Holi Celebration in India 2020 – Essential Guide on Holi
Holi celebration is a Hindu festival, which is celebrated to remember the victory of Good over Bad. The day is celebrated as the day of death of demon Holika by Lord Vishnu. This is one of the famous festivals of the land, which is also called the festival of colors.
The most significant element of this festival is the battle of colors during which, the people splash color powder and water at each other to express joy.
10 March 2020, Holi Celebration in India
Holi Celebration 2020
Apart from celebrating the end of demon Holika, this festival is also celebrated as a remembrance of Lord Krishna’s childhood antics. While growing up, Lord Krishna and his friends played pranks on the girls of the village by drenching them in the colored water.
In certain parts, Holi is celebrated as a spring festival. This festival is thanks giving celebration to enjoy the harvest’s abundant bounty.
When is Holi Celebrated?
In 2020, Holi celebration starts on March 9th , 2020 and ends on March 10th , 2020. The festival is celebrated on the day after the full moon, which falls in March. In West Bengal, Odisha, and others, the festival is celebrated on the day of full moon. In some areas, the festival stretches for one week and ends on the Holi.
Read more: 10 Places to Celebrate Holi in India
History of Holi
According to historians, the festival was initially celebrated by Aryans. It is believed that the festival was a part of the culture even during BC. However, the meaning and style of celebration have changed a lot.
In the past, the festival was celebrated by married women for the welfare of her spouse. The festival is celebrated on the full moon day.
The earliest inscription about Holi festival belongs to a stone art of 300 BC. This inscription mentions about Holikotsav festival. Ratnavali of 7th century also has details about a color festival. Many Islamic writers have also mentioned about Holi, showing that Holi was also celebrated by Islamic communities.
16th-century sculptures in Hampi temple of Karnataka shows scenes of people celebrating the festival of color. You can find numerous such inscriptions and paintings about Holi during medieval times.
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Significance of Holi
Cultural and religious significance
The main aim of Holi is to celebrate the victory of good over bad. Each community and state has a different story with the same moral line. Most commonly, people celebrate Holi as the death of demon Holika by Lord Vishnu. Apart from these numerous other stories and folklore are associated with this.
This festival denotes that people should believe in being truthful and good. In today’s societal structure, this is a very important lesson to impart to the younger generation. Another cultural significance of Holi is the harvest. This festival is celebrated right after the harvest. People celebrate Holi as a symbol of their prosperity and wealth from the harvest. It also indicates merry making after making a profit from the harvest.
Indian society is riddled with the caste system. Holi is one of the few festivals, which brings people of different castes together. This festival is celebrated by other religions too, due to the aesthetic factor that attracts youngsters. Holi is seen as a festival to increase the feeling of brotherhood.
Biological or scientific significance
Holi is celebrated in March, right before the summer season. Indian summers are very harsh and scorching. In the past, people used a liquid dye of natural components, which would penetrate the skin and increase the ions. This helps to combat dehydration.
Holi is also celebrated on the day, when the magnetic flow of the earth makes humans lazier. Playing with colors, singing and dancing would increase the spirit and rejuvenate the body.
The bonfire is said to burn at 145 degrees F. When people dance around the fire, the warmth would help to reduce the effect of bacteria in the body. People apply a paste of sandalwood and mango flowers on their forehead. This is said to promote health.
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How to Celebrate Holi?
People celebrate the day with rituals in the morning and then, the rest of the day is all about the color fight. People throw color powders and water over each other. Every single person would look like a vibrant collage with yellow, red, and green color. Some even buy white dresses for Holi to get dirty on Holi.
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The Story behind the Holi of Colors
According to a poem of 4th century, Holi is a welcome celebration of spring season. The festival is celebrated in March, which is the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring. There are also indications that the festival is harvest thanksgiving merrymaking.
The story of throwing colors at each other rooted in the history of Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna threw colors at Radha, his love interest. There are many reasons quoted for this act.
According to one story, Lord Krishna was worried that Radha was too fair than him. Thus, his mother gave him an idea of smearing her with dark colors.
According to other stories, this was his way of expressing his love and joy to her. Some say that he pranked the women by drenching them with water. However, today, the spraying of color came from the tradition started by Lord Krishna.
