Holi, Festival of colours

Bhagwat Gita colors festival fun Holi Holika Dahan Lord Vishnu Prahlad Radha Krishna

Holi is a major spring festival for Hindus, as well as a national holiday in Nepal and India, and also a regional holiday in other countries. It is a pleasant cultural event for many Hindus and some non-Hindus that permits people to fling colored water at friends or strangers in jest. It is also frequently observed on the Indian subcontinent.

Holi welcomes the spring season, the end of winter. The festival commemorates Radha Krishna's eternal and heavenly love. It also represents the triumph of virtue over evil. It's a fun day to meet new people, have fun and laugh, forget and forgive, and mend severed relationships. The event also marks the start of a prosperous spring crop season.

When is Holi Celebrated?

It begins on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon Day) in the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna/ Chaitra, which corresponds to the middle of March/April in the Gregorian calendar.

In 2021, Holi was celebrated in 28th and 29th March, 2021 in Nepal and India. 

How is this Festival of Holi celebrated?

Holi celebrations begin the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan, in which people assemble and perform religious rituals in front of a bonfire, praying that their internal evil be destroyed in the same way that Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was slain in the fire.

Holi Festival of Colors, love and laughter

The next morning is a color celebration in which people smear and bathe each other in various hues. Water pistols and water-filled balloons are also used for amusement and coloring. Anyone and everyone, friend or stranger, wealthy or poor, male or woman, youngsters and seniors, is fair game. Color frolics and fights take place in the open streets, parks, and outside temples and buildings. Groups travel from place to place carrying drums and other musical instruments, singing and dancing. People visit family, friends and adversaries gather to splatter colorful powder over each other, laugh and chat, and then share Holi specialties, food, and drinks. People dress up and visit friends and relatives in the evening.

What is the story behind holi festival?

A symbolic narrative explains why Holi is celebrated as a festival of good triumphing over evil in honor of the Hindu deity Vishnu and his follower Prahlada. According to a legend found in chapter 7 of the Bhagavata Purana, King Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada's father, was the king of demonic Asuras and had earned a boon that gave him five special powers: he could not be killed by a human or an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither day nor night, neither by astra (projectile weapons) nor by any shastra (handheld weapons), and neither on land. Hiranyakashipu became arrogant, believing himself to be God, and demanding that everyone worship only him.

Prahlada, Hiranyakashipu's own son, objected. He was and still is devoted to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu was enraged by this. He subjected Prahlada to harsh punishments that had no effect on the kid or his will to accomplish what he felt was right. Finally, Holika, Prahlada's wicked aunt, deceived him into joining her on a pyre. Holika was wearing a cloak that rendered her resistant to fire damage, but Prahlada was not. As the flames raged, God Vishnu saved Prahlada making Holika's cloak flew away and wrap Prahlada, who survived as Holika perished. 

Angered by this level of creulty upon his beloved believer, Vishnu, the god who appears as an avatar to restore Dharma, 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 Hiranyakashyapu at a doorstep (which was neither indoors nor outdoors), placed him on his lap (which was neither land, water, or air), and then eviscerated and killed the king with his lion claws (which were neither a handheld weapon nor a launched weapon).

The Holika bonfire and Holi festival commemorate the symbolic triumph of good over evil, Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and the fire that burnt Holika.

Holi Festival also is celebration of love, Radha-Krishna's love.

The event is based on a symbolic mythology. Krishna used to wonder if the fair-skinned Radha would appreciate him because of his dark skin color. Tired of his desperation, his mother Yashoda instructs him to visit Radha and request that she color his face in any color she desires. This Radha did, and Radha and Krishna were in love. Holi has been celebrated ever since the fun coloring of Radha and Krishna's faces.

Enjoy this festival of Colours song from Nepali classic historical movie Basanti.

Read more on most remarkable Hindu festivals on our dedicated blog posts

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