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Holi Festival - the Festival of Colors - Festivals of India

Updated on March 13, 2020
rajan jolly profile image

Rajan is a botany and chemistry major. He has worked as a poultry breeder for 23 years, breeding layer and broiler parents.

Holi 2020 Date

Holi will be celebrated on 10 March 2020.


About Holi - The Indian Festival Of Colors

Holi is an ancient Indian Hindu festival celebrated by all with equal zeal and fervor. It is also called the Indian festival of colors. Holi is celebrated in India and other countries where population of Indians is in large numbers.

As the festival occurs in spring it is also called Basant Utsav or Spring Festival. The maximum holi fervor is seen in North India especially in Mathura and Vrindaban, the cities connected with Lord Krishna. Tourists flock these places during holi season, not only to have a glimpse of the eclectic celebrations but to participate in them as well.

Holi is celebrated the day following the full moon day, sometime end of february or early march every year.

  • It is usually a 2 day celebration.
  • The 1st day being celebrated as Holika Dahan or (symbolic Burning of Holika) also known as Choti Holi (small holi).
  • The 2nd day - the main day of holi is called Dhulandi, when people smear colored powder and spray each other with colored water. Even unknown people are not spared of this ritual on this day.Not many people mind being smeared with color on this day and one can get away by just saying 'Bura Na Mano - Holi Hai' meaning Don't mind - It's Holi.

Holi is a celebration of the advent of spring. Also, it is associated with many events in Hindu mythology.

Holi Colors
Holi Colors | Source

About Holika Dahan (Burning Of Holika)

Amongst the various legends associated with Holi, the following is the foremost legend.

Holika was the sister of the demon king Hirnakashyap. This king after great austerity and long penance managed to please Brahma, the creator of the universe. Brahma granted a boon to Hiranakashyap. The boon was that he could not be killed by a human or an animal, by Astra, meaning a hand held weapon, or Shastra, meaning a weapon that can be thrown afar, at night or in the day, neither on land nor in the sky, not in the house or outside the house.

When he was granted this boon Hiranakashyap became very egoist and ordered everyone in his kingdom to worship only him. But he was very disappointed to see his son Prahlad, worship Lord Vishnu and not him. He tried many ways to coax his son to stop worshipping Vishnu but was unsuccessful. This made him so angry that he decided to kill Prahlad.

He tried to kill Prahlad in various ways but each effort was in vain. Ultimately he made his sister Holika agree to enter a blazing pyre with Prahlad. Holika had a boon that fire would not burn her. After the fire died down, Hiranakashyap saw that Prahlad was safe and sound while his sister Holika was burnt alive.

Prahlad was saved because of his unwavering worship and devotion to God while Holika was killed because of her evil intentions.

Ultimately, demon king Harinakashyap was killed by the Lord who assumed the form of Narsimha-a half human-half animal form and killed Hirnakashyap with his bare claws at dusk on the steps of his courtyard by placing the demon king on his lap. All the conditions thus being fulfilled and the boon as given by Brahma remaining true.

The tradition of Holika Dahan and Holi comes from this legend. Holi is also a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

The Holi Bonfire Symbolizing The Burning Of Holika
The Holi Bonfire Symbolizing The Burning Of Holika | Source


Dhulandi is the 2nd day of the holi festival and almost always called holi. On this day people spray colors and colored water on one another. There is a lot of joy and fun attached to celebrating this play of colors. Even passers by are not spared of this treatment. No one minds though but in the odd case that one does encounter, one cam get away with saying 'Bura Mat Mano, Holi Hai' maaning 'Don't mind, it's Holi.

Thandai ( a cold beverage) consumption is an integral part of holi celebrations. Benares or Varanasi as it is now known is the place where this tradition of Thandai consumption is at its peak.
Thandai is a cooling drink made up of milk, sugar, saffron, different varieties of melon seeds, dry fruits, spices etc. This drink is commonly consumed in places having high temperatures in summer.
But during the Holi festival Thandai is laced with Bhang.
Bhang is made from the leaves and flower buds of the female cannabis plant and is intoxicating.

