The Colorful Festival of Holi, India



Do you remember this.. Holi kab hai.. Kab hai Holi ?

The one of the most popular dialogue of Indian Cinema where the bandit king Gabbar asking for the day of Holi to accomplish his mission on that day.

Well don’t be tensed I will tell you the day of Holi.. I am mentioning this dialogue just because now a days everybody in India used to ask in the same manner and accent.. “Holi kab hai.. Kab hai Holi” .

The roads to India, not complete if you delve cultural attractions.

Holi is a festival of colors, celebrated in India. The festival falls on the last full moon day of Falgun according to Hindu calendar. It is celebrated sometime in the month of March, usually in the latter half of the month. According to mythology, the festival is celebrates the killing Holika, the sister of Hrinyakashyapu. The festival also holds significance with respect to end of winter season and the onset of summer season.

Holi is celebrated every year on the Purnima of Phalgun month. Just a night before Holi, a bonfire is burnt (Holika Dahan). And, on the next day morning itself, people start playing with colors.
In 2013, Holi, the festival of colors will be celebrated on 27th March.

The festival of Holi can be regarded as a celebration of the Colors of Unity & Brotherhood – an opportunity to forget all differences and indulge in unadulterated fun. It has traditionally been celebrated in high spirit without any distinction of cast, creed, color, race, status or sex.

It is one occasion when sprinkling colored powder (‘gulal’) or colored water on each other breaks all barriers of discrimination so that everyone looks the same and universal brotherhood is reaffirmed.

The festival is celebrated in different ways around the country, the Most Famous celebration of Holi Festival takes place in the province of Braj, one being in the city Mathura. That’s where tourists and people around throwing colored powder. Here, the festival lasts for 16 days, and is primarily played with flowers.

Tourists and people around throwing colored powder.

In large parts of India, the festival is celebrated with a lot of colors, water balloons and water guns. Parties are often organized across the length and breadth of the country where people dance to music and greet each other with colors. Sweets are an important part of the festival.

The colorful festival bridges the social gap

Let’s learn more about its history and significance…

Historical elements

There is no comprehensive data to know the origins of the festival. However, Holi as we see it today is believed to have originated in Bengal, where the day was celebrated as Gaudiya Vaishnava festival. In the mythology, festival of Holi started with Barsana’s Holi played by Radha and Lord Krishna.

Besides having a detailed description in the Vedas and Puranas such as Narad Purana and Bhavishya Purana, the festival of Holi finds a mention in Jaimini Mimansa. A stone incription belonging to 300 BC found at Ramgarh in the province of Vindhya has mention of Holikotsav on it. King Harsha, too has mentioned about holikotsav in his work Ratnavali that was written during the 7th century.

The famous Muslim tourist – Albaruni too has mentioned about holikotsav in his historical memories. Then the Mugals, celebrated Holi in their way. In the rule of Mugals, preparation for the festival used to start from many days in advance. Holi celebrated by the Mugals is indicated in many historical books. In which, Akbar, Humayun, Shahjahan, BahadurShah Zafar, where the chief rulers with whom Holi was played.


During the Rule of Akbar, colors where made in huge utensils with natural items. With the making of colors, delicious edibles were also prepared. An environment of joy and color was created. Tansen used to fascinate people with his voice. Something of this type could be seen at the time of Jahangir and Bahadur Shah Zafar. Such type of days used to give normal people an opportunity to go near the emperors and meet them. Other Muslim writers of that period have mentioned, that holikotsav were not only celebrated by the Hindus but also by the Muslims.

Religious element

The religious element in the Holi festival is the worship of Krishna. In some places it is also called the Dol Yatra. The word ‘dol’ Literally means “a swing”. An image of Krishna as a babe is Placed in a little swingcradle, and decorated with flowers and painted with coloured powders. The innocent frolics of little Krishna with the merry milkmaids (‘Gopis’) of Brindavan are commemorated. Religious people chant the name of Krishna and sing Holi-songs relating to the frolics of little Krishna with the Gopis.
The social element in Holi is the uniting or “embracing” of the great and the small, of the rich and the poor, and also amongst the equals. The festival teaches us to “let the dead bury the dead”. Forget the outgoing years ill-feeling and begin the New Year with love, sympathy, co-operation and equality with all. Try to feel this oneness a unity with the Self also.
Holi also means “sacrifice”. Burn all the impurities of the mind such as egoism vanity, lust, etc., through the fire of devotion and knowledge.. Ignite cosmic love, mercy, generosity, selflessness, truthfulness and purity through the fire of Yogic practice. This is the real spirit of Holi. Get up from the mire of stupidity and absurdity and dive deep into the ocean of divinity.
The call of Holi is to keep always the blaze of God-love shining in your heart. Inner spiritual illumination is real Holi. The spring season is the manifestation of the Lord, according to the Bhagavad Gita. Holi is there said to be His heart.

Mythology element

Interesting legends of Holi that are most commonly cited revolve around the soul bond of Lord Krishna and Radha, Prahlad, the child-devotee of Lord Vishnu, Kamdeva, the Indian Cupid-God and Dhundhi, the immortal ogress. All these legends focus on different aspects of Holi that can be attributed to them.

Bhakt Prahlad Holika
There was a mighty demon king named Hirnakashyipu who had won all the three worlds of heaven, earth and hell and had thus, become very proud. He assumed that he could defeat even Lord Vishnu with his valor. He went to the extent that he had enforced a law that everybody would worship him instead of gods and deities. However, his little son Prahlad refused to accept his commands and continued to worship Lord Vishnu with complete devotion. Infuriated by this defiance of his son, he ordered his soldiers to throw him down a hill. Praying fervently and having full faith in Lord Vishnu, Prahlad did not retract from his word. True to his faith, Lord Vishnu rescued him at the last moment.

