Holi Festival - the Festival of Colors - Festivals of India
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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© 2012 Rajan Singh Jolly