HOLI ( /ˈhoʊliː/ ; Sanskrit : होली Holī) is a Hindu
spring festival celebrated in
Nepal , also known as the
"festival of colours" or the "festival of love". The festival
signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of
winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh,
forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. It is also
celebrated as a thanksgiving for a good harvest. It lasts for a
night and a day, starting on the evening of the
Purnima (Full Moon
day) falling in the
Hindu Calendar month of
which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of
March in the
Gregorian calendar . The first evening is known as HOLIKA
DAHAN or CHHOTI HOLI and the following day as Holi, RANGWALI HOLI,
DHULETI, DHULANDI, or PHAGWAH.
Holi is an ancient
Hindu religious festival which has become popular
with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of
other communities outside Asia. In recent years the festival has
spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of
love, frolic, and colours.
Holi celebrations start on the night before
Holi with a
where people gather, perform religious rituals in front of the
bonfire, and pray that their internal evil be destroyed the way Holika
, the sister of the demon king
Hiranyakashipu , was killed in the
fire. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali
Holi – a
free-for-all festival of colours, where people smear each other with
colours and drench each other.
Water guns and water-filled balloons
are also used to play and colour each other. Anyone and everyone is
fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children
and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open
streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums
and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance.
People visit family, friends and foes to throw coloured powders on
each other, laugh and gossip, then share
Holi delicacies, food and
drinks. Some customary drinks include bhang (marijuana ), which is
intoxicating. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up and
visit friends and family.
* 1 Significance
* 1.3 Other
* 1.4 Cultural significance
* 1.5 Other Indian religions
* 2 Description
* 3 History and rituals
* 4 Regional names, rituals and celebrations
* 4.1.11 Manipur
* 4.1.12 Kerala
* 4.1.15 Tamil Nadu
Jammu & Kashmir
Jammu & Kashmir
* 4.1.17 Punjab ">
Holika bonfire in front of Jagdish Temple in
Rajasthan , 2010
There is a symbolic legend to explain why
Holi is celebrated as a
festival of colours in the honour of
Vishnu and his follower
Prahlada . King Hiranyakashipu, according to a legend found in chapter
Bhagavata Purana , was the king of demonic Asuras , and had
earned a boon that gave him five special powers: he could be killed by
neither a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors,
neither at day nor at night, neither by astra (projectile weapons) nor
by any shastra (handheld weapons), and neither on land nor in water or
Hiranyakashipu grew arrogant, thought he was God, and demanded
that everyone worship only him.
Hiranyakashipu's own son,
Prahlada , however, disagreed. He was and
remained devoted to Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He
Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the
boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right. Finally, Holika,
Prahlada's evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her.
Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire,
Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika
and encased Prahlada, who survived while
Holika burned. Vishnu, the
god who appears as an avatar to restore
Hindu beliefs, took
the form of
Narasimha - half human and half lion, at dusk (when it was
neither day nor night), took Hiranyakashyapu at a doorstep (which was
neither indoors nor outdoors), placed him on his lap (which was
neither land, water nor air), and then eviscerated and killed the king
with his lion claws (which were neither a handheld weapon nor a
Holika bonfire and
Holi signifies the celebration of the symbolic
victory of good over evil, of
Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the
fire that burned Holika.
Braj region of India, where the
Krishna grew up,
the festival is celebrated until Rangpanchmi in commemoration of the
divine love of
Radha for Krishna. The festivities officially usher in
Holi celebrated as a festival of love. There is a
symbolic myth behind commemorating
Krishna as well. As a baby, Krishna
developed his characteristic dark blue skin colour because the
Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth,
Krishna despaired whether the fair-skinned
Radha and other girls would
like him because of his skin colour. His mother, tired of the
desperation, asks him to approach
Radha and colour her face in any
colour he wanted. This he does, and
Krishna became a couple.
Ever since, the playful colouring of Radha's face has been
commemorated as Holi. Beyond India, these legends to explain the
Holi (Phagwah) are common in some Caribbean and South
American communities of Indian origin such as
Guyana and Trinidad and
Tobago . It is also celebrated with great fervour in Mauritius.
OTHER HINDU TRADITIONS
Hindu traditions such as
Shaktism , the
legendary significance of
Holi is linked to
Shiva in yoga and deep
Parvati wanting to bring back
Shiva into the
world, seeks help from the
Hindu god of love called
Kama on Vasant
Panchami . The love god shoots arrows at Shiva, the yogi opens his
third eye and burns
Kama to ashes. This upsets both Kama's wife Rati
(Kamadevi) and his own wife Parvati. Rati performs her own meditative
asceticism for forty days, upon which
Shiva understands, forgives out
of compassion and restores the god of love. This return of the god of
love, is celebrated on the 40th day after
Vasant Panchami festival as
Kama legend and its significance to
Holi has many variant
forms, particularly in South India.
