Holi, the festival of colours is just round the corner and people are seen making all kinds of arrangements just to see that the festival goes off well and doesn’t end up on a sour note. But before we get into more of preparation, let’s see what is this festival like and from where did this originate?
Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus as well in many parts of South Asia as well as people of other communities outside Asia. In addition to India and Nepal, the festival is celebrated by the diaspora of the Indian subcontinent in countries like Jamaica, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Mauritius and Fiji. In recent years, the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic and colours.
The festival also celebrates the beginning of a good spring harvest season. It lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Calendar in the Hindu calendar month of Phalguna, which falls around middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan (burning of demon holika) or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Phagwah.
Holi is popularly known as the Indian ‘festival of spring’, the ‘festival of colours’ or the festival of love”. The festival signifies the arrival of spring, the end of winter, the blossoming of love and for many, it is a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive and repair broken relationships.
The celebration of Holi start on the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan where people gather, perform religious rituals in front of a bonfire and pray that their internal evil be destroyed the way Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was killed in the fire. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi – a free-for-all festival of colours where people smear each other with colours and drench each other. Water guns and water-filled balloons are also used to play and colour each other. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw coloured powders on each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks.
But this year, there is a cache. Authorities have, through a warning, have asked people not to touch China made colours, pichkaris, balloons and other articles that people handle while playing with colours. All this is because of the Novel Coronavirus that has killed thousands all around the World.
So, be cautious and play Holi safely.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)