01 March 2019

HOLI - THE FESTIVAL OF COLOURS


Holi (Doliatra, Basanta-Utsav) is the Hindu festival of colors that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. It usually falls in the later part of February or March in or Falgun month.


When is Holi?

Holika Dahan - 20 March 2019

Dhulendi - 21 March 2019

The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year.
In 2019, Holi is listed as a holiday on March 21st in: Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Goa, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand.
Holi is also known in some states as Doljatra, or Dola Purnima and is a holiday in 2019 on March 21st in: Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, West Bengal.
It is also a public holiday called Phagwah in Guyana and in 2016 it was declared a holiday in the Sindh province of Pakistan.
The day before Holi is known as Holika Dahan and can be a holiday in some states.
History of Holi
Dhulendi - Holi was first celebrated as an agricultural festival celebrating the arrival of spring but has now evolved into a time when everyone throws off the gloom of winter and rejoices in the colors and liveliness of spring. The day observes the various events in Hindu mythology and disregards the social norms by participating in the festivities.
Holi is accompanied by many legends but there are two stories that serve as the origin of Holi traditions. The story of Krishna and Radha is said to be the basis for the ritual of throwing and applying colored water and powder. According to legend, the young Krishna complained to his mother, Yashoda that Radha was so fair and he was so dark. Yashoda advised him to apply color to Radha’s face and see how her complexion would change. Thus, Holi is now become a festival of colors not only to celebrate the coming of spring but also to disregard social norms and to focus on enjoying the festivities.


Holika Dahan - Another legend behind Holi is that an evil king tried to kill his son, Prahalada, a devoted follower of the god Vishnu. The king, Hiranyakashipu, challenged Prahalada to sit on a pyre and asked (though some believed she was forced) his sister, Holika, who the king believed was immune to fire, to sit with his son in the fire. When the fire started, everyone watched as Holika burned to death, but Prahalada survived without any injuries due to his devotion to Vishnu. According to some accounts, Holika begged Prahalada for forgiveness before her death, so he promised that the burning of Holika would be remembered every year at Holi.

How is Holi celebrated?
Holi is marked by colourful parades accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of relaxed fun.
Nowadays Holi is an excuse for young Indians to shed their inhibitions and caste differences for a day of fun. Teenagers spend the day flirting and misbehaving in the streets, and everyone chases everyone else around, throwing brightly colored powder and water over each other.
The tradition of throwing brightly coloured powder and water is said to come from the love story between two Hindu gods, Radha and Krishna. Krishna is famously depicted as having bright blue skin and the legend has it that he was sad he didn't have a fair complexion like Radha. He told his mother about this and she suggested that instead of wishing for fair skin, he should instead smear Radha with paint, so they both have coloured skin; hence the tradition of trying to 'colour' others as a sign of affection at Holi.


The main colours of the powders have symbolic meanings. Blue represents Krishna, Red represents love and fertility, green symbolises spring and new growth and yellow is the colour of turmeric, a spice native to India and a natural remedy.
The festival begins on the night of the full moon. Fires are lit on street corners to cleanse the air of evil spirits and bad vibes, and to symbolize the destruction of the wicked Holika, after whom the festival was named.
The following morning, the streets fill with people running, shouting, giggling and splashing.
Doliatra
In 2019, Assam, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Sikkim, Telangana, West Bengal celebrate Doljatra. Also known as Dola Purnima, Dolyatra or Dol-Jatra, it is essentially the same festival as Holi, but has added emphasis as it is the last festival of the Bengali year.

What Do People Do?

Holi is celebrated over two days in many areas, while other areas may celebrate it for longer periods. The festival loosens the normal social restrictions by bringing people together not based on sex, status, and/or age. A public bonfire is usually held between 10pm and midnight to commemorate the burning of Holika on the first evening of Holi. Many sing and dance in the street while other are shouting, cursing and causing general mayhem during the bonfire event.
Millions of Hindus around the world celebrate Holi with a community festival. Many visit each other’s homes to distribute sweets and greet each other. Men, women, adult and children all take part in dances and other cultural programs during Holi. People dress in pure white and gather together in a common place to color each other with gulal, which are colored powders and other form of dyes. A popular activity is the throwing of water balloons at one another, sometimes called lola.

Public Life During Holi

Holi is a restricted holiday in India, so government offices and most businesses remain open. Individuals have the flexibility to take time off to celebrate the holiday if they choose. It is not a nationwide public holiday in countries such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States but some cities may hold large celebrations for the occasion.


Symbols

The bonfire represents the burning of Holika, the triumph of good over evil. All of the dead leaves, twigs and dirt that is collected during the winter month, is thrown into the fire to symbolize the evil spirits. The ashes from the bonfire are believed to provide protection against diseases. Different colored powder or gulal, oils and water represent the arrival of spring and its vibrant colors.

Note: It is not possible to mention every activity that takes place on this occasion as celebrations vary in different regions. However, this article provides a general overview of the main celebrations that usually occur during this event. Moreover, the date in which it is celebrated may vary depending on locations and calendar interpretations.

Goodness in Holi
For Holi, all castes, social divisions and religious barriers are forgotten, as people celebrate the religious festival together regardless of cultural and religious differences.

Summary
A harvest and fertility festival, Holi also commemorates a legend from Hindu Mythology.

·         Holi marks the passing of winter and beginning of spring and is celebrated each year after the full moon in March, the first day of the new season on the astronomical calendar.

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