The festival of holi signifies the great victory of good over the evil and welcoming of spring. Holi is a festival were people meet, play with colours and enjoy eating various types of sweets.
It’s starts in evening of full moon night and continues till next day evening. The first evening is known as choti holi or Holika Dahan following with the next day as Holi.
The history behind Holi
Holi is celebrated in India from ancient times. Mainly holi is considered as a festival welcoming the spring season. People as well as the Mother Nature both rejoice themselves with colors and liveliness of spring.
There are a various stories heard for why we celebrate holi. Among them one story tells that an evil king named Hiranyakashp forbade his son Prahlad from worshipping lord Vishnu, but prahladh continued to offer prayers to him.
This made Hiranyakaship very angry and he asked prahlad to sit on pyre with his wicked aunt Holika who was blessed with the immunity from fire. Prahlad agreed on this and prayed to lord Vishnu to keep him safe.
When he sat with his aunt on fire what happened was holika got burnt to death and prahlad was saved. That is why Holika dahan is done.
It is also said the red colour also known as gulal used during the festival comes from the story of lord Krishna who had dark blue completion and felt insecure that his love radha will reject him.
To make radha like him he rubbed gulal to hide his skin colour. Due to this holi is also celebrated as a festival of love.
Another story associated with holi is on lord shiva. Lord shiva is known for his peaceful and meditative nature.
One day madana the goddess of love decided to test the concentration power of shiva and appeared as a beautiful nymph. In result shiva recognized madana and became very angry.
In anger lord shiva opened his third eye and burned mandana into ashes. Thus the ashes of mandana are taken as the basis of Holi’s bonfire. Thus there are various ancient stories related to the festival of holi.
Rituals and Customs
It is an ancient Hindu festival filled with colors of love and togetherness. The main idea behind holi is having a get together with your loved once and playing with colours. That is why we call holi the festival of colours.
There are various cultural rituals connected with holi:
Preparation for Holika: People start gathering fire wood and different types of combustible materials days before holika pyre. They also look out for open space were the bonfire will be done.
Holika Dahan: On the full moon day after the sunset people gather in an open space were the pyre is lit which signifies Holika dahan. This ritual signifies the victory of good over the evil.
Playing with colours: After the Holika dahan the next day is celebrated as holi. On this day people put colours on each other and celebrate the festival with meeting there loved once and spending quality time with them.
Dry natural colours, water colours, water balloons and various types of chemical colours are used on this day. That is why we call it festival of colours.
Other variation of rituals: In Mathura’s Braj region the festival of holi last for more than a week. The rituals of holi go beyond playing with colours.
They follow a ritual were men protect themselves with shield and women beat them with sticks. Whereas in south India, on this day people worship and offer prayers to Kaamadeva the love god of Indian mythology.
Food: After the joyful day of holi celebration people eat different types of sweets and dishes. The very famous sweet of holi festive is Gujiya which is loved by children and adults both.
This festival has many stories in itself to tell. With so much of beautiful things to know about holi there is another part of the coin. It is believed that Holika dahan bonfire contributes to deforestation.
It is also believed that the smoke produced from the bonfire increases air pollution. Thus as this festival signifies the victory of good over evil it also contributes in making the environment polluted.
It is one of the widely celebrated festivals even internally. Thus this festival connects people from different background and cultures together as well as binds them with the thought of the victory of good thoughts and deeds over the evil, welcoming the spring season which signifies new harvest and blooming of the mother nature as well as celebrating the day as a thanksgiving day with their family, friends and loved once.