Holi is one of the most rollicking of Hindu festivals in India. It denotes the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Ancient mythology reveals that people originally celebrated Holi to mark the victory of good over evil.
The Story of Holi
Hiranyakashyap, the demon king, ordered his entire kingdom to worship only him, but there was a conflict when his own son Prahlad, was resolute about worshipping Lord Narayana instead. This enraged Hiranyakashyap and he commanded his evil sister Holika, to burn and destroy Prahlad in a pyre. However, Holika perished while Prahlad survived, thereby proving the power of good over evil. The vibrant colour play in Holi is associated with Lord Krishna, who smeared vivid colours on Radha and her female friends, popularly known as ‘Gopis’.
There are several traditions and rituals associated with Holi and celebrations vary from one state to another. Today, Holi is characterized by people smearing colours and throwing coloured water on each other’s faces and bodies. The singing, dancing, and all the colourful, moving bodies are truly a sight to behold. The traditional ‘Bhaang’ is an interesting must-try drink, especially if you are of an adventurous nature.
When Is Holi Celebrated?
Unlike some of the other festivals, Holi is not celebrated on a fixed date every year. It is usually celebrated in the month of March, on the day following the full moon.
The Spirit of Holi
Holi is a festival best celebrated with family and friends, its biggest strength being its ability to bring about oneness even among strangers. People from all walks of life are encouraged to come together and embrace one another in good spirit. It is also a great way to reconnect with your loved ones. In addition to the colour play, people also visit the homes of their loved ones and exchange greetings, gifts, and treats.
Best Places in India to Celebrate Holi
- The temple towns of Vrindavan and Mathura promise the best traditional Holi experience. People from across the country visit these places for a week-long celebration.
- Indore in Madhya Pradesh is another great place to experience Holi. Five days after Holi, the festival of Rang Panchami is also celebrated in Indore.
- The state of Manipur holds a 6-day long Holi celebration, which starts on the day of the full moon, also known as Phalguna. On the 6th day, devotees walk in a 3 kilometre procession to the Krishna Temple, west of the city of Imphal, where several cultural activities are arranged.
- Barsana in Uttar Pradesh has its own unique LathmarHoli celebration.Being the village of Lord Krishna’s beloved Radha, he would come here to tease her and girlfriends, and the women of the village chased him away. Continuing this tradition, the men from Nandgaon, Lord Krishna’s village, come to Barsana on Holi day, and the women chase them away with sticks.
Holi is about so much more than just the colours. It’s about faith and goodness. It carries an entire civilization’s history behind all the celebrations.