Thandai with Bhang ensures a kick which many people are looking for on this day. While some get extremely vocal and outspoken others may get vey sad and depressed and withdraw completely to themselves. Bhang drink has become an official drink. Bhang is also added to various fried snacks like pakoras, vadas etc and chewy bhang pills are also made to be consumed on this day.

A video clip showing the preparation of Thandai beverage (without Bhang of course) is included at the bottom of the hub for those who would like to try making this.

playing with colors is called dhulandi
playing with colors is called dhulandi | Source

Holi Festival Celebrations In The Different States Of India

Holi is celebrated traditionally by the way of Holika Dahan and spraying of colors and colored water.
However, in addition to this ethnic groups belonging to different states, celebrate it a bit differently as they have a different mythology associated with this festival. In many cases the nomenclature for this festival is also different though in essence it is the same.

In North India, Gujarat, Maharastra and Haryana states apart from the above traditions of Holika Dahan and playing with colors another tradition is to hang pots of buttermilk high up in the streets and in residential localities. This ceremony is called the Matki Phod (Breaking The Clay Pot) ceremony.
Local young boys team up in groups or 'tolis' as they are called. Each group tries its best to break this clay pot by making human pyramids. the women folk throw colored water on these boys from balconies, terraces of houses. The boy who breaks the pot is crowned the Holi King for the rest of the year for that locality. Prizes are awarded to the winning team.

In the Bengal state, Holi Festival is called Dol Jatra or Swing Festival. Idols of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha are placed on swings. Women sing devotional songs, throw colors on them and take turns to swing them.

In Goa, the Holi Festival is called Shigmotsav. It is much like a holi festival being celebrated for five days. Mythological enactments are done in ornated floats, accompanied by the beating of drums, lots of singing and dancing, being taken in a large procession. A variety of colors are freely used. Prizes are distributed afterwards.

In Punjab, the Holi Festival is celebrated as Hola Mohalla, on the day after holi. Nihang sikhs, a martial sect among sikhs, display their martial arts' skills in an exhibition of their prowess in various skills like horse riding, sword fighting, tent pegging, archery etc. Mock battles are held to display their fighting skills.

In Madhya Pradesh, the Holi Festival coincides with a very unique tradition, the only one to be held, in the districts of Nimar and Jhabua, in the country. This is the traditional Bhagoria Haat Festival.Haat means market and Bhagoria means to run away. This is a traditional festival in the Bhil tribes of these districts.

It is basically a marriage market where young boys and girls flock, select their partners and run away together only to come home some days later. They are then proclaimed husband and wife by the community elders. It is a very lively and colorful destival and is worth a visit.

In Uttar Pradesh, Holi Festival is called Lath Mar Festival. Lath means a Stick and Mar means to hit. In this festival, the men folk of one village are beaten by the women folk of the village they are visiting. first the men from the village Nandgaon visit the village Barsana and are greeted with sticks by the women there. This play reverses when the men of Barsana visit the village Nandgaon and the women greet them with sticks.
All this is done in the tradition of Lord Krishna who visited the village of his beloved Radha to playfully tease her and her friends, only to get chased away by her friends who took offence to this.
All these activities are pure mirth and extremely colorful. Thandai, a cold beverage made with sugar, milk and often laced with Bhang ,an intoxicant, is used freely in these celebrations.

Bhang Shop
Bhang Shop | Source

Holi In Bollywood

Songs have essentially been a part of holi celebrations and bollywood hasn't lagged far behind in potraying holi scenes and songs in many movies.

The video clip below is from a very popular film 'Silsila' in which the actor Amitabh Bachan can be seen in a song sung by him. The lyrics of this song are penned by his illustrious poet father, Harvansh Rai Bachan

If you liked this hub you might want to read my hubs on other Hindu Festivals.

Puran Poli Recipe - Indian Sweet Flatbread - Maharastrian Recipe - Holi Recipe

Homemade Thandai Recipe

Have you heard about Holi Festival?

