Holi, also known as the Festival of Colours, is the craziest festival on the planet. This popular festival is observed in India and throughout the world by the Indian diaspora. Every Indian indulges themselves in celebrating it with various colours and water balloons. Apart from colours and water balloons, loud music, drums, thandai and bhaang (drink) are an essential part of this festival.
Holi signifies a victory of good over bad. According to ancient mythology, there is a legend of King Hiranyakashipu with whom the festival Holi is associated.
History of Holi
Hiranyakashipu, a demon king, was a mighty king in ancient history. He wanted to take revenge from Lord Vishnu who killed his younger brother. Hence to gain power, the demon king prayed for years. God finally granted him a boon. However, after obtaining the blessing, Hiranyakashipu started considering himself ultimate God and asked his people to worship him like God.
He started torturing people who worship God instead of praising him. The cruel king even brutally tortured his young son named Prahalad who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. The hard-hearted King decided to kill his son because Prahalad refused to worship him.
He made a plan to burn Prahalad, and so asked his sister ‘Holika’, who was immune to fire, to sit on a pyre of fire with Prahalad in her lap. However, their plan did not go through as Lord Vishnu saved Prahalad and instead, Holika burnt to ashes. The death of Holika signifies the burning of all that is evil.
Hence, in some states of India like Bihar, Punjab etc. a pyre in the form of bonfire is lit on the day before Holiday to remember the death of evil.
But how did colours become part of Holi?
It is a popular belief that Lord Krishna (reincarnation of Lord Vishnu) used to celebrate Holi with colours with his friends at Vrindavan and Gokul. So till date, Holi celebrations at Vrindavan are unmatched.
Holi: a spring festival
Holi is an important spring festival to say goodbye to winters. It falls every year on Poornima (full moon day) in the Phalguna month of the Hindu calendar.
Nevertheless, this festival is also associated with spring harvest. Farmers refill their stores with new crops, and so they celebrate Holi as a part of their happiness. Due to this, farmers also call it as ‘Vasant Mahotsava’ and ‘Kama Mahotsava’.
An ancient festival
Holi had started several centuries before the birth of Christ. This festival is mention in ancient religious books like Jaimini’s Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutra. Even the temples of ancient India have sculptures of Holi on walls.
One temple from the 16th century in Hampi, the capital of Vijayanagar, has many scenes from Holi which are being sculpted on its walls. The paintings show princes and princesses along with their servants holding pichkaris to squirt water on royals.
This age-old festival is not a one-day festival. People thoroughly enjoy this festival with Water guns and water-filled balloons and smearing colours on each other. In the evening after sobering up, people visit friends and family with sweet and drinks.
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