Holi – Spring Festival in India

Holi is a spring festival celebrated in India on the full moon day of Phalguna (February-March). The festival has predominantly divided into two parts – Holika Dahan and Rangwali Holi. One of the essential principles of the festival is to encourage forgiveness and new beginnings while generating harmony in society.

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The festival, though predominantly celebrated in India, has spread to other parts of Asia and the world where the Indian diaspora marks it.

Cultural Significance of the festival Holi

There are varying accounts of Holi’s origin mentioned in several works of Indian Literature. Among these, the most popular ones are that of Krishna and that of Prahlada

The story of Krishna

According to this story, the festival is celebrated to commemorate the divine love of Radha for Lord Krishna. Due to Krishna’s despair of being dark-skinned, he asks Radha to color his face in any color she wants, which she did. Ever since then, this playful act has commemorated the spirit of the festival.

The story of Prahlada

Another famous story that explains the origins of the festival is that of Prahlada’s. King Hiranyakashipu has considered being an evil king of the Asuras has blessed with a boon that made it almost impossible to kill him. With this power, he soon grew greedy and forced his subjects to worship only him as their god. His son Prahlad, however, stood his ground and chose to remain devoted to Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu then plotted with his sister Holika to kill his son. Holika, like her brother, was immune to fire and has tricked Prahlad into sitting in a pyre with her. When the pyre was lit, Prahlada’s devotion to Lord Vishnu has helped him walk away from the fire, unscathed, while Holika was burned to death, despite her immunity.

This led to the ritual of the Holika Dahan. Furthermore, Hiranyakashipu has killed by an avatar of Vishnu known as Narasimha, thus establishing the theme of the triumph of good over evil.

Traditions and Celebration

1.Holika Dahan

On the eve of Holi, typically after sunset, a pyre is lit, signifying Holika Dahan. Holika Dahan is a ritual that symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. In this ritual, the pyre is lit to burn the demon Holika. Days before the festival, people start gathering wood and other combustible materials for the bonfire. On top of the pyre and effigy to signify, the demon has placed.

2. Rangwali Holi/Colour Holi

Post the Holika dahan, on the next day, and the celebrations begin in the morning. Children and young people form groups armed with dry colors, Coloured solutions, water guns, water balloons, among other means to color their targets.

Traditionally colors that were a derivative of natural and plant-derived materials like turmeric, neem, and kumkum have used, but this has evolved into a preference for more chemical water-based pigments. In the outdoors, wet mediums have used to play, but in the indoors, only dry colors have used.

To keep the energy levels of those playing, many foods and beverages are often a part of the celebration. Some of the significant dishes are Gujiya, Mathri, Malpuas, and many others, along with Cold drinks and Thandaai.

Later in the day, people wash up and dress up in the evening to meet friends and relatives while exchanging sweets.

Also read, Pongal

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