Holi festival has a cultural significance among various Hindu
traditions of the Indian subcontinent. It is the festive day to end
and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others, a
day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as
deal anew with those in their lives.
Holi also marks the start of
spring, for many the start of the new year, an occasion for people to
enjoy the changing seasons and make new friends.
OTHER INDIAN RELIGIONS
The festival has traditionally been also observed by non-Hindus, such
as by Jains and Newar Buddhists (
Sikhs have traditionally celebrated the festival, at least through
the 19th century, with its historic texts referring to it as Hola.
Guru Gobind Singh
Guru Gobind Singh – the last human guru of the Sikhs – modified
Holi with a three-day
Hola Mohalla extension festival of martial arts.
The extension started the day after the
Holi festival in Anandpur
Sahib , where Sikh soldiers would train in mock battles, compete in
horsemanship, athletics, archery and military exercises.
Holi was observed by Maharaja
Ranjit Singh and his Sikh Empire that
extended across what are now northern parts of
India and Pakistan.
According to a report by Tribune India, Sikh court records state that
300 mounds of colours were used in 1837 by
Ranjit Singh and his
Ranjit Singh would celebrate
Holi with others in
the Bilawal gardens, where decorative tents were set up. In 1837, Sir
Henry Fane who was the commander-in-chief of the British Indian army
Holi celebrations organised by Ranjit Singh. A mural in the
Lahore Fort was sponsored by
Ranjit Singh and it showed the
Holi with gopis. After the death of Ranjit Singh, his
Sikh sons and others continued to play
Holi every year with colours
and lavish festivities. The colonial British officials joined these
Radha and the Gopis celebrating Holi, with accompaniment of
Holi is an important spring festival for Hindus, a national holiday
in India, a regional holiday in
Nepal and other countries. To many
Hindus and some non-Hindus, it is a playful cultural event and an
excuse to throw coloured water at friends or strangers in jest. It is
therefore observed broadly in the
Indian subcontinent .
celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the
Hindu luni-solar calendar month marking the spring, making the date
vary with the lunar cycle. The date falls typically in March, but
sometimes late February of the Gregorian calendar.
and drinks, post play with colours. Left: salty snacks, Middle: Gujia
(a stuffed energy wrap), Right:
Thandai (almonds-based chilled drink)
to which sometimes intoxicating "bhang" is added.
The festival has many purposes; most prominently, it celebrates the
beginning of Spring. In 17th century literature, it was identified as
a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring
harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of
enjoying spring's abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. To
Holi festivities mark the beginning of the new year as
well as an occasion to reset and renew ruptured relationships, end
conflicts and rid themselves of accumulated emotional impurities from
It also has a religious purpose, symbolically signified by the legend
of Holika. The night before Holi, bonfires are lit in a ceremony known
Holika Dahan (burning of
Holika ) or Little Holi. People gather
near fires, sing and dance. The next day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in
Sanskrit, or Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated. Children
and youth spray coloured powder solutions (gulal) at each other, laugh
and celebrate, while adults smear dry coloured powder (abir) on each
other's faces. Visitors to homes are first teased with colours, then
Holi delicacies (such as puranpoli, dahi-bada and gujia),
desserts and drinks. After playing with colours, and cleaning up,
people bathe, put on clean clothes, and visit friends and family.
Kama Dahanam is celebrated in some parts of India
. The festival of colours in these parts is called Rangapanchami, and
occurs on the fifth day after Poornima (full moon).
HISTORY AND RITUALS
Holi is an ancient
Hindu festival with its cultural rituals. It is
mentioned in the
Puranas , Dasakumara Charita, and by the poet
Kālidāsa during the 4th century reign of Chandragupta II. The
Holi is also mentioned in the 7th-century Sanskrit
Ratnavali . The festival of
Holi caught the fascination of
European traders and British colonial staff by the 17th century.
Various old editions of Oxford English Dictionary mention it, but with
varying, phonetically derived spellings: Houly (1687), Hooly (1698),
Huli (1789), Hohlee (1809), Hoolee (1825), and
Holi in editions
published after 1910.
There are several cultural rituals associated with Holi: Prepare
Holika pyre for bonfire
Holika Dahan Shops start selling colours for Holi
in the days and weeks beforehand.
Days before the festival people start gathering wood and combustible
materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples
and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is an effigy to signify
Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. Inside homes, people stock
up on pigments, food, party drinks and festive seasonal foods such as
gujiya , mathri , malpuas and other regional delicacies.
On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the pyre is lit,
Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good
over evil. People gather around the fire to sing and dance. Play
Holi frolic and celebrations begin the morning after the Holika
bonfire. There is no tradition of holding puja (prayer), and the day
is for partying and pure enjoyment. Children and young people form
groups armed with dry colours, coloured solution and water guns
(pichkaris), water balloons filled with coloured water, and other
creative means to colour their targets. In the
Braj region of
North India, women have the option to playfully hit men who save
themselves with shields; for the day, men are culturally expected to
accept whatever women dish out to them. This ritual is called Lath Mar
Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colours such as
turmeric , neem , dhak , and kumkum were used, but water-based
commercial pigments are increasingly used. All colours are used.
