- Traditions and Customs
commonly called Holi is a spring festival celebrated at the
the spring season, during the 3 or 4 days preceding the full
moon day in the month of Phagan. Holi is celebrated by throwing
colors and colored powder in the air. Colorful Rangoli pattems
are painted at doorways to houses. Families assemble around a
fire throwing prasad and coconut in the fire. They also take
home prasad. The Holi festival marks the end of winter and the
beginning of spring.
Holi means the triumph of good over evil and conquest of sensual
values by spiritual values. Thus, Holi has different
mythological connotations in different parts of India. lt is
interesting to learn about its spiritual significance. 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 Pralhad. Pralhad was an
ardent devotee of Vishnu. This infuriated his father who wanted
to punish him. The king asked Pralhad to embrace a red hot pole.
But, he was unhurt. Then, he asked Pralhad to jump off a steep
cliff, but was unhurt again. Pralhad obeyed his father each time
chanting Vishnu's name. Hiranya Kasyapu ordered that Pralhad be
trampled by an elephant. But, he was unhurt.
Pralhad was not hurt by all the punishment, Hiranya Kasyapu
called his sister Holika from the gods that she would not burn
in a fire. Holika made Pralhad sit on her lap in the fire. But,
this time, Holika was burnt to death and Prahlad was unhurt.
Eventually, the ordeals faced by Pralhad 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. Pralhad never lost
faith in the Lord despite all his ordeals.
tender green leaves on the trees, the blossomed flowers in the
gardens and the sweet calls of the Cuckoo mark the advent of a
new season that is Spring(vasant). Enriching the freshness is
the festival of Holi with a splurge of colors and an aura of
romance all around.
announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter. It is
a festival that breathes an atmosphere of social merriment.
People bury their hatchets with a warm embrace and throw their
worries to the wind. Every nook and corner presents a typically
and old alike are drenched with colors (red, green, yellow,
blue, black and silver). On Holi, people are suddenly caught
unawares with colors being poured from atop the houses, bursting
balloons, or long pistons squirting colored water. People in
small groups are seen singing, dancing and throwing colors on
has long traditional links with several legends. According to
one popular legend, the word Holi is derived from the demoness,
Holika. She was the sister of Hiranyakashyap, a demon king, who
having defeated the Gods, proclaimed his own supremacy over
everyone else in the Universe. Enraged over his son, Pralhad's
ardent devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashyap decides to punish
him. He takes the help of his sister, Holika, who is immune to
any damage from fire. Holika carries Prahlad into the fire but a
divine intervention destroys her and saves Prahlad from getting
burned. Thus Holi is celebrated to mark the burning of the evil
Holika. It is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.
is celebrated throughout India but it is more predominant in
North India. Preparations for the festival begin a week ahead.
Houses are given a fresh coat of color, beautiful floral designs
are drawn at the entrance, and powdered colors and spraying
pistons are bought.
earlier days the colors were extracted from a flower that
blossoms only during this festival. And the pistons were made of
bamboo sticks. But over the years colors are made artificially
and pistons made of different materials are available in various
people burn the Holika tree on the eve of Holi. Folklore and
dances are performed around the fire to welcome the new season.
On the morning of Holi, people have fun with colored water. Men,
women and children all participate in this merry making. In the
evening, youngsters play with dry colors and seek elders'
dishes for the occasion is a typical fare. People visit each
other's houses and savor the delicious eats, be it Dahi wada or
a preparation of raw Jackfruit or the traditional Mal pua (a
dessert made of maida, milk, sugar and dry fruits). Holi is as
important a festival as Dassera and Deepawali. It is also
distinguished in certain regions like Bengal where it is marked
by performances of Dolothsava in which the image of Lord Vishnu
is swayed in decorated swings and colored powder is offered to
is celebrated with special importance in Mathura. It solemnises
the love of Radha and Krishna. The spraying of colored waters
recalls the love sport of the Gopikaas and Lord Krishna.
South India, Holi is not celebrated with as much fervour as in
North India. But the spirit of communal harmony is very high.
People indulge in merry-making, and playing with colored waters
is a common sight. The peasants/laborers go around from house to
house singing folklores and asking for small tips.
color, noise and entertainment that accompanies the celebration
of Holi bears witness to a feeling of oneness and sense of
brother-hood. No other festival brings home the lesson of
spiritual and social harmony as well as the festival of Holi!!
is one of Hinduism's most colorful festivals. It is the spring
festival of India. It occurs on the full moon day of the month
Phagan (the 10th month of the Indian calendar). This is usually
in April, although it can be during late March according to the
Christian calendar. On this day, everyone gets dressed up and
joyfully sprinkles gulal, a colored powder, at everyone else.
This rejoicing is aimed at a legendary story of Holika, a
was the demon sister of Hiranyakashipu, the demon king. He had a
son named Pralhad. Pralhad was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu.
Despite his efforts, Hiranyakashipu could not stop his son's
worship of the Lord. He tried several times to kill his son, but
God saved Pralhad every time. Hiranyakashipu decided to burn
Pralhad. He asked his sister Holika to sit with Pralhad in the
fire. Holika had received a boon from God that would make her
unscathed by fire. Fearing her brother's wrath, she did as she
was told, but when she stepped into the fire, that boon from God
ended and she was burnt to death in the fire while Pralhad
remained safe. Holika was killed for trying to harm a devotee of
story goes on until Lord Vishnu appears in the form of a half
man-half lion form. He slays Hiranyakashapu, and saves Prahlaad.
many places burn a huge cardboard statue of Holika during Holi
and sing and dance to rejoice. There are no major foods
associated with Holi. People usually make some snack food. One
snack that might be made is Chackli, a kind of pretzel.