The southern part of the country celebrates the day as the day of love – the day when Lord of Love was reborn from ashes. Lord Shiva went into deep meditation and thus, the demigods called up the cupid (God of Love, Kamadev) to wake Shiva. He threw his love arrow at Lord Shiva, which ended up ruining his meditation. In that rage, he burnt Kamadev (the bonfire ritual of Holi festival). Kamadev’s wife, demigods and others prayed to Lord Shiva to bring back God of Love. When he was born back from ashes, the world celebrated it with colors.
The most common story of Holi is linked with Holika and Prahalath.
Story of Holika
King Hiranyakashyap was a cruel king who gained several boons as a result of his meditation. He declared himself as the real God and restricted his subjects to only pray and chant his name.
However, his son was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and he spread the religion of Lord Vishnu to the subjects.
After several days of persuading his son to join his side, king lost his patience and asked his demon sister, Holika to kill his son. Holika has the power to stay unaffected by the fire.
Thus, Holika took her nephew on her laps and set herself on fire. However, the demon burnt into ashes while Prahalath walked out of the pyre without a scratch.
Thus, during the eve of Holi, people light up fire to remember that good always wins. People celebrate around the fire to celebrate the triumph of God.
Holi Pooja Process
The celebrations start on the eve of Holi when people burn a large bonfire and conduct cultural performances. Many temples conduct special rituals and activities from early in the morning, on the day of Holi.
After rituals, people celebrate color fights on the premises of the temples or in other public areas. After the color fights, some communities wash down the colors in a river or lake in the locality.
Later, they make delicacies at home and share it with their neighbors and friends.
Processes of Holika Dahan
Some communities start the process of bonfire preparing as early as 40 days from the day of Holi.
- The logs have to be placed in position for the pyre on Vasant Panchami day
- Apart from logs, people also place twigs, branches, dried leaves and others.
- On the eve of the festival, an effigy of Holika holding Prahalath is placed on the pyre. The effigy of Holika is made with materials that would burn in fire and Prahalath’s effigy is usually made with metal or any material that stays unaffected by fire.
- As people chant the rakshoghna mantra (a chant from Rig Veda) and a religiously significant person would lit the bonfire. They dance around the fire until it burns down.
- The ash from the bonfire is shared as Holi Prasad and is smeared all over the body. Smearing the ash is considered as a purification act.
In some communities, women start the bonfire and it is said that the ritual would ensure the health and prosperity of the spouse.
Rituals of Holi
Several day prior to the festival, people start gathering wood to a pit, where the bonfire will be conducted on the Eve of Holi. This bonfire festival is called Holika Dahan. This pyre represents the fire that killed Demon Holika, leaving Prahalath unharmed.
After lighting the bonfire, special rituals take place. Later, people dance and sing around it. People walk around the fire, three times, as a part of the rituals. In some areas, especially Saras Village, the locals walk on red-hot charcoal. This is considered as a sacred activity among pilgrims.
On the day of Holi, people pray and serve delicacies to the deity before running off to play with colors.
Unusual Holi Traditions across India
1. Dulandi Holi
In Haryana, brother’s wife beat her brother-in-law with a stick, while the men run around trying to dodge the hit. In the evening, the men bring sweets to console the women.
2. Lathmaar Holi
This festival is celebrated in Barsana. This is quite similar to Dulandi, where women beat men with stick. As revenge, men drench women with orange-red dye on the next day.
This is the iconic celebration of Maharashtra. This local variant is called Shimgo or Shimga. This style of celebration is common among fishermen, during which people make peculiar sounds with their mouth and dance.
4. Basanta Utsav
This is a traditional spring festival of West Bengal, which was initiated by Rabindranath Tagore. People dance and sing to welcome the spring season. The best of all celebrations take place in Shantiniketan.
5. Dol Purnima
A few communities of West Bengal celebrate the day as swing festival. During this festival, idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are placed on a wooden swing and people take turns to swing it as they sing traditional songs. A large procession takes place with the idols on a palanquin. While women dance and sing, men throw color powders at each other.
