Holi is a unique and unforgettable festival of colours like no other, and it is also one of the oldest festivals still celebrated today. You can recognise it immediately because it is celebrated with colours, extreme enthusiasm and a lot of energy. It is impossible to miss the sight of people celebrating Holi when you are around.Here are some interesting facts about Holi that everyone should know:
1. The origin of the name Holi:
The name of the Holi festival has an interesting origin. It is derived from Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyap ‘from Hindu mythology with a legend behind it. Days prior to the festival, people begin collecting wood and combustible materials for bonfires in parks, community centres, nearby temples, and other open spaces.
On top of the pyre is an effigy to imply Holika, who deceived Prahalad into the fire.
2. The Legend of the Evil King Hirankashyap:
The fascinating legend is that the Evil King, Hiranyakashyap, forbade his son Prahlad from worshipping the Hindu god, Lord Vishnu. However, Prahlad revered Vishnu despite the disapproval of his father.
Therefore, the Demon King ordered Prahlad to sit on a stake (a structure usually made of wood to burn a body as part of a funeral rite or execution) and Holika (who was immune to fire), sister of the Demon King.
When the fire broke out, Holika was cremated to death despite her immunity to fire, and Prahlad was miraculously saved because Prahlad sought the help of Lord Vishnu during the event. This important event is repeated today in the form of Holika Dahan.
3. Association of Lord Krishna with Holi:
There is another story about the origin of Holi that has to do with Lord Krishna. Legend has it that Lord Krishna was poisoned by Putana’s breast milk as a baby and developed the characteristic blue complexion of his skin.
Krishna was unsure if the fair-skinned Radha and other girls would like it; Radha came over and painted her face in some colours.
Radha accepted Krishna despite his blue skin, and the Holi festival has been celebrated since that day. However, this is a lesser-known fact about Holi and the less accepted version of the origin of Holi. But the story is well accepted as a legend.
4. Celebrations around the world:
Almost all Hindu festivals have regional variations. However, Holi is a national festival celebrated in its proper form in all 28 states of India.
Although Holi is one of the oldest Hindu religious festivals and Chhath, it has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia and with people from other communities outside of Asia.
In addition to India and Nepal, the festival is celebrated by the diaspora of the Indian subcontinent in countries such as Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Malaysia, Great Britain, the United States, Canada, Mauritius and Fiji.
5. A festival that is celebrated by all religions:
The festival is also traditionally celebrated by non-Hindus such as Jains and Buddhists Newar (Nepal).
Holi is a festival whose celebration is so remarkable that it can be witnessed in all parts of India. However, a unique feature of the festival is that all religions celebrate it with the same enthusiasm by people of all faiths.
An incredible sight in a secular country like India. It becomes more attractive as Holi is such an extravagant festival in a celebration that you will be surprised.
6. The meaning of day of the celebration:
Holi is celebrated after the full moon in the month of “Phalguna”, which generally falls between February and March.
It also marks the end of the bitter winter season and is moving towards warmer days. The festival signifies the arrival of spring, the end of winter, the blossoming of love, and for many, a holiday to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and mend broken relationships.
7. Use of many colours:
The use of synthetic colours during the Holi festival is a new trend. In reality, this has been a concern for many people. However, many prefer to play with water and some homemade natural colours and gulal.
There has been a gradual shift towards natural colours. This is how it was celebrated in ancient India.
Natural colours are generally derived from indigo, sunflower, and marigold flowers.
8. Holika Dahan: A day before Holi:
The Holika Dahan festival (burial of the Holi funeral pyre) begins the night before Holi when people gather and light a bonfire.
The campfire is lit between 8 pm and midnight. People gather around the fire to watch, eat good foods and talk with friends.
9. Celebration of Holika Dahan:
The Holika bonfire is a place where people gather and perform their religious rituals. During their religious practices, people ask God for forgiveness and pray that his evil will come to an end.
On the eve of Holi, usually at sunset or after, the pyre, which means Holika Dahan, is lit. The ritual symbolizes the victory of good over evil. People gather around the fire to sing and dance.
10. Celebration of Rangwali Holi:
The second day of the Holi festival, also called “Rangwali Holi”, is the primary day when people play with wet and dry colours. People hunt each other to colour each other.
Water is a big part of the event, as many people use water balloons and participate in exciting water fights with their family and friends.
There are many different colours involved, and it is a grand time for everyone as everyone, regardless of age, participates.