Holi Date in the current year: March 21, 2019

Holi Holi is an ancient Hindu spring festival, also known as the festival of colors. It is celebrated on the full moon of the month of Phalgun in the Bengali calendar, which usually falls during late February or March in the Gregorian calendar. Holi is a public holiday in some countries with a significant Hindu population.

In different parts of India, there are different legends that explain the celebration of Holi. One of the legends ties the festival to the god Vishnu and his follower Prahlada; another claims that Holi is a commemoration of the divine love of the goddess Radha for the deity Krishna. Other Hindu traditions link the legendary significance of Holi to Shiva, his wife Parvati and the goddess of love Kama, whom Parvati asked to bring her husband back into the world from his deep meditation.

The legend about Vishnu and Prahlada is the most common mythological explanation for the festival. In different parts of India, there are different variants of the legend, but all agree that the events of the legend occurred in Multan (a city in present-day Pakistan) where Vishnu killed the demoness Holika to save his devotee Prahlada, whom she had tricked into the fire. Thanks to Vishnu’s intervention, Holika burned to death, while Prahlada was unscathed.

Today, the death of Holika is symbolized by the annual bonfire on Holi eve. Days before the beginning of the festival, people start gathering wood for Holika pyres. On the night before Holi, they ignite the pyres and begin to sing and dance around them. This ritual symbolizes the victory of good over evil.

The festival of colors begins in the morning. People flood the streets and chase each other, trying to color other participants with dry pigments or colored water. Some people carry water guns, water-filled balloons, and other creative means to color other revelers. Everyone in open areas is a potential target, but inside buildings or at doorways it is only allowed to use dry powder to smear others’ faces. Of course, revelers use safe pigments that are easy to wash off.

The celebration of Holi also involves singing, dancing, drinking, eating holiday delicacies, and exchanging sweets with friends and relatives.

For Hindus, Holi is a day to forget, forgive, and mend broken relationships. On this day, they ask for forgiveness, end conflicts and reconcile, pay or forgive debts, and rid themselves of past errors. For non-Hindus who also observe Holi, this is a day of fun, laugh, partying, and enjoyment.

In some countries or regions with a significant Hindu population, Holi is a public holiday. They include Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Guyana, Nepal, and Suriname. In addition to these countries, the festival is widely celebrated in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, South Africa, the UK, the United States, Mauritius, Canada, Fiji, and some other parts of the world.

In recent years, Holi-inspired events have become very popular in Europe and the United States. They borrow color fights as the best-known aspect of Holi and combine it with other entertainment. Such events rarely coincide with the actual Holi festival; they are sometimes criticized for appropriating the festival for commercial gain and downplaying its cultural and spiritual roots.

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Category

Religious Holidays

Country

Bangladesh, Guyana, India, Nepal, Suriname, Sri Lanka

Tags

Holi, festival of colors, Hindu festival, public holiday, religious holiday