Holi, The Joyous Festival Of Colors, Is This Sunday!

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Holi (Photo Credit: Steven Gerner CC 2.0 via Flickr)

Holi, the spring festival of colors that will be celebrated on Sunday, March 12, is one of India’s most anticipated events. Observed annually on the last full moon day of the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna, the holiday entails taking to the streets early in the morning to douse strangers and friend alike, with colored powder and water. However, unlike the copycat color runs in the US, revelers do not have to race five or ten kilometers to participate!

As with all Indian festivals, there are numerous myths attached to the origin of Holi. The most popular one credits it to Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons, and his son Prahlada. According to the legend, the king was unhappy with his son’s devotion to Lord Vishnu, the protector of humanity. When all efforts to dissuade him failed, Hiranyakashipu turned to his sister Holika for help.

Lathmar Holi at Krishna Temple (Photo Credit: Narender9 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

The demon goddess, who was born with the power to resist heat, invited Prahlada to join her inside a burning fire. However, thanks to divine protection from Lord Vishnu, the young boy emerged unscathed, while the ‘fireproof’ Holika burned to ashes. The locals celebrated the victory of good over evil with colorful powder, and a fun tradition was born. To this day, Hindus everywhere cleanse the air of evil spirits by igniting a bonfire the night before Holi.

In the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Holi celebrates the love between the mischievous Hindu deity Krishna and his beloved Radhika. Since eternal devotion cannot be commemorated in a single day, the residents of Mathura, where Krishna was born, celebrate the festival for an entire month, with different events scheduled each day. The highlight is the Lathmar, or stick, Holi, which is celebrated a few days before the main event. On this day, women stage a mock battle to prevent men from placing a flag atop Radhika’s temple. The women 'attack' the men with bamboo sticks, while the men fight back with the only weapon at their disposal — colored powder!

Photo Credit: Steven Gerner CC 2.0 via Flickr

Though the reason for the origin may differ, the spirit of this colorful festival that marks the beginning of spring is the same. It is a day when people young and old shed their worries and inhibitions and come together to rejoice.

The celebrations usually end by midday, after which residents head home or to a nearby ocean or river for a quick rinse. Then it’s time for a scrumptious meal and a well-deserved siesta!

Resources: wikipedia.org, goindia.about.com

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anticipatedcleansecommemoratedcreditsdissuadedivinedouseeternalhighlighthumanityignitingmischievousmockmythsrevelersscrumptioussiestaunscathed
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Reading Comprehension (8 questions)

  1. What is Holi?
  2. When is it celebrated?

Critical Thinking Challenge

Why is it important to continue to practice cultural traditions?

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Vocabulary in Context

“On this day, women stage a mock battle to prevent men from placing a flag atop Radhika’s temple.”

In the above sentence, the word mock most likely means:

(a) To mimic,...

204 Comments
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  • glazthesniper
    glazthesniperWednesday, October 11, 2017 at 11:19 am
    yea cool im from indai and i celabrate this on indai and sometimes in new york im 5 grader so u know wat year im at
    • L dude Friday, October 6, 2017 at 8:11 am
      That would be so cool to go to!!
      • MaggieSaturday, September 30, 2017 at 4:01 pm
        I never been to a holi festival before so don't judge me
        • Tamaliyah❤️Sunday, July 2, 2017 at 4:11 pm
          I wish I were there that looks so fun!!!!❤️😁😔😱🎉🎉
          • murpha
            murphaTuesday, June 13, 2017 at 4:57 pm
            nice that looks awesome
            • helloThursday, June 1, 2017 at 3:27 pm
              that is so cool I wish we did that in nz
              • valWednesday, May 31, 2017 at 10:54 am
                that is so beautiful and colorful wish we did that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                • cuddlebug_rosie
                  cuddlebug_rosieFriday, May 19, 2017 at 9:15 am
                  awesome...
                  • kaleeMonday, May 1, 2017 at 11:36 am
                    so cool
                    • myatm101
                      myatm101Friday, April 28, 2017 at 10:07 am
                      colorful

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