5. Hola Mohalla
People call it the masculine version of Holi, celebrated in Punjab. During this festival of Sikh community, people display physical strength. Many competitions like bareback horse riding, tent pegging, standing erect on horses and other daredevil acts will be conducted. Religious sites will conduct lectures. You can find mock wars, poetry competition about the valor of ancient kings, and so on. The best of all is the large procession, which takes place from TakthKeshgarh Sahib and ends at the same place, after covering four other important religious sites.
6. Kaman Pandigai
People of southern India do not celebrate Holi like the Northern parts. In Tamil Nadu, the day is celebrated as Kaman Pandigai, which celebrates the rebirth of Kamadev, the God of Love.
Some communities in Tamil Nadu celebrate the day by singing sad song expressing the sorrow of wife of Kamadev, when she learnt about his death. People also smear sandalwood on the deity of Kamadev to reduce the burning caused by the third-eye of Lord Shiva.
7. Fire walking
In the Falen Village, closer to Mathura, local priests are seen as the reincarnation of Prahalath. They go into deep meditation for weeks together leading to the Holi festival. On the eve of the festival they walk on raging fire and perform rituals. The similar ritual also takes place in a village in Surat.
Where is Holi Celebrated in India?
Holi is celebrated throughout the country in numerous manners and for various reasons.
1. The traditional style of Holi is celebrated in Mathura, Vrindavan, and other areas with more significance in the history of Lord Krishna.
2. Barsana and Nandgaon celebrate it as Lathmar Holi
3. Shantiniketan celebrates a cultural style of the festival
4. Purulia of West Bengal celebrates a folk festival during Holi
5. Punjab celebrates the festival with war stories and martial performances
6. In Rajasthan, Udaipur and Jaipur cities celebrate Holi with bliss
7. Some people celebrate Holi in Dharavi, along with slum children
8. Delhi is a land with cultural diversity as people of all regions have settled down here. Thus, you can find a diverse style of celebration. Along with these, you can also enjoy music festival.
9. If you are in Southern India, the areas that celebrate Holi are quite few. The best of all is Hampi, where religious rituals, color fight and other Holi celebrations take place.
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Holi Special Dishes
a) Bhang drink – A cannabis infused drink, Most commonly, bhang is mixed with buttermilk
b) Gujiya – Sweet stuffed dumpling with coconut, poppy seeds, dry fruits, and others.
c) Ras Malai – Sweet balls made with cream and dough, soaked in creamy liquid spiked with fresh cardamom, and saffron.
d) Malpua – Sweet crepe made with coconut, banana, flour, and milk. It is then soaked in sugar syrup.
e) Kesari Malai Peda – Small cream balls flavored with cardamom and saffron
f) Puran Poli – A butter drenched flatbread is prepared and sweet stuffing is added and cooked in ghee.
g) Mattar Kheer – Rice and green pea pudding served warm with a topping of raisins and pistachios.
What to Expect During the Celebrations?
Be ready to be drenched with water and color. People will greet you and shower you with colors. You can find numerous delicacies which are specially prepared for the occasion. Many restaurants serve traditional cuisine with these delicacies during this festival. If you are visiting areas where traditional celebrations take place, you can take part in rituals.
Tips for Celebrating Holi Festival in India
- Check out the local park areas or celebration arena for color fights. Many colonies have their own private celebrations.
- Always wear the dress you hate the most on Holi. It is destined to get destroyed during the celebration.
- Before you walk out, apply generous amount of coconut oil throughout your body and hair. This helps to remove the colors from the body, with ease.
- Wear caps and sunglasses to protect your eyes and hair from colors.
- If you are planning to take pictures of Holi celebration, bring waterproof camera. People splash color waters at everyone, even strangers on the road.
- Some remote areas have interesting celebrations. However, solo female travelers are recommended to stay with top areas and iconic sites where it is crowded.
- Your skin can stay pink or green for weeks from the celebration. You’re your departure trip accordingly so that you will not have any trouble during airport security checks.
Holi Related Festivals
This is an 18-days festival celebrated in Rajasthan for Gauri, wife of Lord Shiva. The festival starts with sowing barley and wheat seeds in the ashes of Holi festival. After a week from Holi, women create clay deities of Gauri and Shiva. A parade is conducted by maidens on the seventh day from Holi.
This is similar to the Holi Festival celebrated in West Bengal, as the day when Lord Krishna proposed his love to Radha. The Dol Purnima festival (Swing festival) is also celebrated.
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