Also known as the “Festival of Colors”, Holi perhaps ranks among the biggest festivals of India. Holi is celebrated all over the country and mostly marked as the opening festival in the Hindu calendar. It is held on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun according to the Hindu calendar. The festival is mostly held in the month of March and is the greatest spring festival of Hindu community.
Holi in India is celebrated to mark the annihilation and burning of various evil forces like Holika, Holaka and Putana who used to trouble the villagers. There is also a social significance in the festival as it marks the time of good harvests and fertility of the land. The festival’s main emphasis is the lighting of Holi. This burning ritual takes place on the day before the main festival. The pyre which is made of wood and branches of trees is lit. Fire crackers are also tied to the pyre.
The second day, popularly known as Dhulheti, is celebrated with widespread enjoyment and fanfare. People enjoy themselves by throwing colored powder and water at each other all over the day. In historical times, colored powders made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi Bilva and herbal recipes were considered to have a medicinal effect on the diseases like viral fever and cold which were prevalent during the spring season. A special drink called thandai is prepared which also contains a local intoxicant known as bhang.
Holi is celebrated in almost all parts of India. It is known as Dol Purnima as well. Some states where Holi is celebrated with immense fanfare are Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, West Bengal, Gujarat and Manipur. People irrespective of age take part in the Holi celebrations in these places.
In some of the places in the country, especially in North India, people celebrate Holi by distributing gifts and sweets to their family members, friends and relatives and exchanging greetings. Popular gifts for Holi are box of sweets and Gujjias. Clothes like white crisp cotton salwar-suit for women and kurta-pyjama for men are also gifted. Other gifts that are popular include a packet of bright-colored flowers, home decoration items, baskets and bouquets.
What happens on Holi?
Holi being one of the most important festivals in India, is celebrated with much fervor and gait. Primarily being the festival of colors, Holi has incredible vibrancy and a wonderful exhibition of diverse hues. Although tradition various slightly from place to place, the most common practice to celebrate Holi is putting colors on each other. This color is either in the form of dry powdered form called ‘Gulal” or can be water colors which are prepared by mixing them with water.
Children are especially enthusiastic during Holi and find their own ways to play and enjoy. Throwing water balloons at each other as well as putting water on each other with water guns called “Pichkaris” is especially popular with them. At some places bhang (a concocted mix of cannabis with water, used as an intoxicant) is also taken as a part of celebration.
In a typical tradition relatives and family members get together and enjoy sweets, especially Gujiya, malpuas, dahi badas, mathri, puran poli which are specifically prepared for the festival. Songs, dance and Music and drum beats are part of numerous festivities of Holi within India and around the world.
What is Holi powder made of?
Holi powder, called the “Gulal” in all local languages, is a custom made color preparation, using a variety of ingredients and which is extensively used as a part of the festival celebrations. The contents of the Holi powder have changed overtime. While in olden days gulal color was extracted from natural elements like flower petals, vegetable and plant sources, nowadays artificial sources like chemicals are increasingly used as an alternate.
Truly India on its HOLI Tours uses only Herbal Gulaal, made with natural ingredients.
Where is Holi Celebrated?
Principally a Hindu Festival, Holi is one of the chief festivals for Hindus throughout India and over the world. However, due to its universal appeal and its message of love, tolerance and universal brotherhood, Holi is is celebrated all over India with equal spirit and enthusiasm.
As a result for many, Holi has come as an occasion for a joyful get together and a welcome break from the usual chores of life. Across the world people mix with resident Hindus to celebrate, feast and revel the festivities as well as learn about numerous Indian traditions. Many people also light the Hoil bonfire called Holika Dahan to commemorate the victory of good over evil and celebrate with smearing color over one another.
Some famous places to celebrate holi are Mathura, Agra, Jaipur, Udaipur, Hola Mohalla (Punjab).
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