It is said imitation is the highest form of flattery, and if that is the case Hindus should feel honoured indeed. Holi Festival – observed by throwing brightly pigmented powder paint – has been replicated all over the globe in various incarnations from coloured ‘fun runs’ to themed music festivals. It’s a phenomenon that has swept the globe, but the best place to celebrate it is still where it all began – in India.
What is Holi Festival?
Holi Festival is usually in March each year and is a celebration of the coming spring; it’s a chance to banish the winter blues and welcome the bloom of the new season. For some it is a time of religious observance but for many it is a time for fun. The festivities start in the evening with bonfires, dancing and singing. The next day everyone is out on the streets throwing coloured water and colourful powdered paint called gulal as part of mass festivities. It is a celebration that transcends gender, age, caste and background.
In the days preceding the festival, markets are flooded with a multitude of vibrant hues as people stock up in preparation. Piles of bright violet, red, green, pink and blue powder are everywhere. On the day itself, it is no holds barred. Everyone is in high spirits and it is a time for dance, drinks, food, songs… and colour!
A little History…
Holi Festival is an ancient Hindu celebration that has been around for hundreds of years. It falls on the day after the full moon in the month of Phalguna, the 12th month of Hindu calendar. Phalguna corresponds to February/March in the Gregorian calendar, so Holi Festival always falls at around this time each year.
It is believed to be the celebration of various legends and mythology in Hinduism. The most commonly associated legend is that of the devil king Hiranyakashyap whose prince son Prahlad refuses to worship him and instead worships Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap punishes his son and finally tries to trick him by having his sister Holika sit on a burning pyre with him to which she is immune because of a magic shawl. However, as she is using her power for evil the protection is transferred to Prahled and his aunty is engulfed in the flames. In parts of India, effigies of Holika are burned on the bonfires as part of the festivities.
How to visit Holi Festival?
Holi Festival is celebrated throughout India on these dates:
Dates for 2014: Monday 17th March
Dates for 2015: Friday 6th March
Dates for 2016: Wednesday 23rd March
The following group tours coincide with 2014 Holi Festival dates:
Colours of India, March 01-March 22
Enlightened India, March 10- March 22
India in Depth, March 15-April 5
Wonders of India and Nepal, March 15-April 12
Rajasthan Explored, March 15-March 30
About the Author: Rebecca is Digital Marketing Manager for Tucan Travel. She has travelled independently and on group tours through South America, Africa, Asia, Middle East and Europe. You can find her on Google+ or read her other contributions here.