Holi – The festival of colours

होली की हार्दिक शुभकामनाएँ

The Holi festival, also known as the festival of colors, is an ancient Indian festival that is celebrated until our days with great pomp by Hindus and non-Hindus throughout India, Nepal and other countries where there are large Indian communities.

The festival takes place on the full moon of the Indian lunar month Phalguna (usually in early March in the Gregorian Calendar) and marks the end of winter and the welcome of spring. In several states of northern and central India, the day of Holi is celebrated as the New Year’s Eve. The following day marks the beginning of the New Year, which is the first day of the month Chaitra.

The word “Holi” is derived from the name of evil sister of the demonic king Hiranyakashipu, Holika, who in an effort to burn the good and God-fearing son of the King, Prahlada, burned herself. In commemoration of this event, namely the victory of good over evil, faithful Hindus begin the celebration of the Holi festival a day earlier singing and dancing about the burning of Holika (Holika Dahan) around fires lit on squares and main streets.


Krishna Playing Holi with Gopis Along with his Mates

The next day, which is known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, children and people of all ages throw colored powders and  balloons with water and shoot water pistols (pichkaris) at anyone they encounter without exception.

After noon, the celebrants, being washed and dressed with clean new clothes, visit friends, neighbors and relatives, and after putting colored marks on the forehead hug each other and wish “Happy Holi” and enjoy special dishes (gujiya, mathri and papri) cooked exclusively for that day. By nightfall, the men gather in specific squares where they recite poems and exchange gossips and jokes with erotic content.

Lately, the Holi Festival has expanded in Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love and colors. The Indian festival, accompanied by masquerading colors, erotic teasing, and frantic dances intents to bring reconciliation and closeness between people, operating in a way similar to the ancient Dionysian festivals that have survived until our days in the form of carnivals.

Cover Photo: Muslims and Hindu celebrate together the Holi Festival in Varanasi

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