Everyone in open areas such as streets and parks is game, but inside
homes or at doorways only dry powder is used to smear each other's
face. People throw colours and get their targets completely coloured
up. It is like a water fight , but with coloured water. People take
delight in spraying coloured water on each other. By late morning,
everyone looks like a canvas of colours. This is why
Holi is given the
Festival of Colours".
Groups sing and dance, some playing drums and dholak . After each
stop of fun and play with colours, people offer gujiya , mathri ,
malpuas and other traditional delicacies. Cold drinks, including
adult drinks based on local intoxicating herbs, are also part of the
Holi festivity. Other variations Friends form groups on Holi,
play drums and music, sing and dance, as they move from one stop to
Braj region around
Mathura , in north India, the festivities
may last more than a week. The rituals go beyond playing with colours,
and include a day where men go around with shields and women have the
right to playfully beat them on their shields with sticks.
In south India, some worship and make offerings to Kaamadeva, the
love god of Indian mythology. The after party
After a day of play with colours, people clean up, wash and bathe,
sober up and dress up in the evening and greet friends and relatives
by visiting them and exchanging sweets.
Holi is also a festival of
forgiveness and new starts, which ritually aims to generate harmony in
REGIONAL NAMES, RITUALS AND CELEBRATIONS
Holi (Hindi : होली, Nepali : होली, Punjabi :
ਹੋਲੀ, Kannada : ಹೋಳಿ) is also known as PHAKUWA or
PHAGWAH (Assamese : ফাকুৱা), FESTIVAL OF COLOURS, or DOLA
Odisha , and as DOL JATRA (Assamese : দ’ল
যাত্ৰা) or BASANTO UTSAV ("spring festival") in West
Assam . The customs and celebrations vary between regions
of India. Basanto Utsav at Jorasanko Thakurbari.
Holi is of particular significance in the
Braj region, which includes
locations traditionally associated with the Lord
Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh , and
Barsana , which become
touristic during the season of Holi.
Holi is observed by the minority Hindus in Bangladesh
Pakistan as well in countries with large Indian subcontinent
diaspora populations such as
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago ,
South Africa ,
Malaysia , the
United Kingdom , the
United States ,
Mauritius , and
Fiji . The
Holi rituals and customs outside
South Asia also vary with local adaptations.
"Celebration of Spring by
Krishna and Radha", 18th-century
miniature ; in the
Guimet Museum ,
Holi is a two-day festival. On the evening of the first
day people light the bonfire. People offer raw coconut and corn to the
fire. The second day is the festival of colour or "Dhuleti",
celebrated by sprinkling coloured water and applying colours to each
Dwarka , a coastal city of Gujarat, celebrates
Holi at the
Dwarkadheesh temple and with citywide comedy and music festivities.
Holi celebration has its celebrative origins in Gujarat,
particularly with dance, food, music, and coloured powder to offer a
spring parallel of Navratri, Gujarat's
Hindu festival celebrated in
the fall. Falling in the
Hindu month of Phalguna,
Holi marks the
agricultural season of the rabi crop .
Gujarat , in western India, a pot of buttermilk is
hung high over the streets and young boys try to reach it and break it
by making human pyramids. The girls try to stop them by throwing
coloured water on them to commemorate the pranks of
Krishna and the
cowherd boys to steal butter and "gopis " while trying to stop the
girls. The boy who finally manages to break the pot is crowned the
Holi King. Afterwards, the men, who are now very colourful, go out in
a large procession to "alert" people of Krishna's possible appearance
to steal butter from their homes.
In some places there is a custom in undivided
Hindu families that the
woman beats her brother-in-law with a sari rolled up into a rope in a
mock rage and tries to drench him with colours, and in turn, the
brother-in-law brings sweets (Indian desserts) to her in the evening.
Lath mar Holi
Lath mar Holi Colour Drenched Gopis in Krishna
Barsana , a town near
Mathura in the
Braj region of
Uttar Pradesh ,
Lath mar Holi
Lath mar Holi in the sprawling compound of the
temple. Thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar
Holi when women beat
up men with sticks as those on the sidelines become hysterical, sing
Holi songs and shout "Sri Radhey" or "Sri Krishna". The
Holi songs of
Braj mandal are sung in pure Braj, the local language.
Barsana is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with
sticks. Males also sing provocative songs in a bid to invite the
attention of women. Women then go on the offensive and use long staves
called lathis to beat the men, who protect themselves with shields.
