An Accomplished Guide of Holi in India
Holi is one of the most awaited festivals in India. It is celebrated all across the nation with great zeal and joy. Colors and water are seen everywhere during this festival. This festival is believed to bring happiness in the lives of people. Another thing that makes this festival special is that it is celebrated by people with great fun, irrespective of age, gender and caste.
What is Holi festival?
Holi festival is the festival during which people smear colors and water on each other. Since on the occasion of Holi, everything appears colorful, it is also referred to as the “Festival of Colors”. It is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country. It also serves as a day to catch up with friends and relatives, have fun and taste mouth-watering delicacies. There are several reasons for the celebration of the festival. While some celebrate it to commemorate the victory of good over evil, others celebrate it as the harvest festival. Whatever may the reason be, this is a festival spreading the message of friendship, brotherhood, and love.
09/03/2020 – 10/03/2020
When is Holi festival celebrated?
This joyful festival is observed on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun as per the Hindu calendar, which corresponds to the month in the Gregorian calendar. The celebrations of the festival are observed for a night and a day. While the night celebration is recognized as Holika Dahan/Chhoti Holi, people know the day celebration, i.e. playful Holi as Rangwali Holi/Dhulandi. In 2020, the Holi festival will be celebrated on 9-10 March.
Where is the Holi festival celebrated?
Holi is celebrated in almost all parts of India and is known by various names. It is referred to as Phakuwa/Phagwah in Assam while in Odisha; people know this festival as Dola Jatra. In West Bengal, Holi is called Basanti Utsav/Dol Jatra. Though the concept of Holi originated in South Asia, it is also celebrated in other parts of the world. Some of the countries where Holi celebrations take place include Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Suriname, Guyana, South Africa, Malaysia, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, etc. The most notable celebrations of Holi take place in Braj region of India, including locations like Mathura, Vrindavan, Barsana, Nandgaon, etc. in Uttar Pradesh. Holi can also be enjoyed in Jaipur (Rajasthan), Hampi (Karnataka), Shantiniketan (West Bengal), Punjab, Delhi, etc.
Why is the Holi festival celebrated?
Just like the festival of colors is celebrated in different ways in different places, there are different theories for its celebration. The most popular of all is Vishnu legend, which states that the festival portrays the victory of good over evil in the honor of Lord Vishnu and his devout follower Prahlad. According to the legend, there was a demon king named Hiranyakashipu. He possessed five special powers – he could neither be killed by a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither during the day nor at night, neither by Astra (projectile weapons) nor by any Shastra (handheld weapons), and neither on land nor in water or air. Owing to this boon, he was quite arrogant and he used to think himself a God and expected everyone to worship him only. However, his son was opposite as he prayed Lord Vishnu rather than him and this used to bother king a lot. The king used to punish his son brutally in order to get him convinced to worship only him but all was in vain. Gradually, Prahlad’s evil aunt, Holika tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was covered with a special cloak, which made her unaffected by the fire while Prahlad was not. As the fire clamored, the cloak flew away from Holika and covered Prahlad. This led to the burning of Holika while Prahlad was all well. Vishnu, the God who appears as an incarnation to restore Dharma in Hindu beliefs, took the form of Narasimha – half human and half lion (which is neither a human nor an animal), at dusk (when it was neither day nor night), took Hiranyakashipu at a doorstep (which was neither indoors nor outdoors), placed him on his lap (which was neither land, water nor air), and then disemboweled and killed the king with his lion claws (which were neither a handheld weapon nor a launched weapon). Therefore, Holi signifies the victory of good over evil, just like that of Prahlad over Hiranyakashipu.
Besides this legend, there are several other stories prevalent for the celebration of the festival. It is also believed that people celebrate Holi as a harvest festival and commemorate good spring harvests and fertile land. While some others believe that the festival marks the end of the winter season and the beginning of the spring season or a new year.
How is the Holi festival celebrated?
The major celebration of Holi takes place on the day succeeding the full moon night, which is called as Dhulandi or Rangwali Holi. On this day, people catch up with their friends, relatives, neighbors, etc., smear colors on each other. People also throw colored water at each other. Many people host parties at their homes in which all known ones are invited to play and have fun. They indulge in singing and dancing in the parties. Children like to play Holi with water-filled balloons and pichkaris (water guns). Bhang (a drink prepared from the cannabis) is consumed during the celebrations. Altogether Holi is a merry event during which people gather and have a good time with each, forgetting everything about their differences and worries.
Which rituals are performed during Holi festival?
People perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire, which is organized on the full moon day, which is referred to as Holika Dahan. People collect dry firewood, which is used to light the bonfire. This bonfire signifies Holika, the evil sister of Hiranyakashipu and aunt of Prahlad. The bonfire is burnt as a symbol of victory of good over evil. The bonfire is lit at or after sunset. People pray for wellness and happiness in their lives. The ashes of this bonfire are considered auspicious and people take them to their homes believing that they will protect them from any type of diseases.
What are the highlights of the Holi festival?
- People visit their friends and relatives to wish them and smear colors on them.
- Several delicious savories are prepared like gujiya, mathri, malpua, etc. and are distributed among dear ones.
- People engage in singing and dancing during the festival.
- It is celebrated by all, irrespective of age, gender and religion.
What are the tips to be followed during the Holi festival?
- It is better to apply some coconut or mustard oil so that the skin does not get affected by colors.
- Refrain from consuming excessive bhang and other intoxicants.
- Make sure that the colors which you are using to play Holi are organic and herbal.
- Protect your eyes and hair from getting affected.
- Use spare or old clothes to play Holi as the colors might not get off from the clothes.
- Use nail paints so that your nails don’t get affected by colors.
- Avoid staying in wet clothes for a long time.
If you also wish to have fun in the company of locals, check our collection of fair and festivals tours and book Holi tour package at the earliest. It will surely be an experience full of thrill and enjoyment.