What is Holi Festival and When is Celebrated?
Holi festival, or in its full name Holika, is one of the main festivals in India and Nepal, and certainly the most colorful one. Holi is celebrated by both the Hindu and Sikh communities at the end of March during the spring season which symbolizes the end of the winter. Hindus celebrate the fertility of the soil and the separation from the coldness of winter. Holi also has a religious significance and is designed to commemorate events from Indian mythology.
Date of celebration 2013: Wednesday, March 27th
The Legend of Holi Festival
Many legends are surrounding the origins of the Holi festival. The most famous is about the king of the demons who wanted to have the status of a god. To achieve this he required from his subjects that they stop worshiping Vishnu (one of the main gods of the Hindu trinity) and worship him instead. The king’s son a devotee of Vishnu refused and in response, the king wanted his execution. The king asked his daughter Holika to march hand in hand with her brother into the flames. Holika agreed thinking that she was immune to fire but she did not realize that her immunity was only valid when walking along into the flames. She was burnt but Vishnu saved the king’s son from the flames and killed the father. The king’s son inherited the throne and in memory of the sacrifice of Holika, bonfires are lit to symbolize the burning of desires and evil. Also, Holi is considered to be a festival of love as it is identified with the love story of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha.
It’s Time For a Big Party
Holi is a big, bombastic festival and you know it is Holi when it arrives. To be part of this celebration is a really fun and memorable experience so if you are in India during this time try and arrive at a place that is known for its crazy celebrations. The atmosphere is electric, energy levels rise and the celebrators go loud and wild. Who knows what causes this but maybe it is because of the happiness that it is the end of winter, or maybe it’s the full moon or even because of the use of narcotics and alcohol (this is the only day of the year in which the sale of hashish in Nepal is legal). On a more spiritual level, Hindus explain the joy and happiness down to it being Krishna’s favourite holiday. Whatever the reason it’s not hard to get involved in all the fun and colour. During the festivities, many places are filled with tourists who don’t want to miss out on the big party. A brightly coloured powder called Galal is thrown at everyone and anyone, coloured water is sprayed randomly and water balloons are bursting everywhere. Other customs are lighting bonfires, prayers, drinking bang lassi (marijuana missed with milk) and traditional songs and dance.