Holi

The festival of color, spring, and love.

Image: S Pakhrin /  CC-BY-2.0

Holi

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Another name for Holi is Holika. Holi is one of the most renowned ancient festivals of Hindus. Holi is also known as the Fagu Purnima, the festival of color, spring, and love. Holi is celebrated in many different countries. Generally, Holi lasts for two to three days. It symbolizes the end of winter and the victory of the good spirit over the bad spirit. Therefore, Holi is celebrated by any kind of race, color, or ethnic groups like Newar’s, Chettri’s, Sherpa’s, and others including (Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, etc).

Importance of Holi

Holi plays an important role in cultural festivals for the well-being of the people. 

  • It ends the past errors and conflicts by meeting each other. 
  • It marks the beginning of the spring season. 
  • It is one of the playful cultural events, establishing peace and harmony. 
  • It is celebrated as gratitude for good health and the harvest of crops. 
  • It marks the end of evil spirits. 

Story and Myths behind Holi

It is believed that the Holi begins from the birth before Jesus Christ. Lord Vishnu murdered the younger brother of the king demon. The demon wants to eradicate lord Vishnu to subdue and rule heaven. With overwhelming anger, the autocrat king “Hiranyakashipu” decided to kill his son Prahlad with the help of his sister Holika. Prahalad disagreed with his father and always worshipped Lord Vishnu. His father ordered Holika to kill Prahlad. The next day, Holika pushed Prahlad to the flame but with the blessing of lord Vishnu Prahald was safe and Holika was burnt to death. 

As Holi is celebrated for the death of Holika which later Holi gets its name. It is believed that Holi is the day when Holika died. In simple terms, Holi is the celebration of Holika’s death.

How is Holi celebrated?

In Nepal, generally, Holi lasts for 2 days. There is a public holiday for everyone in Holi. It is celebrated on Chaturdashi before the full moon. In the Terai region and India, it is celebrated on the next day on the full moon. Holi is celebrated with lots of joy and happiness. People exchange color and colorful water with each other. Different colors like red, yellow, green, etc. are used to splash between family members, friends, relatives, and others. People wear white t-shirts with the printed logo of Happy Holi so that colors are clearly seen in white clothes keeping it for the next year as a memento. During Holi, people use various types of colors to fill a life full of happiness. Pichkari (Water Gun), water balloons, etc. are used to splash each other. Later in the evening, Bhang (a special kind of drink) is also consumed by the people. People can play Holi with strangers too. Therefore, everyone’s face is filled with joy and colors in Holi.

Day 1 (prepare Holika pyre for bonfire)

On this day people create bonfires. People started to gather wood and inflammable materials for bonfires in temples and other open places. Dummy or puppet is put on the top of the pyre which represents Holika who once tried to kill her brother “Prahlad” by burning him in the fire. Later people light the bonfire in the evening denoting Holika Dahan, conquering good spirits over evil spirits. People sing, dance, and perform parikrama of fire.

Day 2 (Rangwali Holi)

The second day of the Holi is known as the Dhuli or Dhulandi (in Sanskrit). The day started with a colorful (Rangwali) Holi. No rituals or puja is performed on this day. It is the day when people eat, drink, dance, and celebrate by sharing watercolors. People gather with their friends, relatives, family, and their loved ones, wish them a prosperous life, and put colors on each other’s faces. People also throw water balloons (Lola) with a combination of different colors. On this day, people play pranks, jokes, and water balloons saying “Happy Holi”.

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Other Festivals Celebrated by Hindus

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