Holi, the Festival of Colors, its Understanding & Importance (Updated)



Holi - the festival of colors - is undoubtedly the most fun-filled and boisterous of Hindu festival. It's an occasion that brings in unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and, of course, lots of bright colors!


Holi at Braj (Vrindavan)
Holi is a spring festival celebrated by all religions primarily Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, and Jains. Although observed worldwide, it has special celebrations in India, with its neighbouring countries, Nepal, Sri Lanka & Pakistan. Holi is celebrated everywhere but the most celebrated Holi is that of the Braj region, in locations connected to the god KrishnaMathuraVrindavanNandagaon, and Barsana. These places have become tourist destinations during the festive season of Holi, which lasts here to up to sixteen days.



Holi played by Everyone !

The colorful festival of Holi is celebrated on the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalguna Purnima),  which comes in February end or early March. In 2009, Holika Dahan and Holi (Dhulandi) was celebrated on March 10 & 11 respectively. In 2010, Holi is on March 1 and Holika Dahan was on February 28.

Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of 'good' over 'bad'. This colorful festival bridges the social gap and renews sweet relationships. On this day, people hug and wish each other 'Happy Holi'.
Numerous legends & stories associated with Holi celebration makes the festival more exuberant and vivid.

Holika holding Prahlaad
A Holika Bonfire

Holi Week lasts long and is celebrated in various stages, or can be said as in many days, likely  Holika Dahan at the first day, Holi (Main Day) next day to Holika Dahan & Ranga Panchami at the end of Holi Week, described as follows:

Holika Dahan: 
Holi celebrations begins with lighting up of bonfire on the Holi eve, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire.
Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in Andhra Pradesh.

Holi: 
Holi, the main day also known as DhulhetiDhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing Gulal (coloured powder) and coloured water at each other. People rub 'Gulal' and 'abeer' on each other’s faces and cheer up saying, "bura na maano Holi hai".  Holi also gives a wonderful chance to send blessings and love to dear ones wrapped in a special Holi gift.

 
Ranga Panchami:
Ranga Panchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colors and thereby completing the Holi Celebration Week.


Holi : The Festive License!

Women, especially, enjoy the freedom of relaxed rules and sometimes join in the merriment rather aggressively. There is also much vulgar behavior connected with phallic themes. It is a time when pollution is not important, a time for license and obscenity in place of the usual societal and caste restrictions. In a way, Holi is a means for the people to ventilate their 'latent heat' and experience strange physical relaxations.

"Don't Mind, It's Holi!"
During Holi, practices, which at other times could be offensive, are allowed. Squirting colored water on passers-by, dunking friends in mud pool amidst teasing and laughter, getting intoxicated on bhaang and reveling with companions is perfectly acceptable. In fact, on the days of Holi, you can get away with almost anything by saying,
"बुरा न मानो होली है" (Don't mind, it's Holi !)


External References:
Wikipedia : Holi, Holika, etc or 
Try Googling with keywords, Holi, Holika, etc. for more information.


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