Your essential guide to Holi festival
THE colorful burst of Holi festival is just around the corner. Marking the beginning of spring, and celebrating the triumph of good over evil, this explosion of traditional Hindu color is set to take place in early March.
The festival of color has become so iconic that it is celebrated across the world. Even within India, you will find different takes on the festival depending on where you are, ranging from traditional temple rituals to music parties with DJs and bands to entertain.
With only a couple of days before the celebrations begin, here’s everything you need to know about Holi:
When is Holi celebrated?
Every year the festival celebrations begin on the evening of the full moon that comes in “Phalguna” (between the end of February and the middle of March), carrying on into the next day.
You’ve only got a couple of days to make your Holi plans as this year it falls on March 1, the first of two full moons in March.
The first day, known as Chhoti Holi or Holika Dahan, is the more low key of the celebrations. People gather around a bonfire, perform religious rituals and pray for the longevity and prosperity of their loved ones.
The second day is when the color comes out and people let lose covering passers-by with a technicolor coating of powder.
What’s the legend behind the celebration?
While there are several legends surrounding the origins of Holi, the triumph of good over evil is a common theme.
One of the most widely believed is that of Hindu demon king Hiranyakashipu and his evil sister Holika, the festival’s namesake.
When Hiranyakashipu’s immortality made him arrogant and cruel, he began to think himself a God.
Vowing to remain devoted and loyal to the God Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, became the focus of his wrath. Refusing to waiver in his love for Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu eventually plotted to have his son killed and tasked his sister, Holika, with the job.
Believing herself protected from fire, Holika lured Prahlada into a pyre but as the fire raged around them, the cloak that was protecting her flew off and covered the boy. Holika perished in the fire and Prahlada walked out unharmed.
Vishnu, having seen Hiranyakashipu’s behavior, came to earth and killed the king.
Why throw gulal?
The second day is when the famous colorful powders – or gulal – are thrown, mixing with water from water guns and water balloons so that the powder sticks to people.
The four main powder colors are used to represent different things. Red reflects love and fertility, blue is the color of Krishna, yellow is the color of turmeric and green symbolizes spring and new beginnings.
What to expect at your first Holi
One thing you can guarantee at any Holi celebration is you’ll get soaked and covered head to toe with powder.
Unlike most other festivals in India, there aren’t any religious rituals to be performed on the main day of Holi. It’s simply a day for having fun! People throw themselves into the spirit of the day and anyone, whether friend or stranger, is fair game for getting covered.
Make sure to wear old clothes as the color is tough to budge once you’re done for the day. Also expect a good bit of scrubbing down in the shower afterward to get the stains out of your hair and turn your skin back to its normal hue.
Source: Travels travelwireasia.com