Holi is the festival of riot of colors. One of the most vibrant festivals associated with the India and one that best encapsulates the spirit and essence of India. The colors soak and tint everyone in its vicinity and submerges all differences and blends everyone into an organic whole.
Holi, the festival of victory of goodness over evil. It also heralds the onset of spring after a long, bleak winter and acts as ruse for many broken, dispirited hearts to forget, forgive and rejuvenate themselves and their relationships. It also is an act of gratitude towards almighty for having provided a good harvest.
The festival of Holi takes place on the day after the full moon in the Indian month of Falgun (spring) and usually happens either in late February or March. The eve of Holi is celebrated as ‘HolikaDahan’ and Chhoti Holi while the next morning is the actual day of ‘Holi’.
The popularity of this colorful festival has carried it beyond the Indian borders and it is now celebrated with pomp and fervor amidst the Hindu population of Nepal and the Indian diaspora residing in remote corners of the world.
Legend has it that Prahlad, the son of Hiranyakashyap was an avowed Lord Vishnu believer but this was not taken kindly by the demon king, Hiranyakashyap himself. So, he designated his demon sister Holika who had the gift of a fire-immune cloak to lure Prahlad into fire but as fate would have it she was incinerated in the same fire which left Prahlad unscathed. Hiranyakashyap himself was later vanquished by Lord Vishnu in his Narsimha Avtaar. People flock in huge numbers to light up bonfires on the Holi eve, to pray for the destruction of evil and the upholding of righteousness.
Holi, is also commemorating, in memory of Lord Krishna in his teenage years where he would indulge in fun and merry-making on the banks of River Yamuna with the young maidens of Braj and got the license to color Radha, his chosen one, in the color of his choice.
The next morning witnesses a sight like never before. People come out of their homes, walk across the street smearing their friends and relatives with dry colors, called ‘gulal’ or drenching them in an abandon of wet colors. Everything is considered fair that day, even smearing random strangers in the profusuion of colors, which also leads to numerous unwanted instances of eve-teasing and harassment by rogues and miscreants. Something that is so pure and pious must be celebrated with due dignity.
Dance and music to the accompaniment of drums, water guns and water filled balloons can be found everywhere as a part of this revelry. The entire fun is not complete without mentioning the huge platter of mouth smacking delicacies that is a part of this unique festival. Sweetmeats, drinks (a milk based cannabis laced drink, called bhang being the USP), mutton as a speciality dish everything is permissible in this festival and add to its fun quotient.
In the evening people clean up, wear their finest attires and visit each other’s’homes, partaking local delicacies and indulging in merry-making till late at night. The festival reminds every person to capture the joy in every moment and live it to the fullest.