Holi is one of the major festivals in the Hindu religion. This festival was originally known as “Holika” and finds mention in the religious works. This festival is celebrated on the day after full moon in the Hindu month of Phalgun (the onset of sprig in early March).The festival celebrates spring and commemorates several events in Hindu mythology. During this festival Hindus attend a bonfire and spray friends with gulal. Also known as the “Festival of Colors” this festival is based on the story of Radha and Krishna. Holi celebrates the onset of spring which is associated with bright colors and a vibrant life.
Celebrating Holika’s defeat
This festival is celebrated at a time when both man and nature throw off the gloom of winters and rejoice in the liveliness of spring. Legend has it that the evil king Hiranyakashipu forbade his son Prahlad from praying to Lord Vishnu. He wanted to avenge the death of his younger brother who was killed by Vishnu. Despite his father’s orders, Prahlad continued to pray to Lord Vishnu. So the king wanted to kill his son. The king asked for a favour from his sister Holika who was immune to fire. A pyre was lit and Holika sat on the fire clutching Prahlad. Surprisingly, Holika burnt to death and Prahlad emerged unscathed by the fire. The complete devotion to Lord Vishnu had saved Prahlad’s life. Holi celebrates Holika’s defeat. On the day before Holi bonfires are lit to burn the spirit of the evils.
Celebrating divine love between Radha and Krishna
Now the question arises, why is Holi associated with colors. According to the popular Hindu belief Krishna was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He played pranks with the village girls and sprayed them with color and water. It did not take too long for other boys to join him and this became a sport. The sport of spraying colors played by Lord Krishna is depicted in several paintings, murals, sculptures and scriptures across the Indian subcontinent.The festival of Holi also celebrates the enduring love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Legend has it that Krishna complained to Radha’s mother Yashodha about Radha being fairer than him. Yashodha advised Krishna to apply colors on Radha’s face to see how her complexion would change. Holi extends over a longer time in Vrindavan and Mathura, two cities which are closely associated with Lord Krishna.
Holi brings people together and bridges the social gaps. It gives rise to a general atmosphere of merrymaking and cheer.