See results

© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly


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    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      3 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Robert I am glad the information has been helpful. Thank you.

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 

      3 years ago

      Thanks again for the background on an Indian festival. I use to work for a company based in Mumbai and one of the women who worked at the main office but came to the U.S. temporarily talked about the festival. The company's web site also posted some pictures. Now I understand the meaning of the festival better.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks for appreciating this holi festival information John.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Excellent hub Rajan. It was very interesting to read about the traditions of the Holiday festival in various parts of India. Thanks for resharing.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      It is a very colorful festival with all these colors in the air. Thanks for stopping by.

    • wetnosedogs profile image


      7 years ago from Alabama

      Wow, the colors are beautiful and this must be a wonderful thing to see.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      You are right, georgeescifo. all these chemical colors are indeed harmful. Thanks for stopping by.

    • georgescifo profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Holi is one of the most exciting festivals in India. If celebrated in the right way there will be no other better festivals than this. I used to celebrate holi with my friends and colleagues when I was in Delhi, India, but nowadays I really miss out on all those things. Anyhow thanks Rajan for contributing such an inspiring hub on Holi.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      @ Ranbeer - thanks and happy holi.

      @ Radhika- A very happy holi to you and your family. Thanks for the wishes.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Happy holi to you too, Mahavir!

    • jainismus profile image

      Mahaveer Sanglikar 

      7 years ago from Pune, India

      Holi Hai................

    • radhikasree profile image

      Radhika Sreekanth 

      7 years ago from Mumbai,India

      Today is Holy! Happy Holi! So glad to share this hub on this auspicious occasion. Thanks for sharing this fantastic information.

      Up, beautiful and interesting.

    • Ranbeer Thakkar profile image

      Ranbeer Thakkar 

      7 years ago from Kanpur

      Hi rajan,

      Great Article. You can also take a look on

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thanks Rajinder. so glad to see you. I'm coming to Delhi this month. We will meet.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 

      7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Tweeted again Rajanji.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Hi Ishwaryaa,

      I'm glad you appreciate these festival hubs that I post. Nice to know you found some extra information in this one.

      Thanks for the compliments, votes and sharing. And for supporting my write ups. Have a nice day.

    • ishwaryaa22 profile image

      Ishwaryaa Dhandapani 

      7 years ago from Chennai, India

      An engaging hub from your fascinating festival series! I like Holi for its fun and frolic and I would like to celebrate it when I have the chance. The particular part that captured my interest is the celebration of Holi in different North Indian places. A wonderful hub with detailed information, suitable photos and enjoyable videos!

      Thanks for SHARING. Useful, Awesome & Interesting. Voted up & shared socially

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      7 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Thank you for appreciating the write up,Preethi. I just checked yours. Holi is indeed the victory of good over evil. Of Prahlad's devotion to God.

      Thanks for reading.

    • Preethi Anusha profile image

      Preethi Anusha 

      7 years ago from Hyderabad , India

      Great hub you've got. I have jus made a hub about the story of Holi. I'm motivated to better it after checking yours. ;-)

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Mohan, glad you liked the info and the pictures. This song is probably the most famous of all the holi songs.

      Thanks so much for taking out time to read and vote.

      Many thanks for the birthday wishes.

      Have a great day.

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Rajan , what a detailed, colorful and informative hub. Well written and beautifully illustrated with pics. I also love the Bachan song, it's one of my favs. You've got me humming now! voted up and across and a very happy Birthday!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Rajinder, I agree that the variety of festivals and the fervour with which they are celebrated in India, is probably unparalleled anywhere else.

      Thanks for reading and leaving so many appreciative comments.

    • soni2006 profile image

      Rajinder Soni 

      8 years ago from New Delhi, India

      This is an excellent article. I am really astonished to see such great information on Holi compiled in different sections within this article. The different types of festivals and their subtypes celebrated in India cannot be seen anywhere else in the world. Thank you so much JollyJi for sharing this information at Hubpages.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      alocsin, it is a very colorful and engaging festival. hope you do make it when it's held.

