Holi, also known as the "Festival of Love," the "Festival of Colors," or the "Festival of Spring," is one of the most popular festivals in India and of the Hindu faith. Dating back thousands of years, and falling on March 18 this year, Holi celebrates many things:
- The love of Radha Krishna (known as the combined forms of the feminine and masculine realities of God in the Hindu faith)
- The triumph of good over evil
- The end of winter and the beginning of a successful spring harvest season
Festivities begin the night before Holi with Holika Dahan. People contribute wood and other items to create an immense bonfire and sing, dance, and perform rituals to celebrate. According to Hindu scriptures, Holika was the sister of King Hiranyakashyap and tried to kill her nephew Prahlad, an ardent devotee of Lord Narayana. An effigy representing Holika, an asuri or demoness, is burnt to signify the victory of good over evil and the triumph of a true devotee.
Celebrations continue the next morning with Rangwali Holi (Dhuleti), where people gather in the streets and spray or throw food coloring pigments onto each other. Children especially enjoy filling up water balloons with colored water and using them to play. For those staying indoors, dry colored powder is smeared on each other’s faces. All colors are fair game, but certain colors have historically been used to signify purity (red), vitality (green), calm and sedateness (blue), and piety (yellow).
Check out this video to get peek at a Holi festival: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbFIkJ8KFZ8.
Many cities in the U.S. have Hindu temples that host Holi events open to the public. Check your local listings to see if you can join in the celebration near you, but you may want to bring a change of clothes and cover your seats for the ride home!