Holi is one of the most popular festivals in India. It is celebrated on full moon day in the month of Phalgun.Holi falls in the month of March. Holi also marks the beginning of spring and is thus sometimes reffered to as spring season of India.
Legends of Holi -
The most popular legend is that of Hirankashyap and Prahlad. According to the legend, Hirankashyap was a powerful king and he wanted people of his kingdom to consider him as god. However, his son used to worship Lord Vishnu. Hirankashyap was annoyed with this and wanted to kill his son. Thus, he asked the help of his sister Holika who had the boon to remain unaffected by fire. Holika took Prahlad with her in the fire but Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad and Holika was killed. From that day, holika is burned and Holi is celebrated marking the victory of good over bad.
Another story is of Lord Krishna and Pootana. Kansa wanted to kill Krishna and thus he asked help from Pootana. Pootana tried to kill infant Krishna by feeding him poisonous milk but Krishna sucked her blood.
Hollika Dahan is perfomed one day before Holi. For this, wood is gathered by people for bonfire in parks or near temples. It is performed to celebrate the victory of good over evil. On the day of Holi, people play with colors and gulal with friends and relatives. Small children play with “Pichkaris”. Solutions are prepared with colors and then poured on friends. Sweets are also prepared in every house and distributed in the neighborhood. People visit each other’s home and wish them happiness and prosperity. It is believed that even enemies become friends on this day and forgot all bad memories of the past.
Regional names, rituals and celebration
Holi is celebrated throughout India but with some modifications at every place. For instance, in Gujarat it is a two day festival. On first gay people set bonfire in gatherings and the second day is known as “Dhuleti”. On this day people sprinkle colored water on each other. In Uttar Pratesh, the festival is of special significance in Mathura. Lath mar holi is celebrated here in Radha Rani Temple. In Kanpur region, Holi is organized as seven days festival. After the end of seven days grand Holi mela is organized. In Uttarakhand, the festival is known as Kumaoni Holi. It has different forms here like Baithiki Holi, Khari Holi and Mahila Holi. In Bihar, the festival of Holi is known as Phaguwa. Holika is celebrated here one day before Holi. In West Bengal, the festival is known as Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima. On this day icons of Radha and Krishna are made to travel in streets of villages and cities. In Assam, the festival is celebrated as “Phakuwa” or Dol Jatra.