Since my childhood, I was fond of colors. Coloring my drawing books, sometimes walls too, were some of my favourite activities. Though coloring walls always had some consequences but somehow I always managed to sneak out. Therefore I eagerly wait for HOLI. For kids like me it was the licence of coloring the whole world. What? You are not aware of Holi? Let me give you an introduction.
“Holi” the festival of color is one of the most popular and celebrated festival of India. Basically it’s a Hindu festival but it brings so much energy, fun and happiness that no one could resist it. Throwing colour and water on other people, irrespective of the fact that whether the person is known to you or not, is the core objective of this festival. But the interesting fact is that no one feels offended on this day. It goes like BURA NA MANO, HOLI HAI (don’t mind, it’s Holi.)
So how it started? Generally festivals are drawn through a legend, a tale or tradition. But Holi is the festival which is associated with all these put together. People in different parts of India celebrate it for various reasons. The most popular is a legend which says that there was a prince named Praladha who was the son of a demon King. Praladha was a great follower of lord Vishnu (the protector) and hence his father wanted to kill him. So he asked his sister Holika who was blessed to be resistant to fire, to take Praladha with her and sit on fire. However Lord Vishnu saved the prince and Holika was burnt to death. The next day people applied the remaining ash to their foreheads as the blessings of Lord Vishnu. Following the ritual, the festival is marked with bonfire on the eve of Holi and powder colours on the next day. The name Holi is also derived from there “Holika”.
There is another tale which says that once Lord Krishna (incarnation of Lord Vishnu), as a kid, got frustrated because of his dark complexion and the fair complexion of Radha (the girl he adore). So he complained to his Mother Yashoda about this. She laughed first and just to console her kid she suggested him that he can smear color on Radha’s face and change her complexion to any color he wanted. Krishna took the advice seriously and smeared all of Radha’s face with colours. Since then at some places Holi is celebrated to mark the divine love of Radha and Krishna.
At some part it is celebrated as a tradition as it marks the beginning of harvesting season. On the Holi eve farmers create a huge bonfire and offer sweats made of their first crop to the God Agni (fire). The color carnival follows the next day.
Being a major festival, Holi is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The whole nation gets submerged in the color of Holi. Everyone from children’s to elderly people, gear up themselves for this festival. The celebration starting early in the morning, people come out on the streets or nearby open areas and together they start playing Holi. People with bucket of water or powder color in their hand chasing other people, is very a common sight. Coloring other person into their color is the motive of every individual. As the day passes, dancing and singing sessions get started. By the afternoon, people drenched in colors and water start enjoying the sunbath. This is when ladies bring the homemade delicacies and serve them to everyone. And when the celebration ends, it leaves a fine fragrance of peace, love and harmony, behind.
So basically, Holi is an occasion which is not to be missed. If you are planning to visit India, try to plan your tour around it. It will enhance your Indian experience for sure. The festival this year will be celebrated on 24th March and keeps changing every year as per the Hindu lunar calendar.
For the first timers, the festival can be a bit rough or harsh. Hence if you are visiting India (particularly north India) I have some guidelines which you can follow:
1) Find a family or group of Known people to play holi with. If you are staying in hotel then play holi within hotel premises, with other in-house guests. Nowdays, hoteliers arrange Holi celebration for their guest.
2) Get a quoting of Oil on your skin so that color can be easily washed off. Also it will help your skin form any problems
3) Use old clothes which you can throw away after the festival.
4) Avoid any travel (one destination to other) during Holi.
5) Don’t go out on the streets on your own. Foreigners are easy targets especially when they are alone.
I am not saying that if you have not seen Holi festival you have not seen anything, but certainly you have missed something, in India. Witness an extravaganza of colors, a festival that show cases the true colors of vibrant Indian culture.