Mathura, in the
Braj region, is the birthplace of Lord
Krishna . In
Vrindavan this day is celebrated with special puja and the traditional
custom of worshipping Lord Krishna; here the festival lasts for
sixteen days. All over the
Braj region and neighboring places like
Aligarh , and
Holi is celebrated in more or less the
same way as in Mathura,
Vrindavan and Barsana. A play of colours
then a dance at a
Hindu temple near Mathura, at Holi.
A traditional celebration includes Matki Phod, similar to Dahi Handi
Janmashtami , both in the
memory of god
Krishna who is also called makhan chor (literally,
butter thief). This is a historic tradition of the
Braj region as well
as the western region of India. An earthen pot filled with butter or
other milk products is hung high by a rope. Groups of boys and men
climb on each other's shoulder to form pyramids to reach and break it,
while girls and women sing songs and throw coloured water on the
pyramid to distract them and make their job harder. This ritual sport
Hindu diaspora communities.
Outside Braj, in the
Holi lasts seven days with colour.
On the last day, a grand fair called Ganga Mela or the
Holi Mela is
celebrated. This Mela (fair ) was started by freedom fighters who
fought British rule in the
First Indian War of Independence in 1857
under the leadership of
Nana Saheb . The Mela is held at various ghats
along the banks of the River Ganga in Kanpur, to celebrate the Hindus
and Muslims who together resisted the British forces in the city in
1857. On the eve of Ganga Mela, all government offices, shops, and
courts generally remain closed. The Ganga Mela marks the official end
Festival of Colours" or
Gorakhpur , the northeast district of Uttar Pradesh, the day pig
Holi starts with a special puja . This day, called "
Holi Milan", is
considered to be the most colourful day of the year, promoting
brotherhood among the people. People visit every house and sing Holi
songs and express their gratitude by applying coloured powder (Abeer
). It is also considered the beginning of the year, as it occurs on
the first day of the
Hindu calendar year (Panchang). A natural
Holi in Pune, an alternative to synthetic colours.
Uttarakhand includes a musical affair. It takes
different forms such as the Baithki Holi, the Khari
Holi and the
Mahila Holi. In Baithki
Holi and Khari Holi, people sing songs with a
touch of melody, fun and spiritualism. These songs are essentially
based on classical ragas . Baithki
होली), also known as Nirvan Ki Holi, begins from the premises
of temples, where Holiyars (होल्यार) sing
Holi songs and
people gather to participate, along with playing classical music. The
songs are sung in a particular sequence depending on the time of day;
for instance, at noon the songs are based on Peelu, Bhimpalasi and
Sarang ragas, while evening songs are based on the ragas such as
Kalyan, Shyamkalyan and Yaman. The KHARI HOLI (खड़ी
होली) is mostly celebrated in the rural areas of Kumaon. The
songs of the Khari
Holi are sung by the people, who, sporting
traditional white churidar payajama and kurta , dance in groups to the
tune of ethnic musical instruments such as the dhol and hurka .
In the Kumaon region, the
Holika pyre, known as Cheer (चीर), is
ceremonially built in a ceremony known as Cheer Bandhan (चीर
बंधन) fifteen days before Dulhendi. The Cheer is a bonfire
with a green Paiya tree branch in the middle. The Cheer of every
village and neighborhood is rigorously guarded as rival mohallas try
to playfully steal each other's cheer.
The colours used on
Holi are derived from natural sources. Dulhendi,
known as Charadi (छरड़ी) (from Chharad (छरड़)), is
made from flower extracts, ash and water.
Holi is celebrated with
great gusto much in the same way all across North India.
Holi is known as Phaguwa in the local
Bhojpuri dialect. In this
region as well, the legend of
Holika is prevalent. On the eve of
Phalgun Poornima, people light bonfires. They put dried cow dung
cakes, wood of the Araad or Redi tree and
Holika tree, grains from the
fresh harvest and unwanted wood leaves in the bonfire. At the time of
Holika people assemble near the pyre. The eldest member of the
gathering or a purohit initiates the lighting. He then smears others
with colour as a mark of greeting. Next day the festival is celebrated
with colours and a lot of frolic. Traditionally, people also clean
their houses to mark the festival.
Holi Milan is also observed in
Bihar , where family members and well
wishers visit each other's family, apply colours (abeer ) on each
other's faces, and on feet, if elderly. Usually this takes place on
the evening of
Holi day after
Holi with wet colours is played in the
morning through afternoon. Due to large-scale internal migration
issues faced by the people, recently this tradition has slowly begun
to transform, and it is common to have
Holi Milan on an entirely
different day either before or after the actual day of Holi.
Children and youths take extreme delight in the festival. Though the
festival is usually celebrated with colours, in some places people
also enjoy celebrating
Holi with water solutions of mud or clay. Folk
songs are sung at high pitch and people dance to the sound of the
dholak (a two-headed hand-drum) and the spirit of Holi. Intoxicating
bhang , made from cannabis , milk and spices, is consumed with a
variety of mouth-watering delicacies, such as pakoras and thandai , to
enhance the mood of the festival.
