Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that occurs at the beginning of spring. It celebrates new life and the triumph of good over evil.
The Holi festival is also known as “the festival of spring,” “the festival of colors,” and the “festival of love.”
When is the Holi Festival Celebrated?
Holi is celebrated annually in March. It lasts for two days and marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. In 2021, it will take place on the 29th of March.
Holi Festival Celebrations
Holi is a colorful festival. During the Holi festival celebrations, people take to the streets and playfully chase each other, covering each other in bright dried paint and colored water.
People celebrating Holi will have water fights using water balloons and water guns. They’ll also sing, dance, and have fun together. Everyone joins in with the celebrations, regardless of age, gender, or wealth.
On the night before the Holi festival, people light bonfires and perform religious rituals.
Being all about love and new life, Holi is a time for repairing relationships and laughing with family and friends.
Family and friends gather and enjoy Holi food and drink. This includes:
- Gujiya – small dumplings;
- Dahi Vada – a deep-fried ball made from flour and topped with herbs and yogurt;
- Pakora – a vegetable fritter;
- Barfi – treats made with condensed milk and sugar.
The Story of Holi
Similar to Diwali, Holi celebrates a Hindu god. However, there are different stories of Holi, its history, and how it began. One revolves around Holika and Prince Prahlad, and the other around Krishna.
Holi gets its name from Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyap. The ancient story of Holi states that Lord Vishnu, a Hindu god, killed the demon king’s younger brother. So, Hiranyakashyap wanted to avenge his brother’s death and take Vishnu’s power over heaven and the underworld. And, believing he’d become invincible, he convinced the people to abandon their gods and pray to him. But, Hiranyakashyap’s son, Prahlad, stayed true to Vishnu. Furious, Hiranyakashyap planned to kill Prahlad with Holika’s help, who was immune to fire. So, Holika started a fire and held Prahlad while sitting on the fire. However, Prahlad survived, Holika burned and died, and Vishnu defeated the demon king.
So, Holi originates in being a celebration of good triumphing over evil. People still re-enact this story on Holi, lighting bonfires the night before the Holi festival begins to keep away evil spirits.
Another story of Holi is about Krishna and his love for Radha. As a young boy, Krishna’s skin became dark blue after being poisoned by the demoness, Putana. He was worried that because of this, Radha wouldn’t love him. Krishna’s mother suggested he playfully smear brightly colored powder on Radha’s face. Radha fell in love with Krishna, and the two were married. Krishna was playful and mischievous, continuing to throw colored water at people. And this is why the Holi festival is known as the Festival of Colours.
Where is Holi Celebrated?
The Holi festival originated in India, where most Hindus live.
Holi is also a major festival in Nepal, other parts of South Asia, and worldwide. Here’s a list of other places around the world where Holi is celebrated:
- United Kingdom
- Trinidad and Tobago
- South Africa
- New Zealand
- United States
- The Netherlands
10 Holi Festival Facts for Children
- Traditionally, people used plant-based colors sourced from turmeric and dhak during Holi festival celebrations.
- The bonfires lit the night before the Holi celebrations begin, known as Holika Dahan – this is also what the first day of Holi is known as.
- The Holi festival is held on a different date every year. It’s celebrated after the full moon in the month of ‘Phalguna,’ which falls between February and March.
- Krishna was born in the Brag region of India, and here the festivities last for 16 days.
- To minimize any risk of danger from synthetic paints and materials, people celebrating Holi often make naturally dried powders from sunflower, indigo, and marigold flowers.
- The second day of Holi is known as Rangwali Holi, Dhulandi, Dhulivandan, or Dhuleti.
- Holi has become popular amongst non-Hindu communities across South Asia and worldwide.
- Jains and Newar Buddhists in Nepal also celebrate the Holi festival.
- The Holi festival is celebrated in every region of India.
- The Holi festival has different names in different regions of India. Other words for Holi include Lathmar Holi, Dulhandi, Rangpanchami, and Phaguwa.