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • alocsin profile image

      Aurelio Locsin 

      8 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I'd seen this celebration on TV and thought it was great fun. I'll need to make it to India some day when this festival is in full swing. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      vibesites, thanks for stopping by and all the appreciative words.

    • vibesites profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Great pictures and you explained the festival very well.

      And the video of the song is awesome.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      riaha, I hope you had a wonderful time in India. Since you have lived for some years there you are aware about the holi festival. It's great to know about your love for holi and that you still play it.

      Thanks for sharing all this information and of course reading and sharing this hub.

    • rlaha profile image


      8 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

      I love Holi. I used to play with my cousins when I lived in India for a couple of years. Now we just play with our friends here. Thanks for sharing such a colorfully written article! :) I'm sharing this :).

    • scottcgruber profile image


      8 years ago from USA

      I went to Kolkata a few years ago on a research project and arrived on the second day of Holi. It was a pretty wild event, and people were very eager to include us in the celebration - especially the kids throwing paint-filled water balloons at us from third-floor windows. :)

    • Daisy Mariposa profile image

      Daisy Mariposa 

      8 years ago from Orange County (Southern California)


      Thanks for publishing this article. It brought back memories...

      I accompanied my boyfriend on a business trip to Mumbai several years ago. We were there for three weeks, and it was during Holi. He wore a white dress shirt to work that day, not knowing he would be invited to a Holi celebration. He came back to our hotel covered in colored powder.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Nights dream, thanks for the read. It feels good to know I was able to make my reader understand the historical significance behind the holi festival celebrations. Thanks for visiting and putting in your feedback.

    • Nights Dream profile image

      Michael Phoenix 

      8 years ago from Allentown, pa

      Excellent Hub!!! The way you presented everything is perfect. The photos and video really helped me understand the holiday and history. Thank you!

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Martie, the main purpose of putting down the associated history behind each historical legend is to understand its relevance better. I'm glad this has helped.

      I appreciate and value all your comments and observations and appreciate the time you spared for reading this hub.

      Thank you.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Ruchira, I agree Rang Barse song and thandai are an inseperable part of holi and are the first things that come to mind when one thinks about holi.

      It's always a pleasure to see you here and your insightful comments are most welcome and awaited, trust me.

      Thanks a lot.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Hi Debbie, holi celebrations are pure mirth, joy and fun. I hope you get to see it in person someday.

      Thanks for stopping by to read and appreciate.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Millionaire Tips, If you happen to move around the Indian community on holi day chances are that you will encounter some of the festivities connected with holi being indulged in. Great to know you are aware of this festival though.

      Thanks for being here and sharing your thoughts.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      8 years ago from South Africa

      Rajan, this is an extremely interesting hub about the celebration Of Holi / The Festival Of Colors.

      Your legends are beguiling and captivating!

      Voted up and awesome!

    • Ruchira profile image


      8 years ago from United States


      When i read your title..the first thing that came to mind was Rang barse song and when I was reading your hub...I was delighted to see that video and the receipe of thandai.

      That is the highlight of each holi :)

      holi is celebrated around my city as well. It is fun to see people with colors.

      thanks for the wonderful history behind each culture. that was news to me...thank you!

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      8 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow awesome hub. and so interesting.. I would to attend.. looks like so much fun.

      thank for sharing

      voted up


    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 

      8 years ago from USA

      I have seen many holi festivals in movies, but haven't seen any in person. Thank you for providing all this interesting background.

    • rajan jolly profile imageAUTHOR

      Rajan Singh Jolly 

      8 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA.

      Anamika, I understand that nowadays more chemical than herbal colors are in use. Watching the festivities are quite fun too. Thanks for reading and leaving your observations.

    • Anamika S profile image

      Anamika S Jain 

      8 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

      I am allergic to chemicals and I don't get out of home at all during holi because there is no guarantee those playing holi would be using herbal based colors. However, I love to watch the fun activities.


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