Holi is a festival of colours. It is also called the festival of love, brotherhood and unity, as it brings people together regardless of caste or religion. The festival of Holi is celebrated with utmost enthusiasm and gaiety especially in North India. In some places in India, Holi is celebrated for five days as well.
There is a legend associated with the celebration of Holi. It is said that a cruel king named Hiranyakashyap was blessed by Brahma that no human or animal could kill him inside or outside the house, on the ground or in the sky. But he was a tyrannical king and wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him as a god, but his own son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and was not ready to accept anyone else as a god. Hiranyakashyap’s sister Holika had the boon of not burning in fire. So he ordered his sister Holika to take Prahlad in her lap and sit in the bonfire. It is said that on the day of this heinous act, Holika sat on a pile of burning wood with Prahlad in her lap, but instead of Prahlad getting burnt, Lord Vishnu saved him and Holika was burnt to ashes. Then Lord Vishnu appeared there in the form of half-lion and half-human and killed Hiranyakashyap by tearing his stomach open on his lap. Therefore, the celebration of Holi is also considered a symbol of the victory of good over evil.
Remembering the incident of Prahlad and Holika, in the evening a day before Holi, this ritual is performed as a symbol of the burning of evil forces by lighting a wooden bonfire, which is called ‘Holika Dahan’. People gather around Holika to praise the Lord and seek his blessings.
Holi - Colorful Day of India
The day after Holika Dahan is probably the most colorful day in India. People start playing with colors from early morning with their friends and family. They sprinkle colored water on each other. Kids run around spraying colors using water guns. Even the elders become children on this day. They apply abeer and gulal on each other’s faces. People sing and dance on this day, some people drink a special drink made of ‘Bhang’ on this day.
After playing with colors for the whole day people go to meet their friends and other family members wearing clean clothes after taking bath etc in the evening. People of all ages eat Gujiya, a special delicacy of Holi, with great gusto.
Holi festival in Mathura and Vrindavan
Mathura is the place where Lord Krishna was born and Vrindavan is the place where he grew up as a child. Lord Krishna was dark in complexion, but his spiritual friend Radha was of pride. That’s why Balkrishna always used to complain about this injustice of nature to his mother Yashoda. One day Yashoda suggested to Shri Krishna to paint Radha as per her wish in the form of a game. After which Krishna used to go to Barsana (Radha’s village) from his Nandgaon to paint Radha and other gopis. The gopis also used to beat him with sticks. You can see this same act of Shri Krishna applying color to Radha and other gopis in mythological paintings and other devotional figures. The tradition of Holi developed because of this loving mischief. Holi of Mathura has special significance, because Krishna was born in Mathura itself.
In short, Holi spreads love and brotherhood. It brings harmony and happiness to the country. Holi signifies the victory of good over evil. This colorful festival unites people and removes all kinds of negativity from life.