HOLI: The Festival of Colors

Who doesnt like playing with colours and enjoying the delicacies of the festival of Holi. Lets have a look on this amazing festival celebrated across India.

The Story Behind Holi

The story of Holika Dahan

Vaikuntha is the abode of the mighty Vishnu. Vaikuntha is said to be a paradise like no other, regarded as the highest spiritual realm that one could attain, according to Hindu mythology. The name itself means ‘the abode of eternal bliss. The entrance to this magnificent realm is guarded by the twin deities, Jaya and Vijaya. One day, four Kumaras, named Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatana, and Sanatkumara, arrived at the entrance of Vaikuntha. By virtue of their tapas or austerities, they appeared to be children but, in reality, they were very old and spiritually advanced. Tempted by the world inside, they walked towards the gates. As they were about to enter the spiritual realm, they were stopped by Jaya and Vijaya, the dwarapalakas or gatekeepers of Vaikuntha. Considering them children, Jaya and Vijaya arrogantly declared that they could not be allowed inside the abode of Vishnu. They inform the Kumaras that Vishnu could not be disturbed as he was resting. The duo was unaware that these four Kumaras happened to be the mind-born sons or manasaputras of Brahma.


The Kumaras challenged Jaya and Vijaya’s words by saying that they were devotees, and Vishnu is always available for his devotees. Enraged by the slight, they cursed the twin gatekeepers to lose their divinity and take birth in the material world. On being cursed, Jaya and Vijaya let go of their arrogance and pleaded with the Kumaras to revoke the curse. Hearing the commotion, Vishnu enquired. Learning about this incident, Vishnu left his abode to sort out the issue. All present at the gate bowed as Vishnu appeared at the entrance. Vishnu turned to his gatekeepers and told them that the curse of a Kumara could not be revoked. Instead, he could modify the curse. He gave them two options; either they could be born seven times as devotees of Vishnu, or three times as enemies of Vishnu. Either way, Vishnu would be a part of their mortal lives. Jaya and Vijaya could not stand the thought of being away from their master for seven lives, so they agreed to be born thrice as his enemies. After fulfilling the curse, they could return to their immortal forms as his gatekeepers. In the Satya Yuga, Jaya and Vijaya were born as the asuras Hiranyaksha and Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu viewed himself as God and needed everyone in his kingdom to worship him like one. In any case, his very own child, Prahlada, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and would not adore his dad. Furious with the defiance of his child, Hiranyakashipu took a stab at killing his child on various occasions, yet nothing worked. He at that point asked his insidious sister, Holika, for help. Holika had a unique intensity of being resistant to flame. Along these lines, to execute Prahlada, she deceived him into sitting with her on fire. In any case, because of her malicious aims, her capacity ended up inadequate and she was signed to fiery debris. Then again, Prahlada picked up this invulnerability and was spared. This is the reason the principal day of Holi is commended as Holika Dahan and symbolizes the triumph of good over malevolence.

The story of Radha and Krishna

In the locale of Braj in UP, Holi is celebrated until the day of Rangpanchmi as an immense celebration, in memory of the reverential love of Krishna and Radha. A neighbourhood legend is related to this also. At the point when Krishna was an infant, he gained an unmistakable blue skin shading subsequent to drinking the harmed bosom milk of the she-devil spirit, Putana. Afterwards, when he wound up youthful, he would regularly feel dismal about whether the reasonable hued Radha or different young ladies in the town could ever like him on account of his dull shading. Yielding to his distress, Krishna's mom requested that he proceed to shade Radha's face with any shading he needed to. So when Krishna connected shading to Radha, they both turned into a couple, and from that point forward, individuals have begun playing with colours on Holi.

Different Ways of Celebrating Holi

Here is how the festival of colours is celebrated in different parts of the country.

1. Rang Panchami – Maharashtra

In Maharashtra, Holi is also known as Shigma or Rang Panchami (colour on the fifth). The celebrations start after the sunset on Purnima by lighting up a pyre of firewood (burning Holika), symbolizing the victory of good over evil.

Rang Panchami

The next day is ‘Rang Panchami,’ which witnesses all the fun and frolic of people applying colour - ‘gulaal - and spraying water (or toppling entire buckets of coloured water) on each other. You also get to gorge on a special delicacy of the state called ‘Puran Poli.’ The festival is celebrated by singing, dancing and preparing delicious delicacies as an offering to god.

2. Lathmar Holi & Holi Milan - Uttar Pradesh

You will find this quirky way to celebrate Holi in Uttar Pradesh. In Barsana, Mathura and Vrindavan areas, women run after men with lathis or canes and playfully hit them during this celebration. The men come prepared with a ‘dhal or shield. Hence it is called the Lathmar Holi and is celebrated a week before the Holi festival.

Thousands of people gather to witness this frenzied version of Holi. Men and women sing popular Holi songs and shout chants to Radha and Krishna. Outside this region, in Kanpur, Holi lasts for seven days, and the last day has a grand fair called Ganga Mela or the Holi Mela.

In Gorakhpur, Holi begins with a special pooja and through the day brotherhood is celebrated among people. They celebrate it as "Holi Milan," during which people visit each other’s houses, sing Holi songs, and express their love for each other by applying colour.

3. Holla Mohalla- Punjab

Punjab celebrates ‘Hola Mohalla,’ which looks, sounds, and feels like Holi for warriors! It is celebrated a day before Holi.

The celebration exhibits a profound display of martial arts, horse-riding, and reciting poetry, primarily to pay homage to the bravery of Sikh warriors, particularly to the sect known as ‘Nihang Sikhs. This is later followed by music, dance and colour.

4. Shigmo- Goa

The spring festival in Goa is called Shigmo. It is organized as a massive carnival with traditional folk songs and street dances, apart from playing with colours. As Goa is a coastal state with the primary occupation being fishing, fishermen’s boats are vibrantly decorated with religious and mythological themes.

There are two customs of celebrating Shigmo: ‘Dhakto Shigmo and Vhadlo Shigmo, meaning small Shigmo and big Shigmo, respectively. ‘Dhakto Shigmo is celebrated by the rural population, farmers and labourers, while ‘Vhadlo Shigmo is celebrated by everyone else.

5. Royal Holi- Udaipur

As the name suggests, Holi celebrations are done in Udaipur on a grand scale. Known as the kingdom city of ancient Mewar, the traditional festivities of this dynasty are continued till today by the Mewar royal family.

On the eve of Holi, the bonfire is lit by the current custodian and the effigy of ‘Holika is burnt. A flamboyant parade of decorated horses and the royal band follows. It’s quite a spectacle!

6. Manjal Kuli- Kerala

Down south, Holi is not as popular as it is in other states. However, Kerala celebrates its own genre of festivities around this time with traditional folk songs and water colours containing turmeric.

The celebration happens only in a handful of temples and is a rather peaceful one where locals, especially from the Konkani and Kudumbi communities (that migrated from Goa), visit the temple on the first day and continue with the festivities on the second day.

The festival of Holi unites the varied people of India. It celebrates the uniqueness and relevance of each tradition, giving a sense of pride and teaching us the importance of overcoming evil with good.

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