-Mahotsava and Kama-Mahotsava.
On the eve of Holi, called Chhoti or Small Holi people gather at important crossroads and light huge bonfires, the ceremony is called Holika Dahan. This tradition is also followed in Gujarat and Orissa. To render greatfulness to Agni, god of Fire, gram and stalks from the harvest are also offered to Agni with all humility. Ash left from this bonfire is also considered sacred and people apply it on their foreheads. People believe that the ash protects them from evil forces.
Play of Colors
Great excitement can be seen in people on the next day when it is actually the time for the play of colours. Shops and offices remain closed for the day and people get all the time to get crazy and whacky. Bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air and people take turns in pouring colour water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and throwing water balloons and passers by. Women and senior citizen form groups called tolis and move in colonies – applying colours and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouthwatering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.
Holi Legends and Mythology
In some parts of India, specially in Bengal and Orissa, Holi Purnima is also celebrated as the birthday of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (A.D. 1486-1533). However, the literal meaning of the word ‘Holi’ is ‘burning’. There are various legends to explain the meaning of this word, most prominent of all is the legend associated with demon king Hiranyakashyap.
Hiranyakashyap wanted everybody in his kingdom to worship only him but to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana. Hiaranyakashyap commanded his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. Holika had a boon whereby she could enter fire without any damage on herself. However, she was not aware that the boon worked only when she enters the fire alone. As a result she paid a price for her sinister desires, while Prahlad was saved by the grace of the god for his extreme devotion. The festival, therefore, celebrates the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion.
Legend of Lord Krishna is also associated with play with colors as the Lord started the tradition of play with colours by applying colour on his beloved Radha and other gopis. Gradually, the play gained popularity with the people and became a tradition.
There are also a few other legends associated with the festival – like the legend of Shiva and Kaamadeva and those of Ogress Dhundhi and Pootana. All depict triumph of good over evil – lending a philosophy to the festival.
Holi Festival essay
Holi is very famous festival of the colours celebrated every year in the month of Phalgun by the people of India with big joy. It is the festival of lots of fun and frolic activities especially for the children who take part in the celebration a week before and lasts a week after the date of Holi festival. Holi festival is celebrated by the people of Hindu religion all over the India especially in North India in the month of March.
There are many stories and legends behind celebrating the Holi in India for years. It is the festival of great importance and significance. According to the Hindu mythology, it is considered as Holi celebration was started a long ago from the ancient time when Holika was burned in the fire while trying to kill her own brother’s son in the fire. It is considered as there was a demon king called Hiranyakashyap, father of little Prahlad. He had tried to kill his own son in the fire when Prahlad denied to worship his father as Prahlad was a great devotee of the Lord Vishnu. When Hiranyakashyap failed in many of his strategies to kill Prahlad, he ordered his own sister, Holika to sit in fire by having Prahlad in her lap as she was booned by the God for never getting harmed by the fire.
However, this strategy was also became failed as little Prahlad was the devotee of the Lord Vishnu and he was saved by his God. Holika was died in the fire and Prahlad was saved. From that day, people of Hindu religion started celebrating the Holi festival every year. In the evening of a day before the colourful Holi, people make a heap of woods and co-dung cakes on the cross roads and do fire in the heap in the myth of burning Holika and celebrate Holika Dahan ceremony. Some people make round and round of the burning Holika and worship to get blessed with the prosperity and good health by burning all the sins and diseases in the fire. There is also a tradition in Hindu religion of burning wastes of the whole body massage with mustard seed paste in the fire in the myth of burning all the skin problems and get good health for the whole year.
In the next morning of the Holika Dahan, people celebrate a colourful Holi by getting together at one place and on the roads. Colourful Holi preparations start a week before the main date of the Holi festival. People become highly enthusiastic especially children of the home who starts buying different colours a week before the date. Even they start playing colours with their friends, neighbours and relatives with pitchakri and small balloons. In the morning people start roaming to each other’s home by having abeer and colours to play. They apply abeer to the forehead of each other, hug each other and celebrate eating various delicious dishes like gujhiya, sweets, pani puri, dahi bade, chips and so many other yummy dishes at each other’s home all through the day.