a spring festival celebrated in India. It is also called the “festival of
colours”. In West Bengal and Orissa of India it is known as Dolyatra (Doul Jatra) or Basanta-Utsav ("spring
festival"). The most celebrated Holi is that of the Braj region, in
locations connected to the god Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon, and
celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the
lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls
in the later part of February or March.
The main day,
Holi, also known as Dhuli Vandana in Sanskrit, also Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing coloured powder and
coloured water at each other. Bonfires are lit the day before, also known as
Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). The
bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad
accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into
the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu,
escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is
referred to as Kama Dahanam in South India.
Holika Dahan: The Holi bonfire
The main emphasis
of the festival is on the burning of the holy fire or Holika. The origin of the
traditional lighting of Holi is attributed by some to the burning of demonesses
like Holika, Holaka and Putana who represent evil, or to the burning of Madan
according to others. Traditionally a bonfire on the day of Holi, marks the
symbolic annihilation of Holika the demoness as described above. This is set
fire to after ritualistic worship, and people make pradakshina of the
bonfire. The next day this victory is celebrated as the day of Dulhendi.
In Vaishnava Theology,
Hiranyakashipu is the king of demons, and he had been granted a boon by Brahma,
which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was due to his
long penance, after which he had demanded that he not be killed "during
day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or on sky; neither by a
man nor an animal; neither by astra nor by shastra". Consequently, he grew
arrogant and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop
worshipping gods and start praying to him.
Hiranyakashipu&prism;s own son, (Prahlada), was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. In spite of
several threats from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada continued offering prayers to
Lord Vishnu. He was poisoned but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He
was ordered to be trampled by elephants yet remained unharmed. He was put in a
room with hungry, poisonous snakes and survived. All of Hiranyakashipu&prism;s
attempts to kill his son failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlada to sit on a
pyre on the lap of his demoness sister, Holika, who could not die because she
also had a boon which would prevent fire from burning her. Prahlada readily
accepted his father&prism;s orders, and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the
fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while
Prahlada survived unharmed, the burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.
Later Lord Vishnu
came in the form of a Narasimha (who is half-man and half-lion) and killed
Hiranyakashipu at dusk (which was neither day nor night), on the steps of the
porch of his house (which was neither inside the house nor outside) by
restraining him on his lap (which is neither in the sky nor on the earth) and
mauling him with his claws (which are neither astra nor shastra).
In Vrindavan and Mathura,
where Lord Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until
Rangpanchmi) in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Lord
Krishna is believed to have popularized the festival by playing pranks on the gopis
here. Krishna is believed to have complained to his mother about the contrast
between his dark skin complexion and Radha&prism;s (Shakti or energy that drives the
world) fair skin complexion. Krishna&prism;s mother decided to apply colour to
Radha&prism;s face. The celebrations officially usher in spring, the celebrated
season of love.
Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami
(fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colours.
alternative story detailing the origin of Holi. This story is about Kamadeva, a
god of love. Kama&prism;s body was destroyed when he shot his weapon at Shiva in
order to disrupt his meditation and help Parvati to marry Shiva. Shiva then
opened his third eye, the gaze of which was so powerful that Kama&prism;s body was
reduced to ashes. For the sake of Kama&prism;s wife Rati (passion), Shiva restored
him, but only as a mental image, representing the true emotional and spiritual
state of love rather than physical lust. The Holi bonfire is believed to be
celebrated in commemoration of this event.
Rituals of Holi
are perennial rituals attached to Holi: the first is smearing of coloured
powder on each other, and throwing colour and scented water at each other using
pichkaris (shaped like giant syringes or squirt guns). Though the festival
really begins many days in advance, with "Holi Milan" or Baithaks, musical
soirees, where songs related to the festival, and the epic love story of Radha
Krishna are sung; a special type of folk songs, known as "Hori," are
sung as well. Some classical ones like Aaj biraj mein Holi re rasiya have been traditional for many generations. holi is famous festival of hindu
ingredients of the celebration are Abeer and Gulal, in all possible colours.
Next comes squirting of coloured water using pichkaris. Coloured water is
prepared using Tesu flowers, which are first gathered from the trees, dried in
the sun, and then ground up, and later mixed with water to produce
orange-yellow coloured water. Another traditional Holi item now rarely seen is
a red powder enclosed in globes of Lakh, which break instantly and cover the
party with the powder.
also begin many days in advance, with assemblage of Gujia, Papads, Kanji and
various kinds of snack items including Malpuas, Mathri, Puran poli, and Dahi
badas, which are served to Holi guests. The night of Holi, the baithak take
turns churning bhang (cannabis) into intoxicating milk shakes and they make
sweet laddoos mixed with bhang. Intoxicating bhang is consumed with a variety
of mouth watering delicacies such as pakoras and thandai to enhance the mood of
the festival. Vast quantities of liquor are consumed alongside ganja and bhang,
which is sometimes added to foodstuffs.
In West bengal -
Traditional dishes include Malpoa, Kheer, Sandesh, Saffron milk, Payash,
and related foods are prepared.
It is said the
spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the
enemies turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions
participate in this joyous and colourful festival and strengthen the secular
fabric of the nation
can be seen among people playing with colours. Children take special delight in
spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and ballons filled with
coloured water. Women and men form groups called Tolis and move in colonies
applying colours and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of Dholak
and mouthwatering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.
The spring festival of Holi brings lots of excitement along
with it. All through the day, people are busy in merrymaking and relishing on
delicious sweets and scrumptious pakode. Taking thandai mixed with Bhang and
several other kinds of drinks is also a trend on this occasion. Pakoras and
vadas make an interesting companion with these drinks, varieties of pakoda and
vadas are made on the occasion of Holi that includes the Onion Bhajia, Aloo Chaat, Papdi Chaat, Vegetable Pakora, Kanji Ke Vade,
Namkeen Pare, Dahi Bhalle. Sweets are the vital element of
Holi celebrations in any part of India
One of the most popular desserts of Holi is "Gujhia", which is a must for every
Indian home during the season. Then, there are "papris" and "dahi vade" or ‘ dahi-bhalles’ that are
prepared in majority of Indian homes on the occasion. The intoxicating "bhaang-ke-vade"
and ‘thadai’, the sauf and bhang sherbat are the special recipes reserved for
the Holi celebrations.
Jaljeera - All
through the day, people indulge in merrymaking, relish on melt-in-the-mouth
sweets and enjoy having Thandai that is mixed with Bhang. Since eating pakoras
and vadas made of bhang and drinking thandai made of bhang is a tradition that
is followed since ages, people do not miss out their part of the drink.
However, if you want to try out something different, very unconventional for
Holi, then make Jaljeera.
Thandai - After playing an exciting, yet tiresome Holi,
people would head towards the kitchen to get their hands on the sweets and
thandai prepared especially for the day. Thandai is a refreshing drink that is
a specialty of Holi. It soothes the mind and cools the body. The drink is a
great stress buster as well, because it contains some of the cooling agents of
nature, such as watermelon and rosewater.
India is known for its diverse culture and ethnicity. Holi is the festival for
spreading good cheer and enjoying to the fullest. People smear colors over
their loved ones, playfully. Enticing delicacies, including sweets, thandai and
snacks are prepared to satisfy the taste buds, after playing a frivolous Holi.
It is said that the festival refreshes the body and the soul, because it is all
about letting your hair down and banishing all you’re of everyday life.