India is known as the country of religious diversity and therefore people residing in this nation celebrate different types of festivals. Festivals make people rejoice with their family, friends, and loved ones. Holi is one of the biggest festivals of India that is celebrated with great enthusiasm and joy. It is the festival that fills us with the joy of love with colors in the most pleasant weather of the year.
Holi - The Festival of Colors and Love
The beginning of every New Year is marked by the celebration of the first biggest festival of the year called Holi. It is a great Indian festival that is celebrated in the month of Phalguna after ending of the winter. It is also denoted as the harvest festival. Holi is popularly known as the festival of colors and love. It is celebrated by the people in all the parts of India. The celebration of the festival is not similar in every state of India. People of different states celebrate this great fest in their own way according to their cultural tradition.
Celebration of the Festival of Colors
The Night Celebration of Holika Dahan - The celebration of this great festival begins a day before by burning of the Holika on Puranmasi. It is also called Choti Holi. People burn all the waste materials from houses and wood pieces, branches of trees, leaves, etc. that have been collected from a month in form of a heap. They celebrate this ritual by dancing and clapping around the fire. This tradition is connected with an old age belief. It is considered that all the evil and negativity is burnt in the fire and the next day the festival of Holi is celebrated with great Joy.
Holi Celebration - The next day after Holika Dahan is the celebration day. People on this day wear white-colored clothes. Men wear white kurta-pajama and women can be seen in white saree or suits. People on this day gather together in the morning and play Holi with each other by splashing colors, gulal, and water. Mud, waste, cow dung, and flowers are also used at some places to play Holi. There is also the provision of drinking buttermilk with Bhang on this day. People after drinking buttermilk play colors and dance with great joy. Children enjoy this festival a lot. They form their own groups and play with colors. They also throw water-filled balloons on each other and people passing by. It is very difficult to identify people with colored faces.
The color playing ceremony is ended in the afternoon and people retire to their houses. They take bath to remove the color from their faces and body. Further, they get ready for the evening celebration of the festival. People dress in new attire and visit their friends, relatives, neighbors, and close ones. They meet each other and wish them ‘Holi Mubarak’ by embracing each other. Gujhiya is the sweet delicacy that is served on this day along with several other snacks.
The History behind Celebrating Holika Dahan
There are many stories prevalent as the reason behind the celebration of this festival. Long ago there lived a Demon king called Hiranyakashyap. He attained different powers and blessings of God by his prayers. He was also blessed with immortality. He was very proud of his powers and started considering himself as God. The people in his kingdom worshipped him only as their supreme power. He had a son named Prahlad who was the great devotee of Lord Vishnu. This act of his son made him filled with rage and anger. He tried to kill his son in several ways but was unsuccessful every time as Prahlad was saved because of the blessings of God.
Holika was the sister of the demon king. Hirannayakashyapu decided to kill his son by making him sit in the fire with his sister Holika. Holika was blessed with a magical cloak that would prevent her from burning after she wore it. She did the same and sat in the middle of the fire by taking Prahlad in her laps. It was due to the blessing of God that Prahlad was safe and Holika was burnt to ashes. Later Hiranyakashyapu was killed by Lord Vishnu in Narsimha avatar.
Why Holika Dahan is Celebrated a Day before Holi?
This tradition has been in practice for a longer period of time. According to Hindu mythology, it is stated that Hiranyakashyapu the demon king asked her sister Holika to sit in the fire with Prahlad in her lap. She was blessed with a magical cloak by Lord Brahma that would prevent her from any harm. She sat on fire with a motive to kill Prahlad but Prahlad was safe because of the blessings of God. The magical cloak flew and was wrapped around Prahalad’s body and Holika was burnt to ashes. Since then the celebration of this tradition is continued till today.
The festival Holi itself derives its name from Holika. The safe rescue of Prahlad is the motive of the celebration of the festival as Holi. The bonfire is burnt one night before the Holi celebration. The bonfire is considered as the burning of Holika and her evil deeds in the fire. People burn the wood pieces, waste material from their houses after cleaning, etc., and dance around the fire for celebrating the burning of the negativity. It is considered that every kind of evil and negativity is burnt in the bonfire and hence there will be a new beginning ahead with the celebration of the festival.
Every celebration is made on behalf of a strong motive behind that. The Holi is celebrated in the happiness of victory of good over evil that is best demonstrated by the safe rescue of Prahlad and burning of evil motive i.e. Holika. Therefore Holika Dahan is celebrated one day before the celebration of Holi.
Holi is a great festival that symbolizes the victory of good deeds over the evil motive. The festival of colors makes everything in the surroundings appear colorful. Colors are capable of filling joy in everyone’s life and so is this festival. The festival of Holi inculcates the feeling of love and happiness among people and gives the message of unity and brotherhood.