Happy Holi to You
Written by Sneh Chaudhry on March 19, 2022
Holi, also known as the festival of colours, is a religious occasion celebrated with much pomp. It is considered the second biggest Hindu festival after Diwali, and the celebrations last for two days – Choti Holi or Holika Dahan and Dhulandi or Rangwali Holi.
It marks the celebration of the victory of good over evil. The festival falls in the Hindu calendar month of Phalgun, which usually falls between February and March. On this day, people play with colours, water, flowers and more, children and adults smear Gulal on each other, and people seek the blessings of their elders. People visit their friends and relatives and also relish Holi delicacies like gujiya, thandai and more after playing Holi.
Holi is a celebration of the divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha. According to mythology, Lord Krishna was of a dark complexion and used to complain to his mother, Yashoda. Additionally, Radha was very fair, and Krishna used to be anxious if she would accept him despite the contrast in their complexion. So one day, Yashoda playfully suggested that Lord Krishna should smear Radha’s face with colours to remove the difference in their complexion. Krishna followed his mother’s advice and smeared Radha’s face. And that is how Holi celebrations began all over the country. This is why the festival is played with much pomp in Mathura and Vrindavan. It is also a harvest festival and marks the arrival of spring and the end of winter.
Another legend associated with Holi is of demon king Hiranyakashipu, his son Prahalad – a devotee of Lord Vishnu, and his demoness aunt, Holika. According to Hindu mythology, Hiranyakashipu was blessed with a boon that he could not be killed by either a man or any animal. He wanted people to worship him. However, when his son became a devotee of Lord Vishnu and refused to worship Hiranyakashipu, he asked his sister Holika to kill him by sitting on a pyre.
When Holika sat on the pyre, she donned her flame-shielding shawl and sat Prahlad on her lap. However, Prahlad began praying to Vishnu, who summoned a gust of wind that blew the shawl off Holika and onto Prahlad, saving him and letting her burn to death. This is why a day before Holi, Holika Dahan is celebrated.
After that, Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Narasimha, which was half human and half lion, and killed the demon king. That is why Holi is also known as the day when good wins over evil.