Dol Khela in Kolkata at Thakurbari
West Bengal ,
Holi is known by the name of "Dol Jatra", "Dol
Purnima" or the "Swing Festival". The festival is celebrated in a
dignified manner by placing the icons of
Radha on a
picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main
streets of the city or the village. On the Dol
Purnima day in the
early morning, students dress up in saffron-coloured or pure white
clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers . They sing and dance to
the accompaniment of musical instruments, such as the ektara , dubri ,
and veena . The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance
around the swing and sing devotional songs. During these activities,
the men keep spraying coloured water and coloured powder, abir , at
them. Basanta Utsab at
Jorasanko Thakur Bari in 2015.
The head of the family observes a fast and prays to Lord
Agnidev. After all the traditional rituals are over, he smears
Krishna's icon with gulal and offers "bhog " to both
Holi has a special musical flavour.
Holi are offered traditional dishes that include malpoa ,
kheer sandesh , basanti sandesh (saffron ), saffron milk, payash, and
An 1822 drawing showing elevation of a black stone arch in Puri
, Odisha. It carried Vaishnavite gods and goddess, the ritual noted to
be a part of the
The people of
Odisha celebrate "Dola" on the day of
Holi where the
Jagannath replace the icons of
Krishna and Radha. Dola
Melana, processions of the deities are celebrated in villages and
bhoga is offered to the deities. "Dola yatra" was prevalent even
before 1560 much before
Holi was started where the idols of
Subhadra used to be taken to the
"Dolamandapa" (podium in
Jagannath temple ). People used to offer
natural colours known as "abira" to the deities and apply on each
Andhra Pradesh ,
Holi is celebrated on the full moon day of the
month of Phaalgunamu.
Holi announces the arrival of spring and the
passing of winter. People indulge in merry-making, and playing with
coloured waters is a common sight. Peasants visit homes singing
folklore and asking for small tips. The
Puranas give different version
of the destruction of the she-demon, called as Holika. On the morning
of Holi, people have fun with coloured water. Men, women and children
all participate in this merry making. A bonfire is lit in the
evenings, with an effigy of Holika. This is otherwise known as burning
of Kamudu. The religious orthodox circle the fire seven times,
reciting religious verses. Folklore and dances are performed around
the fire to welcome the new season. In the evening, youngsters play
with dry colours and seek elders’ blessings.
Holi, also called Phakuwa (ফাকুৱা) in Assamese, is
celebrated all over
Assam . Locally called Dol Jatra, associated with
Holi is celebrated over two days. On the first
day, the burning of clay huts are seen in
Barpeta and lower Assam
which signifies the legends of Holika. On the second day of it, Holi
is celebrated with colour powders. The
Holi songs in chorus devoted to
Krishna are also sung in the regions of Barpeta.
Holi is a part of the Goan or Konkani spring festival known as ŚIGMO
or शिगमो in Koṅkaṇī or Śiśirotsava, which lasts for
about a month. The colour festival or
Holi is a part of longer, more
extensive spring festival celebrations.
Holi festivities (but not
Śigmo festivities) include:
Holika Puja and Dahan, Dhulvad or Dhuli
vandan, Haldune or offering yellow and saffron colour or
Gulal to the
Purnima is also celebrated as Shimga,
festivities that last 5 to 7 days. A week before the festival,
youngsters go around the community, collecting firewood and money. On
the day of Shimga, the firewood is heaped into a huge pile in each
neighborhood. In the evening, the fire is lit. Every household brings
a meal and dessert, in the honour of the fire god. Puran Poli is the
main delicacy and children shout "
Holi puranachi poli". Shimga
celebrates the elimination of all evil. The colour celebrations here
take place on the day of
Rangapanchami , five days after Shimga.
During this festival, people are supposed to forget and forgive any
rivalries and start new healthy relations with all. Children
Pune city, in
Holi for 6 days. Here, this holiday merges with
the festival of
Yaosang . Traditionally, the festival commences with
the burning of a thatched hut of hay and twigs. Young children go from
house to house to collect money, locally known as nakadeng (or
nakatheng), as gifts on the first two days. The youths at night
perform a group folk dance called
Thabal chongba on the full moon
night of Lamta (
Phalgun ), traditionally accompanied by folk songs and
rhythmic beats of the indigenous drum, but nowadays by modern bands
and fluorescent lamps . In
Krishna temples, devotees sing devotional
songs, perform dances and celebrate with aber (gulal) wearing
traditional white and yellow turbans. On the last day of the festival,
large processions are taken out to the main
Krishna temple near Imphal
where several cultural activities are held. In recent decades, Yaosang
, a type of Indian sport, has become common in many places of the
valley, where people of all ages come out to participate in a number
of sports that are somewhat altered for the holiday.
