The Holi Festival of India
Holi is an ancient Indian religious event which is also known as the color festival. It is celebrated by the Hindu community all over the world. Holi is especially significant in regions which are traditionally connected to the Hindu Lord Shri Krishna, who is Shri Vishnu’s incarnation. The city of Mathura, which is the birthplace of Shri Krishna, is a popular place of pilgrimage for those that join in on the Holi celebrations.
The festival starts with lighting a bonfire. This is done by the illustrious and elder members of the community. Once the bonfire is lit, the respected members of those assembled begin to narrate stories about the earlier days of Holi. The festive spirit comes to a point where the participants smear colored water mixed with powder on each others’ faces. Once these colors have been applied on their faces, the differences of people based on color has vanished. Holi, in this sense, is an event to erase prejudice.
This is followed by inhibited wildness as people dance to the rhythms of traditional folk songs that are sung at a loud volume. In some states, they set a pot full of buttermilk at a certain height. Young men of the community form a human pyramid structure in order to break the pot with a stick. As this continues, women throw colored water at the boys and they sing traditional folk songs. After the daytime celebrations, the evening’s auspices are observed in a respectful manner as members visit families and friends. They exchange hugs and sweets as they offer each other their best wishes. Some participants keep the festival alive until late at night by singing bhajans, which are songs devoted to Shri Krishna and other gods.
The application of red color to the image of Hindu gods is also sometimes done during Holi. The red color offered is then distributed to families and friends. The color red signifies the purity and divinity of Shri Krishna.
The Hindu community also cleans their households to signal the beginning of spring. A clean house is supposed to make the community happy and please the gods. Hindus believe that in order to invite the gods into their homes, their living space has to be pure.
Each year, millions of Hindus participate in the Holi festival. It symbolizes the beginning of a new season, spring. Holi is a celebration to thank the gods for a good harvest. The bonfires that are lit signify the flame that consumed the evil demoness Holika and spared Prahlada, a boy who is said to be one of the greatest devotees of Shri Krishna. Holi is celebrated at every end of winter on the last day of the lunar cycle.
Holi lasts for two days, yet it is extremely significant. It brings together the rich and the poor, the dark-skinned and light-skinned, and the young and old in a joyous mood. Besides integrating community members, Holi spreads the message of love and peace to all who participate in its celebration.
Holi – The Festival of Colours. Indianexpress.com. Retrieved on 3/21/2011.
Religions – Hinduism: Holi. BBC. Retrieved on 3/21/2011.