Holi 2021: Know significance, history, rituals and other details of the festival of colours
After months of waiting, Holi- one of the most vibrant festivals of India, is finally here. This year Holi will be celebrated on March 29 (Monday). Also known as the festival of colours, Holi is one of the most significant festivals of Hindus, although it is celebrated by people of other faiths as well.
The festival of Holi marks the triumph of good over evil and is celebrated for two days. The evening before Holi is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi during which people light a bonfire to signify the burning of the demon Holika. This year, Chhoti is being celebrated on March 28.
As per Hindu mythology, demon king Hiranyakashyap was given a reward which gave him the power to not be killed by either a man or any animal, hence, he wanted to be worshiped by people. His son Prahlad, however, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu.
Being angry at the fact that his son didn’t worship him, king Hiranyakashyap asked his sister, demon Holika to sit in a pyre while holding his son. While sitting one fire, Holika died, but Prahlad was saved by Lord Vishnu, who later took the avatar of Narasimha- a half human and half lion and killed the demon king.
Holi also marks the arrival of the spring harvest season and the end of winter in the country. Holi is celebrated in the month of Phalguna of the Hindu calendar and the festivities start on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day).
People celebrate Holi by splashing water and smearing each other with colours, which is also known as ‘Gulal’. Children enjoy the day by playing with water baloons and water guns. Parties are hosted by people where they dance on popular Holi songs.
People also relish on some lip-smacking sweets like Gujiya- a traditional sweet made on Holi and Thandai, which is a Holi-special drink made of milk. Some people also binge on some bhang, which is cannabis added to thandai, and it is intoxicating. Bhang is enjoyed by people on Holi across the country.
Although Holi is celebrated the same way across the country, some states play Holi in a different yet special manner. Holi celebrations in Vrindavan and Mathura are very famous. In Pushkar, Rajasthan, people play ‘Kapda-faad’ Holi and in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh, ‘Lathmar Holi’ is celebrated where women hit men with sticks (lath) while they try to shield themselves.