Share Some Joyous Moments With The Colors Of Holi
About puja

The festival of Holi is held in the month of February every year. It is also known as the festival of colors where people color each other with the help of dry colored powders or colored water. It is also called the festival of love where people forget their enmities and rebuild their relationships with each other. The end of winter and the arrival of spring are welcomed by Hindus all over the world through this festival. The festival has spread among other communities also and also to other countries like Europe and North America where everybody enjoys the proceedings greatly.

Legendary significance of festival

Legend says that the demon king Hiranyakashipu was blessed with a boon from Lord Brahma of indestructibility. It made him arrogant, and he started to think of himself as being a god. He wanted everybody to worship him instead of other gods and goddesses. Everybody did except his own son Prahlad who was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu was very angry with his son and put him through a lot of cruel and punishing events to wean him away from Lord Vishnu but failed in his objective.

Finally Holika, Hiranyakashipu’s sister, used her wiles to fool Prahlad to sit by her on a wooden pyre and then set it aflame. She wore a cloak that would save her from the fire but not Prahlad, who did not wear one. With the intervention of Lord Vishnu, the cloak came off from around Holika and wrapped Prahlad instead. Prahlad was saved while Holika perished. The ash from this fire signifies the victory of good over evil and people started putting this ash on their foreheads. Later on colored powders came into use, and the present form of the festival uses powder with a large variety of colors.

Festival of love

The school of thought in the Mathura-Vrindavan region of Northern India says that that it is a festival of love signified by the romance and love between Lord Krishna and Radha which brought them together. In his early childhood, Lord Krishna had been poisoned by demoness Putana who had tried to kill him by feeding breast milk that contained poison. The poison had made Lord Krishna’s skin blue. When Krishna Met Radha he immediately fell in love with her but was full of despair thinking that the fair-skinned Radha would not accept him because of his blue skin.

Lord Krishna approached his mother in desperation and asked what he could to get Radha’s attention. His mother told him to put colored powder on his face to hide his blue skin and approach Radha to see how she reacts. Seeing Krishna with colored powder on his face, Radha also wanted her faced to be colored with the same powder so that both of them looked alike. The eternal story of love starts when these two people come together and form the most beautiful couple in the world. The festival of Holi depicts the coloring of Radha’s face with colored powder.

Festivities spanning a week

The start of the festivities occurs almost a week before the actual date of the celebrations. The preparations and the actual ceremony consist of the following steps:

  1. People start collecting firewood and keep them in piles in central places like parks, open spaces of community areas and elsewhere where everybody can gather together to see the bonfire. An effigy of Holika is kept on top of the gathered wood to be consumed by the flames, later.
  2. On the eve of the festival, in the evening after sunset, the gathered wood is set alight signifying the burning pyre on which Prahlad and Holika had sat upon side by side. It is the moment of “Holika Dahan” when the evil trickster is burnt to death while the good is spared. The people sing and dance praising the victory of good over evil.
  3. The week long program culminates with the arrival of the day after the day of “Holika Dahan”. People come out to the streets and celebrate the victory by using colorful powders and colored water to put on others. They use balloons and “pitchkaris” filled with colored water to spray others with colored water. Even people staying indoors are not spared as they are also either sprayed with colored water or covered with colored powder. By afternoon, the people have all kinds of colors like pink, green, red, yellow, purple, blue, and other colors on them. People come out with drums and other musical instruments and go around the locality singing and dancing with joy after being delivered from evil.
  4. At the end of the day, people have a bath put on fresh clothes and clothes go about visiting their friends and relatives to enjoy the sweets that are prepared for this occasion.
Variants of festival

The same festival is known in different regions of India with different names. Some of them are given below:

 

  1. In parts of Uttar Pradesh, the festival is called “Lath Mar Holi” where men provoke women by chanting and singing. The women respond by beating them with sticks and driving them away. All the while other sing songs dedicated to Lord Krishna and Radha. In other places of Uttar Pradesh, the festival lasts for almost seven days after which a fair called the “Ganga Mela” or “Holi Mela” is held. It was started by the veterans of the First War of Independence fought in 1857 against British rule.
  2. The festival is called “Kumaoni Holi” when people gather to sing spiritual songs based on various ragas. Classical music is also played. The people from neighboring villages try to steal the “Cheer” or wooden pyre of others. A type of natural dye called “Dulhendi” is used by the villagers instead of synthetic colors to put on others.
  3. The people of Gujrat celebrate Holi for two days in the month of “Phalgun” with music, dance and eating. Boys make human pyramids get to a pot of buttermilk hung high above the streets while girls spray the boys with colored water to prevent them from stealing the butter. The boy who breaks the pot is declared the “King”. Men go about in processions and warn households that the butter in their houses may get stolen by the cowherds.
  4. The name given to this festival in West Bengal is “Dol Jatra” or “Dol Purnima”. Girls and boys put on saffron clothes and sing and dance with musical instruments giving the company. People enjoy putting colored powder or “Abir” on others while the head of the family performs prayers after fasting asking for the blessings of Lord Krishna. Malpoa and sandesh make up the traditional sweets that are offered to the guests.
  5. In Orissa, the festival is known as “Dola” where Radha and Krishna are replaced by Jagannath, Balbhadra and Subhadra whole are transported to the “Dolmandapa” in large chariots. “Abir” is used on others to commemorate the occasion.
  6. The people of Karnataka call the festival “Kamadahana”, collect money and wood, pile the wood in open spaces and burn it on the eve of the auspicious day. Andhra Pradesh celebrates the festival along with Basant Panchami” while the people of Tamil Nadu celebrate the “Vasanthosavam” accompanied by singing, dancing and music.
  7. The festival is known as “Phagua” in Bihar. The people of Bihar gather wood in main locations for a week and burn it like a pyre on the eve of the festival accompanied by songs and dances. Next day they come out of their homes, roam the streets and put colorful powder on anyone they find. Some of the youngsters prefer to use water mixed with clay and mud instead of colors to put them on others.
  8. The Punjabi people celebrate the festival with “Holika Dahan” and paint others with colorful powders. It is known as “Phakuwa” or “Dol Jatra” in Assam. Holi is known as “Sigmo” in Goa while the people in Maharashtra call it “Shimga.”