Holi or Holika, is a spring festival (March 22nd/23rd 2016) celebrated at the onset of the spring season, on the full moon day (Purnima) in the month of Phalguna. It is also the first day of the Hindu calendar (samvat) and a day of great joy and gaiety in the cities of Vrindavan and Mathura. Holi is celebrated by throwing colors and colored powder in the air. Colorful Rangoli pattems are painted at doorways to houses.

Modern Day Holi

A girl in full holi colors

Flickr photo by wanderinghome
The modern festival of Holi is celebrated on the day of the Phalgun full moon by tremendous gaiety and revelry by people of all walks of life. It is a day of particular freedom for kids who look forward to this day with great anticipation.

Water balloons filled with color water are hurled at passer-bys, pichkaris and water guns filled with water are squirted in all directions and impromptu street gangs roam the neighborhoods looking to include everyone in the revelry. On a more sedate note, some adults prefer to observe a dry holi by greeting fellow adults with emgulaal/em (a colored powder of various hues) – the colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors.

Legend of Holika – Holika Dahan

The story relates to an ancient demoniac king in India known as Hiranya-Kasyapu. He was a cruel and tyrannical ruler. All his subjects followed his orders except for his son Prahlad. Prahlad was an ardent devotee of Vishnu. This infuriated his father who wanted to punish him. The king asked Prahlad to embrace a red hot pole. But, he was unhurt. Then, he asked Prahlad to jump off a steep cliff, but was unhurt again. Prahlad obeyed his father each time chanting Vishnu’s name. Hiranya Kasyapu ordered that Prahlad be trampled by an elephant. But, he was unhurt.
A Traditional Holi Fire
Flickr photo by bikashdas
As Prahlad was not hurt by all the punishment, Hiranya Kasyapu called his sister Holika who had a boon from the gods that she would not burn in a fire. Holika made Prahlad sit on her lap in the fire. But, this time, Holika was burnt to death (for abusing her boon to do evil) and Prahlad was unhurt. Eventually, the ordeals faced by Prahlad climaxed in the emanation of Narahari or Narasimha who destroyed Hiranya Kasyapu. Again, this displayed the triumph of a true Bhakta (devotee) over the evil represented by Hiranya Kasyapu. Prahlada never lost faith in the Lord despite all his ordeals.This legend is celebrated on the full-moon or poornima night of Holi by lighting huge bonfires called Holika Dahan or the sacrifice of Holika.

Spiritual Significance of Holi

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The Holi festival marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Essentially, Holi means the triumph of good over evil and conquest of sensual values by spiritual values. The Holi fire connotes this event in Hindu mythology of the conquest of lust by Shiva. For this reason, Shiva is also known by the names Kameswara, Maara Ripu or Madana Ripu indicating one who has conquered carnal desires. On Holi day, Hindus remember the life of a pure devotee, Prahlad and keep his spiritual ideas alive. In other parts, it is celebrated as the day of Kaama dahan (burning of desires).

More details on Spiritual Significance of Holi

So how do you plan to celebrate Holi? What are your favorite childhood memories of Holi? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Share this page as your Holi Greeting!

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8 Responses to Holi – The Festival of Colors

  1. Ms Cator says:

    What a wonderful celebration of colors!

  2. Maike says:

    Dear EagleSpace-Team

    I just read your blog about the Holi Festival and found it very interesting. I’m currently writing my Bachelor Thesis about cultural tourism in India and the impact of such on the Holi Festival. It is a very big project for me and to gather quantitative data I’m doing an online survey to get the perception of Indians concerning the topic.
    Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of contacts in India and it is not that easy to get many responses.
    Would it be possible for you to share the link to my survey?
    The survey will only take a maximum of 5-10min and is anonymous.
    I’ll use the data only for my bachelor thesis, which won’t be published.

    It would be a great help to me if you could share the link on any social network or via email.

    Thanks in advance!
    I’m looking forward to a feedback from you.

    Best wishes
    Maike

    The link to my survey:
    http://survey4.questat.de/inde​x.php?sid=84599&lang=en

  3. Herminia (Goa) says:

    Recived with thanks your lovely email on this divine occasion of Holi-2011!

    Glad to share my childhood memories of this festival of India as desired by you.

    I was distined to be born in Goa to a Roman Catholic family on the Holy Land of Gods created by God Parashuram (6th incarnation of Lord Vishnu) according to the mythological record.

    Living in a multi-cultural Goan Society having the ancestral roots of Hinduism made me wonder as to how the Law of Land & the Rule of Law can influence a change in the way of living of an individual in society on this Earth.

    As a student & teacher of History, I considered the festival of Holi is to rejoice in the love & devotion for the Supreme Being. Though the meanings of ‘Holi’ are numerous, one meaning of the word ‘Holi’ is ‘Sacrifice’.

    The Puranas decribes Holi as a celebration of Virtue over Vice. It is also learnt that the tradition of playing colours on Holi originated from the ‘ Leela’ of Radha & Krishna ( 9th incarnation of Lord Vishnu).

    My analysis on Law & Religion made me realise that all the rituals & prayers in the world cannot make up for a lack of piety, honesty & compassion. The routine religious practice of going to the holy places like the temples, churches, mosque, gurudwaras etc. to perform rituals is not sufficient to become spiritually pure in mind, body & soul (heart).

    I therefore feel it’s high time that all the stakeholders should think together to bring a social change through the holy festivals like Holi which symbolises the colour of life on earth with love, dedication & forgiveness by washing away all the man made distinctions in society based on caste, creed, gender & other differences by forgiving & forgetting the past hate so that there is interfaith harmony to live our lives in divinity & discipline over passion for successfully enjoying the peace with prosperity on Earth by God’s Grace!

    Wishing one & all a happy & blessed Holi-2011!

    • kajmani says:

      What a beautiful comment, with one particularly strong truth… “… all the rituals & prayers in the world cannot make up for a lack of piety, honesty & compassion…” – Thank you!

  4. Thanks to them who have created this site.

    u remind god to people, great job…..
    thanks

    • kajmani says:

      you are welcome deepak! it's good to remember God at all times….

      dukh mein simaran sab karen, sukh mein kare na koye.
      sukh mein jo simaran kare, dukh kaahe ko hoye!

  5. Faustino Pena-Cedeno says:

    thank you so much, I really appreciate your e mails.
    God bless you all…….
    with Divine love…….Faustino Pena-cedeno

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