Holi is locally called Ukkuli in Konkani or Manjal Kuli in Malayalam
. It is celebrated around the Konkani temple called Gosripuram
Traditionally, in rural
Karnataka children collect money and wood in
the weeks prior to Holi, and on "Kamadahana" night all the wood is put
together and lit. The festival is celebrated for two days. People in
Karnataka prepare special food on this day. Holi
Andhra Pradesh .
In Sirsi , Karnataka,
Holi is celebrated with a unique folk dance
called "Bedara Vesha", which is performed during the nights beginning
five days before the actual festival day. The festival is celebrated
every alternate year in the town, which attracts a large number of
tourists from different parts of the India.
As in other parts of India, in rural
Telangana , children celebrate
kamuda and collect money, rice, Mokkajonna and wood for weeks prior to
Holi, and on Kamudha night all the wood is put together and set on
fire. Selfie of family celebrating
Tamil Hindus celebrate
Holi as it relates to the legend of
Holi is known by three names: Kamavilas, Kaman Pandigai and
Jammu & Kashmir
In Jammu ">
Punjab "> Preparing for
Holika Dahan, Kathamandu,
Holi, along with many other
Hindu festivals, is celebrated in Nepal
as a national festival. It is an important major Nepal-wide festival
Dashain and Tihar (
Dipawali ). It is celebrated in the
Nepali month of Phagun (same date as Indian Holi), and signifies the
legends of the
Hindu god Krishna. Newar Buddhists and others worship
Saraswati shrine in Vajrayogini temples and celebrate the festival
Hindu friends. Traditional concerts are held in most
cities in Nepal, including
Kathmandu , Narayangarh ,
Pokhara , Hetauda
, and Dharan , and are broadcast on television with various celebrity
People walk through their neighbourhoods to celebrate
exchanging colours and spraying coloured water on one another. A
popular activity is the throwing of water balloons at one another,
sometimes called lola (meaning water balloon). Many people mix bhang
in their drinks and food, as is also done during
Shivaratri . It is
believed that the combination of different colours at this festival
takes all sorrow away and makes life itself more colourful.
Over the years,
Holi has become an important festival in many regions
wherever Indian diaspora were either taken as indentured labourers
during colonial era , or where they emigrated on their own, and are
now present in large numbers such as in Africa, North America, Europe,
Latin America, and parts of Asia such as Fiji.
Festival in the United States.
Holi is a national holiday in
Suriname . It is called Phagwa
festival, and is celebrated to mark the beginning of spring and Hindu
mythology. In Suriname,
Holi Phagwa is a festival of colour. It is
customary to wear old white clothes on this day, be prepared to get
them dirty and join in the colour throwing excitement and party.
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Phagwa is normally celebrated in
Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago on the Sunday
closest to the actual date of Phagwah. It is celebrated with a lot of
colour and splendour, along with the singing on traditional Phagwah
Guyana Drummers of Indo-Caribbean
community celebrating Phagwah (Holi) in New York City, 2013
Phagwah is a national holiday in
Guyana , and peoples of all races
and religions participate in the celebrations. The main celebration
in Georgetown is held at the Mandir in Prashad Nagar.
Holi as festival of colours, folksongs and
dances. The folksongs sung in
Holi season are called phaag
gaaian. Phagan, also written as Phalgan, is the last month of the
Holi is celebrated at the end of Phagan.
the advent of spring and ripening of crops in Northern India. Not only
it is a season of romance and excitement, folk songs and dances, it is
also an occasion of playing with powder, perfumes and colours. Many of
Holi songs in
Fiji are around the theme of love-relationship
Radha and Krishna.
Mauritius comes close on the heels of Shivaratri. It
celebrates the beginning of spring, commemorating good harvests and
the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s
abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. It is considered one
of the most exhilarating religious holidays in existence. During this
event, participants hold a bonfire, throw coloured powder at each
other, and celebrate wildly.
Holi is celebrated by
Pakistani Hindus , in various cities in the
provinces of Punjab and
Sindh , such as
Karachi , Hazara ,
Sindh , Hyderabad ,
Lahore . Locals in Multan
Prahlada with the Prahlada-
Puri Temple .
Holi was not a public holiday in
Pakistan from 1947 to 2016. Holi
Diwali for Hindus, and Easter for Christians, was adopted
as public holiday resolution by Pakistan's parliament in 2016, giving
the local governments and public institutions the right to declare
Holi as a holiday and grant leave for its minority communities, for
the first time. This decision has been controversial, with some
Pakistanis welcoming the decision, while others criticising it, with
the concern that declaring
Holi a public holiday advertises a Hindu
festival to Pakistani children.
TRADITIONAL SOURCES OF COLOURS
Flowers of Dhak or
Palash are used to make traditional colours
The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to
cause viral fever and cold. The playful throwing of natural coloured
powders, called gulal has a medicinal significance: the colours are
traditionally made of
Kumkum , Haldi ,
Bilva , and other
medicinal herbs prescribed by Āyurvedic doctors.
