Holi is being celebrated across India today, 21 March, 2019. Unlike Christmas which is celebrated on 25th December every year, the date on which Holi is celebrated changes. This is because we celebrate Holi on the last full moon day in the month of Phalguna as per the Hindu Calendar, which is usually end of February to end March. There are some interesting traditions from different parts of India that lend some colour to the celebration of Holi! First of all, it is a celebration of the forces of Good over those of Evil.
What is Holika Dahan?
A night before Holi, family and friends get together to make a big bonfire out of wood and they light it up. They then go around the fire, sing songs and dance.
In Indian mythology, once upon a time, there was a demon-king called Hiranyakashipu. He was angry with his son Prahlad, who refused to worship his father as God. The King was so incensed, he wanted to kill his own son, and he asked his sister Holika to help him. He told Holika to sit in a burning bonfire with Prahlad on her lap. She would not get harmed because a special cloak would protect her. When Holika sat with Prahlad in the fire, a huge gust of wind came and the cloak blew off her and covered the boy instead. Holika was burnt to ashes, and the pure Prahlad was saved! This was the victory of Good over Evil and till date, we celebrate Holika Dahan for that very reason.
What does it mean to ‘play Holi’?
On Holi everyone gets dirty happily, be it adults or children! We smear colours on our loved ones, run after friends with our pichkaris and water balloons or simply overturn buckets of coloured water on each other. That is how most of us play Holi!
However, in the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon located near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, a few days prior to Holi, women and men come together to play Lathmar Holi. During this celebration, women playfully hit the men with sticks and the men protect themselves with shields. This tradition is linked to our folklore when Lord Krishna (from Nandgaon village) visited Radha (from Barsana village) and teased her, Radha’s friends chased him away with sticks!
Written by: Preetika Soni. Preetika is a full – time toddler mommy. In the time that is left, she enjoys writing, photography and crochet. She has worked with NDTV, Mumbai and has taught at SCMSophia.