The Holi celebrations feature plenty of colorful displays. Attending a Holi festival is an amazing feeling that will lift your heart, inspire your spirit, fill you with joy and recharge your batteries for the months ahead.
Holi, also known as the festival of colors, is one of the greatest annual festivals in the Hindu religion and is celebrated in India, Nepal as well as other parts of the world.
This festival is full of joy and gaiety as it marks the onset of spring and is often referred as the festival of sharing love.
When is Holi celebrated? What are the dates for celebrating Holi?
The celebration takes place between February and March every year and according to the Hindu calendar, this is the month of Falgun. The Holi festival lasts between two to three days starting on the full moon day (Purnima).
Start date: Sunday, the 12th day of March, 2017.
End date: Monday, the 13th day of March, 2017.
Start date: Thursday, the 1st day of March, 2018.
End date: Friday, the 2nd day of March, 2018.
Start date: Wednesday, the 20th day of March, 2019.
End date: Thursday, the 21st day of March, 2019.
Start date: Monday, the 9th day of March, 2020
End date: Tuesday, the 10th day of March, 2020.
Why is Holi Festival celebrated?
Holi is celebrated for several, connected reasons. Firstly, it celebrates the coming of spring. But, it also is celebrated as a way of:
- performing traditional and religious rituals,
- celebrating the triumph of good over evil,
- spreading love and joy,
- giving thanks for a plentiful harvest, and
- getting together with family and friends.
Also read: Why do we celebrate Holi Festival?
Who celebrates Holi?
Holi is a Hindu festival and is, therefore, primarily observed by those who practice Hinduism. Though most popular in India and Nepal, Holi celebrations have spread worldwide. In countries and geographical areas with a significant Indian diaspora, Holi is still celebrated. In cities in both the US and the UK, for example, Holi festivals are held in public and they are very popular, even though there are not large Hindu populations in those cities.
This joyful festival attracts people of all ages; young or old, men or women. Many people who are not Hindus come to celebrate Holi too.
Also read: Happy Holi – Messages, Wishes, and Greetings
Origin and History of Holi.
Holi has its origins in Hindu rituals and started way back in the Ancient times. In fact, as early as in the poetry of the fourth century, Holi was celebrated.A festival known as Holi is mentioned in ancient Hindu texts, including the Dasakumara Charita and the Puranas.
There are different stories put forth to explain the origin of the Holi festival. However, the most popular ones are the legend Holika Dahan and Radha-krishan. Here is a look at the two versions:
- Holika: It is said that the festival originated from the legend of Holika the demoness. She had been contracted by her brother, the evil King Hiranyakashipu, to kill his son Prahlad who had refused to worship him but instead worshiped Lord Vishnu. Holika sat with the king’s son on a pyre after tricking him. Holika was supposed to be immune to fire because she wrapped herself with a fire-resistant cloth. However, the piece of fire-resistant cloth flew from her and wrapped itself around Prahlad. Thus, Prahlad was left safe. The evil king was then destroyed by Lord Vishnu who appeared in the form of Lord Narasimha. Holika’s defeat signified victory of good over evil no wonder the festival is called Holi.
- Radha and Krishna legend: The tradition of colors dates back to the ancient period when legend Krishna and Radha lived as a couple. Krishna had a dark complexion and was always jealous of his love Radha who had a fairer skin. Due to this, Krishna decided to apply colors on Radha’s face. Since then, Holi is celebrated as a sign of love between people by coloring each other.
How is Holi celebrated?
As befitting its alternative designation, The Festival of Colors, this festival is celebrated with colorful clothing, lights, paints and powders. The festival of colors is marked over two days.
- Holika Dahan is observed on the night before the main Holi festival. People gather and light up a ritual Holika bonfire. It involves the lighting of bonfires to commemorate the victory of good over evil. People do religious rituals in front of the bonfire while praying for their internal sins to be cleansed.
- The next morning is the main Holi celebration: Rangwali Holi. The powders are flung into the air, covering the celebrants. It starts with throwing colored powder and painting one another, dancing, beating drums and singing. They keep chanting ‘Holi hai’ while roaming down the lanes. All celebrants end up with their bodies brightly colored.
Social gatherings such as parties with food are organized at several places. Parties, and spending time with friends, family and other loved ones are also crucial aspects of Holi. Moreover, giving out sweets and delicacies is another important part of the festival’s celebrations. It is easy to see why this festival is known too as The Festival of Spreading Joy.
As Holi is also a religious festival and part of the Hindu calendar, worshippers also use the occasion as a reason to pay a visit to their local temples.
Also read: How is Holi Celebrated?
The Significance of the Festival.
- Showcases the ‘Hindus’ way of life: It is significant in the Hindu culture because it brings people together and showcases the Hindus’ way of life.
- Symbol of Good over evil: Holi celebrates all that is spiritually good in the world: good, knowledge and love. The triumph of all these good things over evil and ignorance is another aspect of the festival’s significance that cannot be ignored.
- Social distinction comes to an end: On this day people belonging to all castes and creed greet each. They forget their class differences and play holi with full fun.
- Love: This festival signifies love among family members as well as outsiders.
- Spritual renewal: Holi is a time for spiritual renewal and for putting away old grudges.
- Cultural importance: There are also cultural importance since on this day any people take it as the time to forgive, pay and forgive debts, the start of spring season which is a period of joy and thanksgiving for harvests.
- Mend relationships: Holi is used to mend relationships because it is a day marked to usher in new and better days.
- Quality time with family and friends: Holi is a day to catch up with friends and family and to spend some quality time with them.
Also read: Why Holi Festival is so Important?
Every year, Holi is marked with pomp and colour, but its religious significance is never lost amidst all the celebrations.