Holi is a traditional Hindu festival which has been celebrated between the end of February and the middle of March. In India, it is the beginning of the Vasant (spring) season. This is the celebration for the triumph of good over evil. This is the best-known festival of colour in which the revellers throw colours to each other and enjoy.
This festival is not only organised in India but also in some parts of the world, even among the non-Hindu communities.
The facts of the festival
The evening before the day of Holi has been celebrated with the Holika Dahan or Chota Holi. This is actually the time when the Good won over the Evil. The people of festive goers gather to destroy the evil power by burning it along with holy prayers to destroy the evils inside.
The following is the day of Holi. This is the time when Abir or Gulal (colourful powders) has been thrown in the air and they are sprayed with the water guns and balloons to each to make everybody colourful.
What is the story behind Holi?
Different community celebrates Holi with different conceptions and beliefs.
Holi’s different celebrations come from various Hindu legends, although one is widely believed to be the most likely origin.
The term Holi is derived from the name of Holika, the sister of the Hindu demon king Hiranyakashipu. The king won immortality from the following powers.
- No animals or human could kill him
- He could not be killed indoors or outdoors
- He could not be killed in daytime or at night
- He is immortal on land, in water or in the air
- He could not be killed by handheld or projectile weapons
The immortality made him a demon and torturous. His son Prahlad then planned to kill him. The kind asked his sister to help. She wore a fireproof cloak and arranged a bonfire with Prahlad. The cloak flew from Holika’s shoulders when she was in the fire and covered Prahlad. His sister burnt to death, Prahlad was saved. At that moment, Lord Vishnu appeared to kill Hiranyakashipu by sidestepping his five powers of immortality.
He took the form of Narasimha, a figure of half-human and half-lion. He met him on the doorstep which is neither outdoors nor indoors. He appeared at dusk, which is neither night nor the daytime. He placed his father on his lap that is neither on land, in water or nor in the air. He attacked him with lion claws which are neither handheld nor projectile weapons.
While Hiranyakashipu and Holika were the representatives of evil, Vishnu and Prahlad come to represent good. This victory has been celebrated with the festival of colour, Holi.
History of Gulal thrown in the air
The coloured and scented Abir or Gulal is thrown in the air on the second day of the festival. This is celebrated to enhance the power of love inside as Lord Krishna and Radha, the representative of eternal love, played Holi on that day. The powder also signifies the advent of spring, the touch of which is felt everywhere.
The mythological belief of Hindus is that Krishna complained His mother that his complexion is dark compared to that of Radha, His beloved. Then, His mother smeared colour onto the face of Radha to cover his beautiful complexion. This mythological truth explains why today’s Holi is celebrated by throwing colours to people’s face.
Which colours are used?
Basically, four colourful powders are used: red, blue, yellow, and green. They present different significances. Red symbolises love and fertility, blue is the colour of Lord Krishna himself, yellow is the colour of positivity, clarity, and optimism, and green symbolises youth and new beginnings.
Young boys and girls, men and women and aged ones celebrate Holi today with great grandeur and enthusiasm. People forget all the walls between their relationships happened all the year round and become colourful with the new warmth of love and affection. People attach with their loved ones with the colourful relationship for a pledge to keep it all the year round.
Most offices remain closed on the day of Holi, but information technology cannot. They also celebrate the festival in the four-walls of offices. Along with the flow of works, they carry on celebrating the festival of colour with great enthusiasm.