FESTIVALS - HOLI - Happy Holi - March 18 2022

HOLI is the festival of joy, mirth and buoyancy and is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun according to the Hindu Calendar which is the month of March as per the Gregorian Calendar. Holi is also the festval of colours.

Festival of colours.
Holi or Holika, also called holikotsava, is an extremely popular festival observed throughout the country (India). It is especially marked by unmixed gaiety and frolics and is common to all sections of the people.

During the three days of this festival, particularly the whole country, towns, cities and villages - go gay with merry makers, streets, parks and public places are crowded with people, daubed in diverse colours, looking funny and ridiculous. Children and youngsters vie with each other in being original and use fast and sticky colours. It is all a mirthful abandon for them.

The mythological origins of this festival vary in different parts of the country. In South India specially in Tamilnadu and Kerala the legend that is popular is of Kamdev-the Love-god, his bow is of sugarcane having the string of a line of humming bees and his arrow-shafts are topped with passion that pierce the heart. In spring he moves through woodlands and hunts birds, beasts and men. Once in his foolish pride, he aimed his arrow at the mighty Lord Shiv who was in deep meditation. Lord Shiv opened his third eye and burnt him to ashes. Grief-stricken Rati, Kamdev's wife beseeched Lord Shiv to take pity on her and restore her husband to life. Shiv relented and granted her the boon that she could see her husband but he would remain "anang" that meant without the physical human form. Hence, the songs sung during Holi tell the pathetic tale of Rati and her lamentations. In Tamilnadu Holi is known by three different names - Kamavilas, Kaman Pandigai and Kama-dahanam.


Lord Krishna, the 8th incarnation of Lord Vishnu is also worshipped during the Holi festival, which is celebrated as a commemoration of a mythological incident. Putana, the she-demon was sent by the cruel king Kamsa to kill the child Krishna. In guise of a beautiful woman, Putana went about in the village of Nandgaon suckling every child to death. But the infant Krishna sucked her breasts till blood started flowing and she succumbed to her death. Hence, on the previous evening of the Holi day, bonfires are lighted to celebrate the victory of Krishna and the death of Putana. Those who attribute the origin of festivals to seasonal cycles maintain that Putana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.

More Legends
The mighty king Hiranyakashyapu in his stupendous ego ordered his people to worship him as god. His son Prahlad defying his father's orders continued his worship of LordVishnu. The king wanting to kill Prahlad and wipe out the very name of Lord Vishnu sent his sister Holika, who possessed the boom of never being burnt by fire, to destroy Prahlad. She cajoled the young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire with the full conviction that fire could never touch her. But the flames devoured Holika and Prahlad walked out of the fire unscathed and alive. Perhaps this festival got its name from this incident. Certainly it was the victory of good over Evil.

In North India and Uttar Pradesh, this victory is celebrated; effigies of Holika are burnt in the huge bonfires that are lit. This tradition is also followed in Gujarat and Orissa. To render greatfulness to Agni, god of Fire, gram and stalks from the harvest are also offered to Agni with all humility.

According to the stories in the Puranas and various local legends are consolidated as beow:

  • It was on this day that Lord Siva opened his third eye and reduced Kamadeva (the god of love, Cupid or Eros) to ashes.
  • It was on this day that Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakasyapu, who tried to kill the child devotee Prahlad by taking him on her lap and sitting on a pyre of wood which was set ablaze. Holika was burnt to ashes while Prahlad remained unscathed!
  • It was again on this day that an ogress called Dhundhi, who was troubling the children in the kingdom of Prthu (or Raghu) was made to run away for life, by the shouts and pranks of the mischievous boys. Though she had secured several boons that made her almost invincible, this – noise, shouts, abuses and pranks of boys – was a chink in her armour due to a curse of Lord Siva. The day itself came to be called ‘Adada’ or ‘Holika’ since then.
  • There are practically no religious observances for this day like fasting or worship.

The day is also celebrated as the birthday of Sri Krsna Chaitanya (A.D. 1486-1533), mostly in Bengal, as also in Puri (Orissa), Mathura and Vrndavan (in Uttar Pradesh).

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