Many colours are obtained by mixing primary colours. Artisans produce
and sell many of the colours from natural sources in dry powder form,
in weeks and months preceding Holi. Some of the traditional natural
plant based sources of colours are: Orange and red
The flowers of palash or tesu tree, also called the flame of the
forest, are typical source of bright red and deep orange colours.
Powdered fragrant red sandal wood, dried hibiscus flowers, madder
tree, radish and pomegranate are alternate sources and shades of red.
Mixing lime with turmeric powder creates an alternate source of orange
powder, as does boiling saffron (kesar) in water. Green
Mehendi and dried leaves of gulmohur tree offer a source of green
colour. In some areas, the leaves of spring crops and herbs have been
used as source of green pigment. Yellow Colours for
sale at a market in
Haldi (turmeric ) powder is the typical source of yellow colour.
Sometimes this is mixed with chickpeas, gram or other flour to get the
right shade. Bael fruit, amaltas, species of chrysanthemums, and
species of marigold are alternate sources of yellow. Blue
Indigo plant , Indian berries, species of grapes, blue hibiscus and
jacaranda flowers are traditional sources of blue colour for Holi.
Magenta and purple
Beetroot is the traditional source of magenta and purple colour.
Often these are directly boiled in water to prepare coloured water.
Dried tea leaves offer a source of brown coloured water. Certain
clays are alternate source of brown. Black
Species of grapes, fruits of amla (gooseberry) and vegetable carbon
(charcoal) offer gray to black colours.
A young man celebrating
Natural colours were used in the past to celebrate
Holi safely by
applying turmeric , sandalwood paste, extracts of flowers and leaves.
As the spring-blossoming trees that once supplied the colours used to
Holi have become more rare, chemically produced industrial
dyes have been used to take their place in almost all of urban India.
Due to the commercial availability of attractive pigments, slowly the
natural colours are replaced by synthetic colours. As a result, it has
caused mild to severe symptoms of skin irritation and inflammation.
Lack of control over the quality and content of these colours is a
problem, as they are frequently sold by vendors who do not know their
A 2007 study found that malachite green , a synthetic bluish-green
dye used in some colours during
Holi festival, was responsible for
severe eye irritation in Delhi, if eyes were not washed upon exposure.
Though the study found that the pigment did not penetrate through the
cornea, malachite green is of concern and needs further study.
Another 2009 study reports that some colours produced and sold in
India contain metal-based industrial dyes, causing an increase in skin
problems to some people in the days following Holi. These colours are
produced in India, particularly by small informal businesses, without
any quality checks and are sold freely in the market. The colours are
sold without labeling, and the consumer lacks information about the
source of the colours, their contents, and possible toxic effects. In
recent years, several nongovernmental organisations have started
campaigning for safe practices related to the use of colours. Some are
producing and marketing ranges of safer colours derived from natural
sources such as vegetables and flowers.
These reports have galvanised a number of groups into promoting more
natural celebrations of Holi. Development Alternatives, Delhi and
Kalpavriksh, – Kalpavriksh Environment Action Group, Pune, The
India campaign and Society for Child Development, through its
Avacayam Cooperative Campaign have launched campaigns to help
children learn to make their own colours for
Holi from safer, natural
ingredients. Meanwhile, some commercial companies such as the National
Botanical Research Institute have begun to market "herbal" dyes,
though these are substantially more expensive than the dangerous
alternatives. However, it may be noted that many parts of rural India
have always resorted to natural colours (and other parts of
festivities more than colours) due to availability.
In urban areas, some people wear nose mask and sun glasses to avoid
inhaling pigments and to prevent chemical exposure to eyes.
An alleged environmental issue related to the celebration of
Holika bonfire, which is believed to contribute to
deforestation. Activists estimate
Holika causes 30,000 bonfires every
year, with each one burning approximately 100 kilograms of wood. This
represents less than 0.0001% of 350 million tons of wood India
consumes every year, as one of the traditional fuels for cooking and
The use of heavy metal-based pigments during
Holi is also reported to
cause temporary wastewater pollution, with the water systems
recovering to pre-festival levels within 5 days.
In June 2015, hundreds of concert-goers in
Bali District , Taiwan
were severely injured in the
Formosa Fun Coast explosion , including
fifteen who died later in hospital, after three tons of corn starch
powder mixed with food colouring was sprayed onto the crowd at a high
velocity, causing a massive explosion.
The method of powder application at the concert created "an extremely
dense dust cloud over the stage and its immediate vicinity". People
near the stage were standing ankle deep in coloured corn starch powder
and the powder was suspended into the air using air blowers as well as
compressed gas canisters. Initial investigations into the explosion
showed the ignition of the suspended corn starch powder was likely
caused by a cigarette or spark. An Asia One report states that such
an explosion can occur, under certain conditions, not just with corn
starch but with powder form of any agricultural product such as
"powdered milk, soya flour, cornflour, rice dust, spice powders,
sugar, tapioca, cocoa powder, coconut shell dust, coffee dust, garlic
powder, grass dust, malted hops, lemon peel dust, oat flour, peanut
skins, tea and tobacco", and that "the crucial element is not the
composition of the powder itself, but whether it's deployed under high
pressure with a flame nearby."