Invincible Dhundhi
During the reign of Prithu, there was a terrible ogress called Dhundhi, who loved to devour innocent children. She had performed severe penances and had won several boons from the deities that made her almost invincible. However, due to a curse of Lord Shiva, she was not so immune to the pranks and abuses of young boys as she was to weapons and arrows. One day, the courageous boys of the village decided to get rid of her forever and chase her away from the village forever. They got intoxicated on bhaang and drunk and then followed Dhundi to the limits of the village, beating drums, making loud noise, shouting obscenities and hurling insults at her and continued doing this until she left the village for good. This is the reason that even today young boys are allowed to indulge themselves in rowdiness, using rude words and intoxication on Holi.

Love Play of Radha Krishna
Lord Krishna has often been portrayed as a naughty prankster in his childhood and a lover-boy in his youth. His beloved Radha and the cowherd girls ‘Gopis’ in general loved him even more for his pranks and eve teasing. The Holi of Braj is famous all over India for its intimate connection with the divine deities and their love plays. It is said that when Krishna was a young boy, he asked the reason for his dark color while Radha was so fair. His mother Yashoda playfully suggested that he should smear color on Radha’s face too and change her complexion to any color he wanted. Captivated by the idea, Krishna proceeded to do so and thus, introduced the play of colors on Holi.

Sacrifice of Kamadeva
According to Hindu mythology, the world is looked after the Trinity of Gods – Lord Brahma, the creator; Lord Vishnu, the nurturer; and Lord Shiva, the destroyer. According to a legend, Goddess Sati, the daughter of Daksha Prajapati, one of the first sons of Lord Brahma, married Lord Shiva against the wishes of her father. Thus, Daksha did not invite her and her husband to a grand yagya arranged by him. When Sati came to know about the event in her father’s house, she thought it to be a slip of mind and proceeded to participate in the event despite the warnings of her husband. But once she reached there, she realized her fault and was infuriated by the insult of her husband. As a penance for her disobedience, she entered the fire. When Lord Shiva came to know of her sudden demise, he was furious. Even after he controlled his anger, he started a severe meditation and renounced all work.

Holi: Around the world

Kiwis to celebrate festival of Holi as ‘Race Relations Day‘

The Hindu Council of New Zealand has introduced the Hindu festival of Holi to the Rotorua community celebrating it as “Race Relations Day” to commemorate the International Day for the elimination of Racial Discrimination. In New Zealand, the ‘Holi festival’ is celebrated by both Hindu and Rotorua communities since 2010.

In Rotorua the official festival will start at 2.00 pm on 27 march at Western Heights High School’s top field. Here people will get an opportunity to indulge in customary revelry with coloured powder and water.

Chapman University, Orange County U.S

Chapman University celebrates Holi, Hindu Festival of Color

Chapman University celebrated Holi, the Hindu Festival Of Color, Wednesday on Memorial Lawn. About 300 students launched colored powder into the air and at each over for an energizing afternoon celebrating the Indian celebration of spring. The festivity was organized by the University Program Board and The Diversity and Equity Initiative.


About 300 Chapman University students turned the lawn in front of Memorial Hall into a circus of vibrant colors.The event has been organized for years at the campus by student groups.


In USA, religious organizations and societies take the responsibility of organizing the festival. Musical programs and meets are conducted to fill the air with the spirit of India. New York is completely dabbled by the colorful waters. Holi is marked by parades and attended by Indians, rejoicing, playing with colors in the midst.

South Africa

South Africa has a number of Indian migrants and non-residents, Gujarati folk and people from other regions in India. Their portrayal of Holi, celebrating the triumph of good against evil, heartens the citizens and brings a smile to their faces.

With almost one million of the South African population comprising of Indians, the spirit of Holi is widespread and regarded as a means to bring together communities by having fun and to resolve conflicts with good nature.

United Kingdom

In UK, the revelry of Holi is seen profoundly at places with a large congregation of Indians. The British city of Leicester is particularly known for its love for celebrating Indian festivals.

Indians constitute the second highest minority of foreign origin in the United Kingdom. Zealous celebrations with marked reach are seen throughout the country during Holi as they celebrate their culture in large congregations.The English people too do not hesitate to partake in the fun as they enjoy this festival of colour.

Trinidad and Tobago

Just as the Caribbean was historically mistaken as India, one wouldn’t go amiss to do the same if the Holi festivities were witnessed there today. In particular, Trinidad and Tobago, the twin islands whose first instances of Indian presence was in 1845, when Bihari migrants were employed to maintain sugarcane fields. Initially, Hindus celebrated it rather quietly due to the numerous outdated limitations.


The beautiful tropical country of Mauritius holds an enthusiastic populace, 63% of which are Indians. Marking the onset of spring, Holi shows nature dressed in its best, while flowers and fields flourish exuberantly. Playing with colours, enjoying traditional sweets, the people enjoy it as a national holiday.


A Shanepedia Compilation

A Shanepedia Compilation

Along with thanks and compliments to the sources for the shared data

thecolorsofindiaaryabhattjustthetravel, ocregister

Creative Commons Copyright © Shanepedia 2012


5 responses »

  1. Dipu says:

    I Love Holi….!!!


  2. Shane says:

    You should have mentioned Bhang.. Holi, the festival of colours can never be complete without the traditional bhang.


  3. whistleblowerone says:

    Inner spiritual illumination is real Holi.


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