Holi is a festival which is celebrated to honour the triumph of good over evil. The two-day extravaganza which also includes Chhoti Holi is marked across the country with vigour and excitement.
This year, the much-awaited festival will be celebrated on 18 March. This popular Hindu festival is often referred to as the festival of spring as it marks the onset of the season and end of winter.
As the festival is around the corner, here are some interesting facts about Holi:
Origin of Holi is connected with two mythological tales:
First is the story of demon king Hiranyakashyap, who asked his sister Holika to kill his son Prahlad by sitting on fire. However, Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad and Holika was burnt to ashes. The second one is the celebrated love story of Lord Krishna and Radha. As per Hindu scriptures, Krishna smeared colour on Radha’s face and from then onwards the celebration of Holi allegedly began.
Significance of Purnima:
People observe Chhoti Holi on the night of Purnima. During this event which takes place a day ahead of Holi, bonfires are lit and an effigy of Holika is set afire. This ritual is termed as Holika Dahan. The burning of the effigy signifies the killing of demon Holika and the next day Holi is celebrated. People visit friends or invite them home, play with colourful gulaal, eat delicious meals and exchange sweets with one another to share the joy.
Holi is grandly celebrated in Mathura and Vrindavan:
People in Mathura and Vrindavan begin their celebration a week prior to Holi. Locals don’t just play with colour but also with bamboo sticks and shields which is commonly known as Lathmar Holi. Interestingly, people in Vrindavan dedicate a complete day to playing Holi with flowers.
Most significant message from Holi:
This festival seeks to break barriers, which divide people; it is one among the many festivals that brings together people of all religions for merry-making.
Holi is not only celebrated in India and its neighbouring countries. People from the USA and parts of Europe celebrate this festival with great pomp and show as well. Surprisingly, Nepal has a full-fledged week dedicated to Holi. A week ahead of Holi, people who observe this festival decorate a long bamboo stick in colourful clothes and then burn it on the occasion of Holika Dahan.
Widowers Celebrate Holi:
Widowers in Vrindavan start playing Holi two days ahead of the festival. This practice is being followed since 2013. With this practice, Holi has once again broken old-age traditions as it encourages people from all walks of life to engage in the fun and laughter.
Use of Many Colours:
During the festival of Holi, the use of synthetic colours is a recent trend. Many prefer playing with water and homemade natural colours or gulaal. Natural colours are usually derived from marigold flowers, indigo and sunflowers. Water plays a big part in the festival as people use water balloons and engage in water fights that take place among family and friends.
People in South India have a different take on Holi:
It may come as a surprise that Holi is not widely celebrated in the southern part of India when compared to the north. People belonging to the southern states attribute this festival to the sacrifice of Lord Kamdeva, who is known as the God of love. According to Hindu scriptures, he risked his life to awake Lord Shiva from his deep meditation and rescued the world. During this festival, people in the south honour the sacrifice of Kamdeva, who risked his life and preserved the world.