Holi: Color festival in India

Holi Festival, Barsana, Village of Radha

A scene of devotees inside Krishan temple in Nandgaon
A scene of devotees inside Krishan temple in Nandgaon | Source

Holi: Festival of colors


Holi, the festival of colors is among the most important festivals of India. it is a Hindu Festival . Holi is also a spring festival (Basant Utsav). People play with various colors on the eve of Holi. It is recreation, it is fun. Holi is the most celebrated festival but Diwali in India.

All, men and women, youth and old enjoy Holi in India.

It is celebrated to remember Holika Dahan. Hindu people perform Holi Puja (pooja) to celebrate this auspicious day. Holi is celebrated on the full moon day of Falguna (Fagun) according to Indian lunar calendar. It will fall on the date February 28 this year 2010. 15 days long Chinese New yearcelebrations will come to an end on that day this year.

Holi is two days festival where the second day is called Dhulendi. There are different customs for celebrating Holi in different cultures in India. The Holi celebrations also vary regionally. Holi is referred as "Dol-Jatra" or simply "Dol" in Bengal. In most of the other places in northern India it is called Holi.

Holi of Shaharwali society of Murshidabad, Bengal, was renowned.

Holi is celebrated as "Hola Mohalla" in Punjab, especially at Anandpur Sahib. Guru Govind Singh wanted to build Sikh community a warrior class. He created "Nihang" community of brave warriors and coined a warrior game "Hola Mohalla". It was like a "War exercise" where two groups fight with various arms.

Colors of Holi are more bright in Rajasthan.

Market in Holi festival

Color pigments for sale Ajmer, Rajasthan,  India March 2007
Color pigments for sale Ajmer, Rajasthan, India March 2007 | Source

Economy of Holi festival


Indian festivals are well embedded with the economy and seasons. Holi is not an exception and it is also embedded with the economy of India since ancient times. Indian economy was mainly based on agriculture. Majority of Indians are farmers till date. Timing of Holi is related with Ravi crop. Farmers reap and bring home Wheat, Mustard, Gram, Peas etc during these days. They celebrate and enjoy income after long days of toil.

Holi is festival of colors. people buy different types of organic colors (However, lots of chemical colors are used nowadays) such as Tesu and Gulal to rub on each others' faces. People also make solutions of color to throw it on each other.

Sell of oil, cream, detergent and soaps also surge in these days because people have to use more of these items to erase colors after playing Holi. Soaps and detergents are also required to wash and clean the houses. People also buy sweets or prepare sweets in their own houses during these days. Sell of sugar and Ghee also boost in these days like in other festivals.

Holi festival comes in spring season. Hence, it is also called spring festival in India.

Radha- Krishna

Playing Holi

Mythology behind Holi festival



There is a mythological story behind the Hindu festival Holi. Hiranya (Gold ) Kashyap was mighty king of demons (Daitya Raj or Danav Raj). He was a strong enemy of gods. He was blessed with several magical powers which enabled him of conquering the world. He was mighty and wealthy. His treasures were full of Diamond, Jewelry, and Gemstones. He was filled with ego and started torturing.

Incidentally Prahlad, his son was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God. Prahlad used to worship Lord Vishnu. Hiranya Kashyap could not withstand this very activity of his son. He denied his son several times to worship his enemy Lord Vishnu. However, Prahlad did not stop worshiping him. He was a true devotee of Lord Vishnu and had all faith on him.

Annoyed with continual disobeying of his order, Hiranya Kashyap planned to kill him. He planned to apply a trick. Holika, sister of Hiranya Kashyap was also blessed with a magical power. Fire could not burn her. Hiranya Kashyap involved her sister Holika into the conspiracy and told her to enter into fire taking Prahlad in her lap. Holika followed order of his brother, the Demon king.

Prahlad was a true devotee and fire did not harm him. Lord Vishnu saved him. However, Holika lost her magical power and burnt in that fire. This was a victory of faith, devotion and holiness over an evil. Hindu communities celebrate Holi to remember burning (Dahan) of Holika in an attempt to kill Prahlad, a true devotee of Lord Vishnu. hence, Holika Dahan is a major part of Holi celebration.

Hindu people bring branches of bushes and wood logs and ignite fire. They also throw symbolic Holika into this fire to burn. They sing Holi songs (Fag) besides this fire. Normally women sing songs around the fire and men watch this standing.

Jain community does not celebrate this as Jainism thinks it violent and principle of Jainism is based on Non-violence. Large numbers of people also think it against Environment.

Holi in Vrindavan

Holi in Rajasthan


Rajasthan, place of Rajput Royalty plays Holi in its own fashion. Jaipur royal family used to play Holi with common men and women. The king of Jaipur himself used to play Holi seating on an elephant. They used safron, red ad pink colors to play Holi. Jaipur people used herbal colors in the old times. Gota Gulal of jaipur was so famous that it is used even in the Holi festival of Brindavan (Braj).

Phulon ki Holi or Holi of flowers is also famous in Jaipur till date. people sing Phag, Holi ka Rasiya and many other folk songs during these days. Ladies of Jaipur used to wear Phaganiya sarees on Holi. Red and white colors are used in Phaganiya saree. Though this tradition is almost extincted, the Royal family of Jaipur is still maintaining the tradition. They used to dance "Gorband" wearing these sarees.

Holi of Jodhpur and Udaipur have its own tradition which are different from Jaipur. People of Momasar village have their unique way of celebrating Holi. The entire village becomes actors and every body joins Holi festival in disguise.

