Celebrating Holi, India's Joyful Festival Of Colors And Love

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Holi, the spring festival of colors, is one of India's most popular celebrations (Credit: Steven Gerner/CC BY-SA 2.0 /Wikimedia Commons)

India is home to a wide variety of festivals, each of which is celebrated with much gusto. However, few are as exciting or as anticipated as Holi, the spring festival of colors. The fun holiday, observed annually on the last full moon day of Phalguna — the 12th and final month of the Hindu year — falls on March 29th this year.

Unlike the Holi-inspired "color runs," participants do not have to compete in five-or-ten-kilometer races prior to the celebrations. Instead, revelers simply take to the streets early in the morning, drenching strangers and friends alike with colored powder and water. The fun usually lasts till noon, after which the crowds head home or to nearby rivers and oceans for a quick rinse before settling down for a delicious feast and a much-needed siesta! While the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions will prevent the usual widespread outdoor celebrations this year, many will commemorate the event indoors at home, or in their backyards, with family members and close friends.

As with most Indian festivals, the myths associated with the centuries-old celebration differ across the country. One of the most popular folklores tells the story of Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons, who was unhappy with his young son Prahlada's devotion to Lord Vishnu — the protector of humanity. After all efforts to dissuade the young boy from worshipping Lord Vishnu failed, Hiranyakashipu asked his sister Holika for help. The heartless demon goddess, who possessed a magical shawl to protect her from flames, asked Prahlada to join her on a burning pyre.

However, as soon as Prahlada stepped into the fire, Holika's protective garment flew from her shoulders and encompassed the young boy. Soon after the demon goddess perished in the flames, Lord Vishnu appeared in the form of a half-man, half-lion and killed King Hiranyakashipu. The locals celebrated the victory of good over evil with colorful powder, and a fun tradition was born. To this day, many worshippers cleanse the air of evil spirits by igniting a bonfire on the eve of Holi.

Meanwhile, in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Holi commemorates the love between the mischievous Hindu deity Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha. While most celebrate the festival for just one day, residents of Krishna's birthplace— Nandgaon — have fun events planned for an entire month leading up to Holi. The highlight is Lathmar, or stick, Holi, which takes place a day before the main event. Legend has it that Lord Krishna and his cohorts descended upon the neighboring village of Barsana to tease Radha and her friends on this day, only to be chased away with sticks.

To reenact the event, men from Nandgaon arrive at Barsana once a year to stage a mock battle with the women. The women "attack" the men with bamboo sticks, while the men protect themselves with shields and try to fight back with the only weapon available — colored powder! Those unfortunate enough to get captured by the feisty females are forced to dress in women's clothing and dance for their captors. The fun continues the following day when the women of Barsana head to Nandgaon, armed with just colored powder, to celebrate Holi.

Regardless of the myth believed, Holi is a day of love when people of all ages and cultures come together, setting aside their worries and past feuds.

Happy Holi!

Resources: Wikipedia.org, Hindustantimes.com, Vice.com

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175 Comments
  • fomaloso-156773974534
    fomaloso-156773974534Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 9:20 pm
    This seems so fun!
    • iris123
      iris123Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 10:45 am
      i gotta remember to celebrate
      • barbielove
        barbieloveMonday, May 31, 2021 at 2:58 pm
        5million people celebrated it💕
        • blondie1218
          blondie1218Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 9:17 am
          Happy Holidays!
          • emeralddragon17
            emeralddragon17Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 7:18 pm
            Cool! I'm from India and i LOVE Holi
            • blondie1218
              blondie1218Sunday, May 23, 2021 at 9:19 am
              Does anyone know like what it is there? Like is it fun?
            • thewaitingpurge
              thewaitingpurgeThursday, May 20, 2021 at 10:42 am
              Looks very cool and interesting.
              • peppermint124
                peppermint124Tuesday, May 18, 2021 at 11:52 am
                I would love to go there with a beautiful Indian dress and dancing with my friends
                • ilovestories
                  ilovestoriesTuesday, May 18, 2021 at 7:32 am
                  now the part i like is where i get to hit men >:D
                  • iris123
                    iris123Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 10:44 am
                    me too, it's pretty funny >:DD
                  • seart29
                    seart29Monday, May 10, 2021 at 10:29 am
                    why would they hit men with sticks?!
                    • ilovestories
                      ilovestoriesTuesday, May 18, 2021 at 7:32 am
                      cause it's evil and fun >:D
                      • savagelove
                        savageloveTuesday, May 11, 2021 at 7:01 am
                        ya why would thay do that
                      • ashdog3131
                        ashdog3131Friday, May 7, 2021 at 9:01 am
                        My best friend is from India and I went to a festival and was able to get colors thrown on me it was fun