Holi 2014 will start on Monday, the 17th of March and will continue for 2 days until Tuesday, the 18th of March. Holi is a festival also known as festival of colours, and sometimes festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has
become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as
people of other communities.
It is primarily observed in India, Nepal and other regions of the
world with significant populations of majority Hindus. The festival
has, in recent times, spread in parts of Europe and North Americas as
a spring celebration of love, frolic and colours.
Holi celebrations start with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi
where people gather, sing and dance. The next morning is free for all
carnival of colours. where everyone plays, chases and colours each
other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water
guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone
and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or
woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs
in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. People
move and visit family, friends and foes, first play with colours on
each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and
drinks. In the evening, after having their water fight, people dress
up, visit friends and family. It is a national holiday in our country,
Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, on the Full
Moon. The festival date varies every year as per the Hindu Calender,
and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian
Calender . The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the
arrival of spring, end of winter.
Significance of HOLI:-
There is a symbolic legend to explain why Holi is celebrated. The word
"Holi" originates from "Holika", the evil sister of demon king
Hiranyakashipu. King Hiranyakashipu had earned a boon that made him
virtually indestructible. The special powers blinded him. He felt that
he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him.
Hiranyakashipu's own son, Prahalada was however disagreed with his
father. He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. This irritated
Hiranyakashipu. This was because once his evil brother, took earth
into the sea. When Vishnu saw this, he took the form of a turtle and
saved earth and killed Hiranyakashyapu's brother. So he subjected
Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy because
due to his true devotion to Vishnu, every time he was in danger,
Vishnu would save him. When Hiranyakashyapu was failed in all his
attempts, he asked help from his sister, Holika. Finally, Holika -
Prahlada's evil aunt - tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her.
Holika was wearing a cloth that made her immune to injury from fire,
while Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika
and encased Prahlada. Holika burned and Prahlada survived. Vishnu
appeared in the form of Narsingha (half lion and half human) and
killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic
victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, of fire
that burned Holika. The day after Holika bonfire is celebrated as
Holi festival has other cultural significance. It is the festive day
to end and rid oneself of past errors, end conflicts by meeting
others, a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as
well as deal anew with those in their lives. Holi also marks the start
of spring, and for many the start of new year. There are many other
legends behind the celebration of Holi like:-
In Braj region of India, where grew up, the festival is celebrated
for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi) in commemoration of the divine love of
Radha for Krishna, a Hindu deity. The festivities officially usher in
spring, with Holi celebrated as festival of love. There is a symbolic
myth behind commemorating Krishna as well. Baby Krishna transitioned
into his characteristic dark blue skin colour because a she demon
Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth, Krishna
despairs whether fair skinned Radha and other girls will like him
because of his skin colour. His mother, tired of the desperation, asks
him to approach Radha and colour her face in any colour he wanted.
This he does, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. The playful
colouring of the face of Radha has henceforth been commemorated as
Holi is an important festival to Hindus. It is celebrated at the end
of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month
Phalguna (February/March), which usually falls in March, sometimes in
late February. Holi is an ancient Hindu festival with its cultural
rituals. It is mentioned in the Puranas, The celebration of Holi is
also mentioned in the 7th-century Sanskrit drama, Ratnavali. The
festival of Holi caught the fascination of European traders and
British colonial staff by the 17th century. Various old editions of
Oxford English Dictionary mention it, but with varying spellings.
The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the
beginning of the spring. In 17th century literature, it was identified
as a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring
harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying
spring's abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. Holi
festivities mark the beginning of new year to many Hindus, as well as
a justification to reset and renew ruptured relationships, end
conflicts and accumulated emotional impurities from past.
It also has a religious purpose, symbolically signified by the legend
of Holika. The night before Holi, bonfires are lit, known as Holika
Dahan. People gather near fires, dance and sing. The next day, Holi is
celebrated. Children and youth spray coloured powder solutions at each
other, laugh and celebrate, while elders tend to smear dry coloured
powder on each other's face. After playing with colours, and cleaning
up, people bath, put on clean clothes, visit friends and family.
Like Holika Dahan, Kama Dahanam is celebrated in some parts of India.
The festival of colours is these parts is called Rangapanchami, and
occurs on fifth day after full moon.
Cultural rituals associated with Holi:-
1) Prepare Holika pyre for bonfire
Days before the festival people start gathering wood and combustible
materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples
and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is an effigy to signify
Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. Inside homes, people stock
up on colour pigments, food, party drinks and festive seasonal foods
such as gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other regional delicacies.
2) Holika dahan
On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the pyre is lit,
signifying Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good
over evil. People sing and dance around the fire.
3) Play with colours
Holi's celebrations begin the morning after Holika bonfire. There is
no tradition of holding prayers, and the day is for partying and pure
enjoyment. Children and youth groups form armed with dry colours,
coloured solution, means to fill and spray others with coloured
solution, balloons that can hold coloured water, and other creative
means to colour their targets.
Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colours such as turmeric
neem kumkum etc. were used; but now water-based commercial pigments
are increasingly used. All colours are used. Everyone in open areas
such as streets and parks are game. Inside homes or at doorways
though, only dry powder is used to smear each other's face. People
throw colours, and get their targets completely coloured up. It is
like a water fight, but where the water is coloured. People take
delight in spraying coloured water on each other. By late morning,
everyone looks like a canvas of colours. This is why Holi is given the
name "Festival of Colours."Groups sing and dance, some playing drums.
In south India, some worship and make offerings to Kaamadeva, the love
god of Indian mythology, on Holi.After a day of play with colours,
people clean up, wash and bathe, sober and dress up in the evening and
greet friends and relatives by visiting them and exchange sweets. Holi
is also a festival of forgiveness and new starts, which ritually aims
to generate harmony in the society.