According to Williamson, flammable powder or dust suspended in air in
high concentrations is explosive . Williamson notes that "dust cloud
explosions can only occur if the dust concentration is within certain
limits. In general the lowest concentration of dust that can give a
dust explosion is around 50-100 g/m3 and the maximum is 2-3 kg/m3.
These limits are dependent on the particular chemical in question. It
is usually easy to see if a cloud is explosible, as visibility through
a dust cloud - even at the lowest concentrations - is impaired."
Holi celebrations in India, Rinehart writes,
colours are exchanged in person by "tenderly applying coloured powder
to another person's cheek", or by spraying and dousing others with
buckets of coloured water.
INFLUENCE ON OTHER CULTURES
Holi celebrations in other cultures
New York City
New York City
The festival of
Holi is increasingly celebrated in many parts of the
world outside India.
Holi is celebrated as a social event in parts of the United States.
For example, at Sri Sri
Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork,
Holi Hai in
Manhattan , New York and
Festival of Colors: Holi
New York City
New York City , New York ,
Holi is celebrated as the Festival
of Color, where thousands of people gather from all over the United
States, play and mingle.
A number of Holi-inspired social events have also surfaced,
particularly in Europe and the United States, often organised by
companies as for-profit or charity events with paid admission, and
with varying scheduling that does not coincide with the actual Holi
festival. These have included Holi-inspired music festivals such as
Festival Of Colours Tour and
Holi One (which feature timed throws
Holi powder), and
5K run franchises such as
The Color Run , Holi
Run and Color Me Rad, in which participants are doused with the
powder at per-kilometre checkpoints.
There have been concerns that these events appropriate and trivialise
Holi for commercial gain—downplaying or completely
ignoring the cultural and spiritual roots of the celebration.
Organisers of these events have argued that the costs are to cover
various key aspects of their events, such as safe colour powders,
safety and security, and entertainment.
* Songkran (Thai festival)
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Further, the regional calendars feature two traditions of Amanta and
Purnimanta systems, wherein the similar sounding months refer to
different parts of a lunar cycle, thus further diversifying the
Hindu festival of
Holi falls on the first (full
moon) day of Chaitra lunar month's dark fortnight in the Purnimanta
system, while the same exact day for
Holi is expressed in Amanta
system as the lunar day of Phalguna Purnima. Both time measuring and
dating systems are equivalent ways of meaning the same thing, they
continue to be in use in different regions. In regions where the
local calendar places it in its Phalguna month,
Holi is also called
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concentration range". Archived from the original on 23 December 2004.
Retrieved 29 October 2006.
* ^ Rinehart, Robin (2004). Contemporary
Hinduism ritual, culture,
and practice. p. 137. ISBN 978-1-57607-905-8 .
* ^ http://global.unc.edu/event/holi-moli-unc/
* ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 November
2016. Retrieved 2016-11-23.
* ^ http://www.capetownmagazine.com/cape-town-holi-one
* ^ http://stanford.ashanet.org/holi/
* ^ http://www.phagwahparade.us/
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* ^ "NYC
Holi Hai 2016". NYC
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* ^ Spinelli, Lauren; Editors, Time Out (9 May 2015). "Check out
the multi-colored fun at this year\'s
Time Out New York .
New York City. Archived from the original on 14 May 2015. Retrieved 23
February 2016. Ker-pow! Just when you thought spring couldn't look any
more spectacular, Brooklyn hosted its annual
Festival of Colors
celebration at the Cultural Performing Arts Center (May 9). Partygoers
flung paint powder around with gleeful abandon while grooving the day
and night away, and as you'll see from our photos, this year's bash
was one of the most gloriously messy spring events in NYC.
* ^ Muncy, C.S. (4 May 2014). "PORTRAITS FROM HOLI NYC". The
Village Voice . New York City. Archived from the original on 1 August
2015. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
Holi Hai, also known as the Festival
of Colors, celebrates the coming of spring, the joy of friendship, and
equality for all. Held on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at the Yard @ C-PAC
(Cultural Performing Arts Center) in Brooklyn, thousands of
participants joined in to dance and generally cover each other in
colored powder. The powders used in
Holi represent happiness, love,
and the freedom to live vibrantly.
* ^ "Welcome to HOLI ONE".
Holi One. Birmingham, England. Retrieved
21 October 2016. Thousands of people, dressed in white, come together
to share in music, dance, performance art and visual stimulation. Holi
One brings this unforgettable experience to cities all around the
* ^ "Color Me Rad 5K Run". SanJose.com. Retrieved 6 March 2015.
* ^ A B "