The ‘Holi’ festival is a very fun-filled and popular occasion in the northern part of India. It is an occasion when people smear each other with bright colored powders, which are known as Gulal, and colored water. This festival is celebrated around early March each year. It can be said that ‘Holi’ festival is called a bright festival as a wide range of bright colors is used during it. The people believe that the bright colors represent energy, life, and joy.
Legends of Holi
There was once a demon king by the name of Hiranyakashyap who won over the kingdom of earth. He was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father. Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but Lord Vishnu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed. Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. The legend has it that Holika had to pay the price of her sinister desire by her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.
Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion.& Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika. And, is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil. Holi is also celebrated as the triumph of a devotee. As the legend depicts that anybody, howsoever strong, cannot harm a true devotee. And, those who dare torture a true devotee of god shall be reduced to ashes.
To start off the festival, preparations are usually made on the eve of Holi: huge bonfires are burnt as a symbol of its representation. These fires are created to ward off evil spirits around the place. 'Holi' is grandly celebrated in villages around Mathura, the place where Krishna is said to be born. Before the start of the festival, shops are busy selling ‘Gulal,’ the colored powders, and it is no surprise that the shops are flooded with festive shoppers. In preparation for the festival, new clothes are also bought for the family: it is a tradition for mothers to buy new clothes for their married daughters. On ‘Holi’, mothers let their children go out on the streets to indulge in the splashing of colors. Men like to wear white ‘Kurtas’ while ladies prefer to wear white saris, or ‘Salwar Khameez,’ on 'Holi'. One thing that is very attractive about this festival is the spirit of the people who celebrate the occasion. Whether they are young or old, all the people are lost in the joyful occasion, having fun throwing colors at each other. Even water balloons would be thrown at each other. When they splash colored water on passer-bys, it is common for the passer-bys to get involved in the color riots themselves. Even kids love this festival, as they enjoy being drenched in colored water. On this happy occasion, dances and folk songs are also important features in the festival.