The Holi Festival Of Colors in India: Everything you need to know

India Holi Festival Schedule
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The Holi Festival of Colors in India

Holi Festival 2019 will begin on Wednesday, 20 March and ends on Thursday, 21 March 2019.

Holi festival of Colors is an ancient Indian spring festival that originated from the Indian Subcontinent. It is mostly celebrated in India although it has gradually spread to other regions of Asia and some parts of the Western World. The festival is also known as the “festival of love” or the “festival of colors” and it symbolizes the end of winter and arrival of spring, the victory of good over evil. It is an impeccable time for people to rejoice, play and laugh, and meet others. It is a period of letting old conflicts and grudges go, mend the bridges, forgive and forget, giving thanks to the gods for good harvest. The Holi Festival of Colors lasts for just a night. It commences on the evening of Full Moon – Purnima, a period in Hindu calendar month of Phalgun, which is a period between the end of February and mid-March according to Gregorian calendar.

The Holi Festival Of Colors in India by Tom Watkins via unsplash
The Holi Festival Of Colors in India by Tom Watkins via unsplash

History of Holi Festival

The word Holi is from Hoilka, the wicked sister of demon king Hiranyakashipu. The demon king had earned a blessing that made him immortal and indestructible. He became arrogant because of this power, he thought himself as God and commanded that he be worshipped by everyone. However, his own son Prahlada disagreed because he was a devotee of Vishnu. This infuriated his father, King Hiranyakashipu. The king subjected his own son to cruel punishments but did not wither his son’s determination to do what is right. One day, Holika tricked Prahlada into sitting on a pyre with her, but she was wearing a cloak that made her immune to fire, while Prahlada was not. As the fire became powerful, the cloak flew from Holika and covered Prahlada. Holika burnt to death but Prahlada survived. Vishnu then appeared and killed the demon king Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire, therefore, signifies victory of good over evil.

Holi Hindu spring festival by Debashis Biswas via Unsplash
Holi Hindu spring festival by Debashis Biswas via Unsplash

The Day of Holi

The day of Holi is usually arrived at by estimation. The celebration takes place during lunar month ‘Purnimanta’ and ‘amanta’. In Purnimanta, the first day begins right after the fool moon, while Amanta, the first day starts after the new moon. In many occasions, Amanta is widely used than Purnimanta.

In the calculation of Purnima in the month of Phalgun, the Purnima or full moon was the last day of the year and the starting of New Year, signaling the Vasanta-Ritu. According to this, the Holi Festival falls at the start of spring. According to the Hindu calendar, the full moon is the month between the start of new and the beginning of spring, meaning Holi celebrations takes place in March, and in 2019, the festival will start on 20th March and ends on 21st March.

Holi Festival of Colors in Mumbai by Himanshu Singh Gurjar via nsplash
Holi Festival of Colors in Mumbai by Himanshu Singh Gurjar via nsplash

Why you should totally go to Holi Festival

This celebration is intriguing, the colors are fascinating and the atmosphere during the celebration is something to behold. There are many reasons you too should participate in this colorful experience, stand in the midst of a rainbow-colored crowd and just let everything go.

Another reason you should go to the Holi Festival of colors is the change of weather. In many parts of the globe, springtime is usually associated with frigid temperature, and swapping that to warm weather is something that is appealing. Additionally, this is a celebration of love, Holi festival stem from a romantic Hinduism story. The story comes from Lord Krishna, one of the Hindu gods. It is believed he was depressed because his blue skin was preventing him from finding love from a goddess. The story further state that Krishna was asked to paint the face of goddess Radha, any color he wished. From there they fall in love, thus the origin of the festival of color. During the Holi Festival, everyone is your friend. Anyone can throw color at anyone. Think of food fight but with color. Water guns and water balloons are filled with color ready to color bomb one another.

The final reason why you should go to the Holi Festival of color is that you will be celebrating unity with nature. The underlying message of the festival is that people should harmoniously live with the earth and not destroy the natural beauty that exists. We all should be enthused by anything that embraces the call to preserve the earth and its natural resources.

Rituals of Holi Festival by Debashis Biswas via Unsplash
Rituals of Holi Festival by Debashis Biswas via Unsplash

The Rituals of the Holi Festival

Planning

Couples of days before celebration starts, people gather firewood for the lighting of the bonfire. The collection of firewood starts early because the bonfire requires a huge pile of wood. The collected wood is placed at the city’s major crossroads. The bonfire is called Holika in Hindu.

Holika Dahan Celebrations

This celebration takes place on the eve of Holi. The meaning of this celebration is to signify the triumph of good over evil and the victory of a true aficionado. The celebration involves placing the statue of Holika in the wood and burn it. Holika was the evil-minded sister of demon king Hiranyakashyap. She tried to kill the demon king’s son Prahlad – a staunch believer of Lord Naarayana.

During Holika Dahan, children are allowed to behave crudely, by praying pranks and hurling abuses at Holika. It is believed that it was children who chased Holika away by pranking her.

India Holi Festival Schedule
India Holi Festival Schedule

Where Holi is celebrated

The celebration is observed throughout India, but it is more vibrant and jubilant in North India than South, particularly in Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit, which includes Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur. The celebration varies with region and different customs. It embraces the different strokes for different folks approach. Outside India, Holi is also celebrated across Nepal, Sri Lanka and localized regions of countries where Hindu people reside like Australia, USA, and the UK among others.

Holi Festival by Tom Watkins via Unsplash
Holi Festival by Tom Watkins via Unsplash

Important Travel Tips

Before traveling for Holi Celebrations, below are a few tips you will find useful.

It is done better in North India

Although this celebration is done across India, the North does it better. If you want to experience the exuberance of Holi celebrations, fly direct to North India. Many towns and cities there have the best Holi atmosphere and you can land in any of Jaipur, Jaisalmer, Udaipur, Mathura, and Delhi.

Understand the traditions and significance of Holi

Of course, you can enjoy a celebration without knowing what it is about, but that way it will have no meaning to you. Holi celebration is about brotherhood, a celebration of spring, and unity. Importantly it is a celebration of triumph over evil. The celebration has many methodological stories attached, the most being how Krishna painted Radha’s face. This signifies harmony in love.

Don’t celebrate alone

Don’t go into the streets in India’s cities by yourself, find a group or a family to celebrate with. Or if you are in Delhi, there are several private clubs where people play Holi. You need to be very cautious, especially if you are a woman (foreign woman). During this period, males usually use this chance to grope ladies and it can go terribly bad if you are alone.

Cover up your entire body with outfits you can throw away

The celebration involves color bombing. Covering your entire body will ensure the color does not come into contact with your skin. You should also cover your skin with oil. There are several shops in India you can buy cheap white garments for playing Holi.

Check out our complete list of recommended Hotels in India via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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