• Anita Badhwar

The Festival of Colors, Holi

Some of my non-Indian friends have asked me about the festival of colors, Holi. So, considering that it is Holi today, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about this festival. Holi is a fun festival in which people celebrate the arrival of spring.

Origin and the Significance of the Festival

The throwing of gulal (colored powder) can be traced back to the Hindu God Krishna. It is believed that Krishna used to play Holi with his consort Radha and gopis (cowherd girls). The origin of the festival's name may be traced back to the story of Prahlad. Prahlad’s father, King Hiranyakashyap was a tyrant, who wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him as God. Prahlad instead worshipped the Hindu God, Vishnu, which angered his father. As a result, the King tried to slay Prahlad many times but failed. The King decided to ask his sister, Holika, for help. Holika had a special blessing that protected her from fire. Using this special blessing, he devised a plan in which Holika would trick Prahlad into allowing her to hold him while she walked through a fire in order to slay him. After entering the fire, Holika perished, not Prahlad. It is believed that the blessing worked on Holika alone, and that Lord Vishnu intervened to save Prahlad because of his devotion to him. On the night before Holi,

people light bonfires which symbolize the burning of Holika. Thus, Holi is a celebration

of the victory of good over evil.

Radha Krishna playing Holi

How is Holi Celebrated?

As part of the Holi festivities, people throw gulal on each other and use pichkaris (water guns) which are filled with colored water. Also, people fill up water balloons with colored water to throw at their unsuspecting victims and end up saying, "Bura Mat Mano, Holi Hai!" (don't feel bad it's Holi) People typically dress in white so that the different gulal colors will be visible. Typically, Gujiya a deep-fried doughy sweet dish filled with a mixture of khoya (dried cheese), raisins, sugar is served along with Thandai, a milky drink containing nuts and spices like cardamom.

Gujiya is bottom right

On this day there is no rich or poor class, old or young - it is simply a festival that brings the community together.

So tell me, how will you be celebrating Holi?

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