Holi: Festival of Colours

By Remitbee - Mar 26, 2021

Holi, the festival of colours, is the most colourful of all Hindu celebrations. It is the end of the winter season in India and the beginning of the spring season. People play with colours, meet and greet one another, and make new beginnings on this festive day. But do you know why Holi is celebrated in the first place? Here's what you need to hear about this vibrant festival.

Holi is one of India's most joyful festivals, with celebrations taking place in almost every part of the world. It is also known as the "heart festival" because, on this day, people come together to forget about their resentments and negative feelings toward one another. The great Indian festival begins in the evening of Purnima, or the Full Moon Day in the month of Falgun, and lasts for a day and a night.

On the first evening of the festival, it is known as Holika Dahan or Choti Holi, and the following day is known as Holi. It goes by various names in different parts of the world.

What is Holi?

Holi has been celebrated in India for decades, with poems dating back to the 4th century CE describing celebrations. It heralds the coming of spring after a long winter, and it is a sign of good triumphing over bad. It is observed in the month of March, which corresponds to the Hindu month of Phalguna. Holi will be celebrated on March 28th, 2021.

Several works of ancient Indian literature reference different versions of Holi's origin. According to one version of the story, an evil king became so powerful that his people were compelled to worship him as their god. Yet, much to the king's chagrin, his son Prahlada remained a devout follower of the Hindu god Vishnu. The angered king plotted to assassinate his son with the help of his niece, Holika. Holika, who was immune to flames, duped Prahlada into joining her in a pyre. When the pyre was lit, the boy's devotion to Lord Vishnu allowed him to escape unharmed, while Holika, the festival's name, was burned to death despite her immunity.

How is Holi celebrated?

Large pyres are lit in many parts of India on the eve of the festival to symbolize the burning of evil spirits. Wood, dried leaves, and twigs are often thrown into bonfires. Children and young people form groups to colour their targets using dry colours, coloured solutions and water guns (pichkaris), water balloons filled with coloured water, and other inventive methods.

Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colours like turmeric, neem, dhak, and kumkum were used, but commercial water-based pigments are becoming more popular. Plenty of colours are present. People throw coloured powder into the air and spray it on each other, turning entire streets and towns red, green, and yellow. Each colour has a distinct meaning.

For example, red represents love and fertility, while green represents new beginnings. In addition, people splash water on each other as a form of celebration. Water guns are used to squirt water, and coloured water balloons are often hurled from rooftops. Families get together later in the day for celebratory meals. It is also common to distribute sweets among neighbours and friends.

The festivities in the Braj region around Mathura, in north India, can last up to a week. The rites involve a day when men go around with shields and women have the right to beat them with sticks while they playfully beat them on their shields. Some people in south India worship and make offerings to Kamadeva, the Hindu god of love.

Colour vibrancy is something that brings a lot of positivity into our lives, and Holi, as the festival of colours, is a day to celebrate.

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