India > Festivals > Holi 2017

Holi - The Festival of Color

The festival, Holi is a religious festival celebrated by Hindus, at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. It is primarily observed in India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.

Certainly the people of India are perennial rituals attached to Holi: the first is smearing of colored powder on each other, and throwing colored and scented water at each other using Pichkaris (squirt guns).

The main emphasis of the festival is on the burning of Holika (female demons). Traditionally a bonfire on the before of Holi day, marks the symbolic annihilation of Holika the female demons the end of dark or demonic forces.

Holi (Color Festival) 2017 in India Traditionally, Holi is a Hindu festival and declared as a Central Government Holiday or Gazetted Holiday in India. Current year this festival will be celebrated on 13th March, 2017 (Monday). This festival less or more celebrates in all the states and Union Territories of India. Celebration Day: Monday, 13/03/2017. Last time Holi was celebrated on 24th March, 2016 (Thursday) and next year it will be celebrated on 2nd March, 2018 (Friday).

Story behind Holi

According to Hinduism, Lord Krishna playfully applied color on Radha's face, as she was fairer than him. This gave rise to the festival of Holi and the tradition of playing with colors.

The legend says there once lived a devil and powerful king, Hiranyakshyap who considered himself a god and wanted everybody to worship him. To his great ire, his son, Prahlad began to worship, Lord Vishnu. To get rid of his son, Hiranyakshyap asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap, as she had a boon to enter fire unscathed. Legend has it that Prahlad was saved for his extreme devotion for the lord while Holika burnt to death. The tradition of burning Holika or the 'Holika dahan' comes mainly from this legend.

Some people believe that Kamadeva's (a god of love) body was destroyed when he shot his weapon at God Shiva in order to disrupt his meditation and help Parvati (goddess) to marry Shiva. Shiva then opened his third eye, the gaze of which was so powerful that Kama's body was reduced to ashes. The Holi bonfire is believed to be celebrated in memorial of this event.

Celebrations of Holi

Uttar Pradesh
The festival Holi, most popular is in Uttar Pradesh. Here the famous Lath mar Holi is played in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple. Thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar holi when women beat up men with sticks.

In Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna and in Vrindavan this day is celebrated with the traditional custom of worshipping Lord Krishna, here the festival last for sixteen days.

Uttarakhand
The uniqueness of the Kumaoni Holi of the Kumaon region in Uttarakhand lies in its being a musical affair and this are unique in the songs on which they are based have touch of melody, fun and spiritualism.

Bihar
In Bihar Holi is known as Phagwa in the local Bhojpuri dialect. Here too, the legend of Holika is common. On the evening of Phalgun Poornima (day of full moon night in the month Phalgun), people light bonfires.

The festival is usually played with colors at some places people also enjoy playing Holi with mud. Folk songs are sung at high pitch and people dance to the tune of Dholak and the spirit of Holi.

Exciting bhang (a type of Drugs) is consumed with a variety of mouth watering delicacies such as Pakoras and Thandai to enhance the mood of the festival.

Goa
Holi is a part of Konkani spring festival known as ?igmo in Konkani. ?igmo is the One of the most famous festivals of the Konkani community in Goa and the Konkani diaspora in the state of Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala.

Gujarat
In Gujarat, a pot of buttermilk is hung high on the streets and young boys try to reach it and break it by making human pyramids. The girls try to stop them by throwing colored water on them. The boy who finally manages to break the pot is crowned the Holi King.

There is an another custom in the undivided Hindu families that the women of the families beat their brother-in-law with her sari rolled up into a rope in a mock rage as they try to drench them with colors, and in turn, the brothers-in-law bring sweetmeats to her in the evening.

Manipur
Manipuris celebrate Holi for six days. Traditionally, the festival commences with the burning of a thatched hut of hay and twigs. Young children go from house to house to collect money. The youths at night perform a group folk dance called 'Thaabal Chongba' on the full moon night of Lamta (month).

Kochi
In the Mattancherry area of Kochi, there are 22 different communities living together in harmony. The Gaud Sarawat Brahmins (GSB) who speaks Konkani also celebrates Holi in Cherlai area of West Kochi. It is celebrated around the Konkani temple called Gosripuram Thirumala temple.

Others states
In the states Maharashtra Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Bengal Holi is mainly celebrated in same ways. The festival is running for tow days.

The first day celebrate with the burning of Holika. A week before the festival, youngsters go around the community, collecting firewood and money. On the day of Holi, the firewood is arranged in a huge pile at a clearing in the locality. In the evening, the fire is lit. Every household makes an offering of a meal and desert to the fire god.

The second day of the festival People hit Gulal and Abeer (colored water) on each others' faces and cheer with gladly. Holi also gives a wonderful chance to send blessings and love to dear ones wrapped in a special Holi gift.