the holi spring festival

Holi aesthetic

Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival, a spring festival celebrated in India and Nepal, also known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love”. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships, and is also celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. This year (2017) it is celebrated on 13 March.

Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan where people gather, do religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil be destroyed the way Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was killed in the fire. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi – a free-for-all carnival of colors, where people smear each other with colors and drench each other. Water guns and water-filled balloons are also used to play and color each other. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colors occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw colored powders on each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks.  

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Holi, the ancient Hindu “Festival of Colors” that celebrates the arrival of spring and the end of winter, has been celebrated again this year in India. Participants playfully splash colorful paint, powder and water on each other in open streets. The festival lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day). This year, it was observed on March 13.

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Holi is a two-day spring festival, also known as the festival of colours, which starts on Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Hindu Calendar month of Phalgun (somewhere between the end of February and Mid-March, in the Gregorian Calendar).

This ancient festival is mentioned in the Puranas, and by the poet Kalidasa during the 4th century reign of Chandragupta II; the celebration of Holi is also mentioned in the 7th-century Sanskrit drama Ratnavali and in Dashakumaracharita, as well.  It is also believed that Krishna played Holi with the gopis (milkmaids)

Celebrations vary from region to region, but, in general, on the evening of the first day (Holika Dahan), people gather around a bonfire.

Holika was the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu. According to legends, he was the King of Multan and had earned a boon that made him indestructible. He grew arrogant, thought he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him.

Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada disagreed. He was and remained devoted to Lord Vishnu, which infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy. Finally, Holika - Prahlada’s aunt - tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was wearing a cloak 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, Prahlada survived. Seeing this, Hiranyakashipu, unable to control his anger, smashed a pillar with his mace. There was a tumultuous sound, and Lord Vishnu appeared as Lord Narasimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. The next day, when the fire cooled down, people applied ash to their foreheads, a practice still observed by some people. Eventually, coloured powder came to be used to celebrate Holi.

The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika

The second day of Holi represents a festive ocassion when people celebrate, play with colors, sing and dance. Everybody is welcomed to participate, irrespective of age, status or caste; it is a joyful opportunity to have fun, celebrate spring, celebrate the good that prevails over evil, a moment to forgive and forget, to repair broken relationships. 

Happy Holi!

telegraph.co.uk
Holi festival: Indian widows overturn 400-years of tradition to celebrate
Indian widows are traditionally not meant to partake in Holi - the auspicious festival of colour.

“Indian widows are traditionally not meant to partake in Holi - the auspicious festival of colour. But this March 21, thousands of widowed women gathered at temples in Vrindavan in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh to celebrate the spring festival.”

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Holi - India

Holi is a spring festival, known as the festival of colour, or the festival of love. It is the most widely celebrated Hindu festival. Though it is mainly observed in India & Nepal, celebrations have spread to other parts of the world, and is now celebrated by non religious people who enjoy the sentiment of love and colour that the festival stands for.