Holi Festival - Krishna Radha and Gopis

 Radha, Krishna and sakhis playing Holi. Lucknow, Avadh (Oudh), 19th century. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, H: 28.9 W: 19.2 cm, 19th century. Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Gallery
Radha, Krishna and sakhis playing Holi. Lucknow, Avadh (Oudh), 19th century. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, H: 28.9 W: 19.2 cm, 19th century. Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Gallery

Holi and Radha Krishna: Holi of Braj

Story of Radha and Krishna is also well embedded with the festival of Holi. Radha was lady love of Lord Krishna. They had spend time of their youth in the Kadamb-Kunj of Braj and Gokul. There were thousands of Gopi in the Braj who also loved Krishna and wanted to marry him. Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, staged rash Leela with Radha and all the Gopi. They also engaged themselves in basant Utsav and Color festival.

The festival of Holi, hence, embedded with Radha and Krishna. Barsana is the village of Radha and Nandgaon is of Krishna. People of Nandgaon used to go Barsana on the eve of Holi where the women of Barsana village play a typical type of Holi with them. They beat nandgaon males with stics and they save themselves with a shield in their hand.

The Holi festival of Braj is extremely renowned and people from all over India come and enjoy the festival. Foreigners from various countries such as America, European Union countries, Canada and Australia have also started coming to view the Holi festival of Braj. They visit Vrindavan, Barsana, Nandgaon and other villages in 84 Kosh Parikrama of Braj.

Holi Festival of Colors Utah, United States

The projected over 80,000 attendants at the 2013 Festival of Colors! In the back is Sri Radha Krishna Temple at Spanish Fork, Utah, United States
The projected over 80,000 attendants at the 2013 Festival of Colors! In the back is Sri Radha Krishna Temple at Spanish Fork, Utah, United States | Source

Holi festival out side India


Large numbers of Indians are living in America, Australia, Canada, UK and many other countries in Europe, Africa and other Asian countries. Indian communities in these countries celebrate Holi with enthusiasm.

Number of Non resident Indians (NRI) is high in several countries like America, Canada and the UK. Australia is full with Indian students. Approximately 100,000 Indian students are studying in Australia despite recent attacks on them. Most of them enjoy this Indian festival in these countries.

People greet each other by sending Holi greeting cards and meet their friends and relatives. At many places, they meet in a community hall. play with colors and eat sweets.

Holi festival: BBC

Holi: A Shudra festival


Hindu community is divided between four sects Brahman (Academic class), Kshatriya (Warrior class), Vaishya (Business class) and Shudra (service class) according to Manu Smriti. These four classes are called four "Varna". In general Hindu varna system is based on the basis of birth. However, the Jain community believes that these four Varna are based on work and activities.

Above mentioned four Varna have their own major festivals. Raksha Bandhan is meant for the Brahman community, Dashara or Vijaya Dashmi (that comes immediately after Ashwin Navratri) for Kshatriya community, Diwali is for Vaishya community and Holi is for Shudra community.

However, all four Varna celebrate and enjoy all four festivals in India.

Holi in Pondicherry

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Comments 11 comments

D Roy 4 years ago

Tomorrow, on 8th March 2012, we shall celebrate the festival of 'Dol Purnima' in Bengal. On the eve of this 'Vasant Utsav', I extend my best wishes to everyone.


NILESH OZA 4 years ago

Holi, the festival of colors is among the most important festivals of India. it is a Hindu Festival . Holi is also a spring festival (Basant Utsav). People play with various colors on the eve of Holi. It is recreation, it is fun. Holi is the most celebrated festival

All, men and women, youth and old enjoy Holi in India.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 4 years ago from Jaipur Author

Thanks Craftsvilla. I don't know much about Tomato festival. Please inform details of the Spain festival.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 4 years ago from Jaipur Author

Lisa,

Indians in New York and Los Angels plazay Holi. You can play with them.


lisa42 profile image

lisa42 4 years ago from Sacramento

When I was visiting India during Holi, a lot of people told me Westerners had to be careful because the fun could get out of hand, but I played Holi all over Allahabad and had a great time! I wish we had this holiday in the United States. My kids would love it! :-)


Fluffy77 profile image

Fluffy77 5 years ago from Enterprise, OR

Loved learning about Holi festival, full of fun loving good time. It's very pretty too with all the colors and dancing in the nice clothes and jewelry you are truly blessed to have this. It was a pleasure to watch, voted this one up.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi Debby Bruck,

Thanks for reading and commenting about Holi.

Yes, not all the people use organic colors but there are inorganic colors which are safe. People normally do not throw colors to eyes but they rub in the faces and other body parts. Some times, accidentally, color goes into eyes creating problem.

Jyoti Kothari


Debby Bruck profile image

Debby Bruck 6 years ago

Thank you for teaching me about this holiday Jyoti. My question is all that dusty colors thrown in people's eyes. Doesn't it make them squint, cry, or painful to have it thrown in their face? It seems quite messy. As you say, the colors are not all made with natural products. I would probably hide in my home on this day. LOL In a way, it's like snowball fights in wintery weather.


JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

JYOTI KOTHARI 6 years ago from Jaipur Author

Hi Hp and Marina,

Thanks for visiting the hub and to give a love to Holi, festival of colors in India.

Jyoti Kothari


marina 6 years ago

Holi is a festival of colors and togetherness. So send Holi greeting cards to all your loved ones in a clolourful way. Celebrate Holi in a special way by distributing love and warm wishes with free colorful ecard . Happy Holi!!! http://www.closeupfreshbreath.in


H P Roychoudhury profile image

H P Roychoudhury 6 years ago from Guwahati, India

I liked it. Holi Festival brings joy to our mind.

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