Holi festival of colours

Holi is also called the Festival of Colours or sometimes the Festival of Love. It is celebrated mostly in India and Nepal and, chiefly a Hindu event, it is observed by other religions including Sikhs, Jains and also the Buddhists among the Newar people in Nepal. But now, thanks to the event popularity, the festival is celebrated in few European countries too. Nowadays, the streets across most of India turn into a playground where people of all faiths throw coloured powder and water at each other. Bollywood music is blaring in the background... Most of the songs were from Allahabad native Amitabh Bachchan's films - Ramba ho ho ho, Mere anganey mein and, of course, Rang Barse from Silsila.

Holi has also become our most exportable festival. The Holi Cow festival in Delhi, which happens every year on Holi, is crawling with expats and foreign tourists. Last year, the video for Coldplay's Hymn for the Weekend featured members of the band and Beyoncé dancing in swirls of colour.

Coldplay's dancing in swirls of colour

Holi is celebrated on the full moon day of March month. At night a bonfire is lit. People wish each other Happy Holi and put dry color of Gulal on each others face. People also splash colored water on each other with water guns or water balloons. Holi is also an agricultural festival to celebrate the arrival of the spring.

But from where does this event comes from?

We obviously have to speak about the story of Holika...

King Hiranyakashyapu called himself a God and made people to pray for him only. He and his sister Holika were evil and cruel. But king’s son Prahlad didn’t pray for his father and prayed Lord Vishnu. The king was very angry with Prahlad and tried to kill him many times. Lord Vishnu was very fond of Prahlad. He protected Prahlad many times. One day, the angry king told his sister Holika to take Prahlad in his lap and sit on a fire. Holika wrapped herself in a shawl which was protecting her from burning. However, Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad this time also. Nothing happened to Prahlad but a strong wind came and blew away Holika’s shawl. And Holika burnt in the fire. So every year bonfire is made which is also called as Holika Dahan (burning) to burn away evil things and praying for good things.

...but also about the funny story of Radha-Krishna.

As a young man Lord Krishna was very naughty. He used to play pranks on the girls of his village. He always used catapult and stones to break the water matakas (mud pots) that the girls were carrying their heads. And make them all wet. So whenever girls could catch him they would splash water on him. Also, Krishna as a kid often use to complain to his mother about Radha’s fair colour and his dark. So his mother told him to put some colour on Radha’s face so that she will not be fairer than him at least for sometime. And he did the same. From then on Holi is always played by putting Color and splashing water on each other.

And today, how this festival takes place?

The date of Holi is decided by Hindu calendars, which usually follow the moon (although some are based on the sun), but it is principally celebrated in the month of Phalgun (February-March).

In 2017, the Indian government has stated that Holi were on Monday, March 13, which will be a national holiday. In the Indian towns of Barsana and Nandgaon, a local variation known as the Lathmar Holi celebration takes place several days before the actual Holi festival.

Celebrations begin the night before with Holika Dahan, which means Holika's Death. Bonfires are lit to burn an effigy representing the female demon Holika in a symbolic destruction of evil. Worshippers gather wood for the fire in the days before the event and build bonfires in parks and open spaces near temples. They also buy coloured powder, food and drinks for the celebrations. When the fire is lit, worshippers gather around it, singing, dancing and praying for any evil within themselves to be banished.

On the day of Holi itself, people chase each other and throw coloured powder, or spray coloured water. It seems to be the friendship and love event...

Friendship...
...Love

But an image is worth a thousand words, then just put 2 minutes of your time aside and take a look at this video recap, and why not going to the next London session in July...

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