Holi Celebrations in India-The Festival of Colours

Holi is one of the most popular festivals in India. It is also known as festival of colors or festival of love. It is an ancient Hindu festival and Holi celebrations in India are most popular. Now, this festival has become famous in non-Hindus as well. Holi has become popular in Europe and parts of North America. Holi is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm on full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March. Holi festival has an ancient origin and it celebrates the victory of good over bad. The festival of colors lessens the social gaps and rejuvenates sweet relationships. People rub ‘Gulaal’ and ‘abeer’ on each others’ faces and cheer up. People give gifts and blessings to the near and dear ones.

History and Origin of Holi

The Holi Festival gets its name from ‘Holika’ who was evil sister of demon king Hiranyakashipu. The festival originated from Prahlada-Puri Temple of Multan in Punjab region. According to ancient legendary story King Hiranyakashipu was king of Multan. He had gain a blessing of being nondestructive. He grew arrogant and thought he was God and wanted everyone to worship him. His own son however disagreed. He tried to punish Prahlada with cruel punishments but none affected him. Finally ‘Holika’ who was Hiranyakashipu’s sister and Prahlada’s evil aunt tricked him to sit on a pyre with her. Holika had gained a blessing in the form of a cloak that was to protect her from fire while Prahalada wasn’t. Prahlada escaped but Holika got burned. Seeing this, Hiranyakashipu became very angry and smashed a pillar and Lord Vishnu appeared as Lord Narasimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. On the next day people applied ash on each other foreheads. Now it is celebrated by using colourful powder.

Holi Celebrations in India and Importance

Holi celebrations are accomplished with a great zeal in the whole country. A night before Holi, bonfires are lit and people gather near fires, sing and dance. The occasion is known as Holika Dahan or little Holi. The next day, known as Dhulendi people spray colours solutions and smear colors on each other’s faces. Children fill water balloons with coloured water and throw at each other’s faces. Many other creative means are used to enjoy the festival. The festival is for full enjoyment and partying.

After playing with colors and cleaning up, people bathe and visit friends and family. In western India, a pot of buttermilk is hung high over the streets and young boys try to reach and break it with the help of human pyramids. Girls try to stop them by throwing coloured water on them. Holi celebrated in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh is very different where women chase men with sticks. Women turn offensive and use long staves to beat men and men protect themselves with shields. In Mathura this day is celebrated with special puja and worshiping Lord Krishna. The festival lasts for 16 days here.

In Kanpur area the Ganga mela or Holi mela is celebrated. In West Bengal, holi is known as ‘Dol Jatra’. The festival is celebrated by placing icons of Krishna and Radha on a decorated palanquin which is then taken around the main streets of the city. In Odisha the icons of Lord Krishna are replaced by Lord Jagannath. Holi is celebrated as festival of love all over the country. People forget old rivalries and hug each other. It is the day when people forgive for past errors and end conflicts by meeting other. It’s a day to forgive and forget. In many parts fairs are organized where people enjoy buying new things and artworks and children enjoy Ferris wheels.

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