The History of Holi Festival and How It Was Celebrated in India

Are you excited for the upcoming Holi Festival India? Known as a carefree festivity, the festival is an annual Hindu tradition taking place on Purnima (full moon) in spring. Locals celebrate the 2-day festival through Holika Dahan and the popular Color Festival. Check out the description below to know how Holi Festival is celebrated.

What is Holi Festival?

Holi Festival Merriness

Holi Festival is an annual celebration to welcome the arrival of spring and the end of winter. But, do you know that it is also celebrated to honor the Hinduism teachings? The festival is believed to be the time to burn away evil. That’s why the first day is dedicated to the Holika Dahan ritual, and the second day is for the Color Festival.

On Holika Dahan, locals gather around a pyre after sunset. They light up the bonfire and offer a puja (prayer) to their Gods. The bonfire symbolizes rebirth and new beginnings, and the ritual is the time to burn away all their evil and impurities. The festivity of Holi continues to the second day, the Color Festival.

holi powder coloring

As the name suggests, you will see colors everywhere. The festival puts great emphasis on community and fun. You will see people gather on the street to mingle and throw colors at each other. Children, teenagers, and adults sing or dance with gulag (colored powder) all over. You might even see locals’ playing musical instruments.

The festival is a joyous event for locals in India, but why is Holi celebrated?

Also Read : Bali, Pura Luhur Uluwatu

History of Holi Festival

Holi Festival celebration dates back over centuries ago, and it originates from India’s Hinduism teachings and folklores. Here are the two most well-known legends about it.

history of holi - holika dahan

First is the legend of Prahlada and Holika. Prahlada was the son of Hiranyakashipu, a powerful demon king hated for his cruelty. The boy refused to worship his father as a God and devoted himself to the Hindu God Krishna instead. His “insolence” earned him numerous attempts on his life.

The last attempt was done by Holika, Hiranyakashipu’s evil sister, who tricked Prahlada to sit with her on a pyre. The plan failed as Prahlada’s devotion kept him safe. Instead, Holika perished after losing her shawl that was supposed to protect her from the fire. Their story was remembered as when good triumphed over evil, and the locals celebrated it through Holika Dahan by burning an effigy of Prahlada and Holika on top of the pyre.

history of holi festival - krishna and radha

Next is the legend of Krishna and Radha. In some areas, Holi Festival is held to celebrate Krishna and Radha’s devoted love. Growing up with blue skin color, Krishna felt sad about whether Radha and other fair-skinned girls in the village will like him. To appease her son, Krishna’s mother told him to paint Radha’s face with color. Later, after Krishna had colored Radha’s face, they became a couple. This then became the popular Color Festival of Holi.

Holi Festival Celebrations

holi festival celebrations in india

This year, the main event is celebrated on March 9-10, 2020. As a tourist, you should visit areas that are very inclusive of foreign visitors like Mathura, Vrindavan, and Rajasthan. Be prepared for getting colors as the locals are more than happy to get you to join in the fun.

If you wish to see something different, you should visit West Bengal, where singing and dancing are the keys of the festival, or Barsana and Nandgaon, where the locals engage in Lathmar Holi, in which women playfully chase around men and beat them with sticks. Lathmar Holi is celebrated 4-5 days before the main event, so make sure you are there before it begins.

Holi Festival is a celebration you should not miss. You can reserve your flight ticket to India at Airpaz and get painted with gulag. Happy Holi day!


Share with us