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History of Holi – The Festival of colors

The traditional Hindu festival named Holi is celebrated in spring. Holi is celebrated to commemorate the triumph of good over evil. It is a 2 day celebration of love fertility and color.

Holi is said to be one of the major festival of India and is the most vibrant one of all.

This festival is the most fun one as well, hence even though it has originated in India and is widely celebrated as a religious festival in the country, it has also been adapted in many places and music festivals around the world.

This festival is split in two day and two events that is – HolikaDhan and Rangwali Holi

Holika dhan Online

HolikaDhan is performed the night before Rangwali Holi. According to Hindu mythology Lord Vishnu helped burn Holika to death who was a devil. Holika dhan is celebrated to signify the victory of good over evil. A born fire is made with wood and dung cakes and then everyone prays in front of this fire.

Festival of Color Shopping

The next morning people take part in rangwali holi, not only this lively and colorful celebration of Holi is associated with deities and legends it is also know for the traditional dance, loud music and of course forceful scrubbing of bright colors like gulal and abeer while chasing our relatives and friends around. And then there are pichkaris (Long syringes you can throw fountain of water from) and water balloons available to throw on people. You can also mix the above mentioned color in water and then fill balloons out of this water and throw on people.

Traditionally you only use to get a few colors but now of course a wide range of color are available. By the time this day ends you are covered in different colors all over.

I know sound really yucky and fun at the same time.

This year believe me gather your friends and family at someone’s backyard buy some organic colors and celebrate this festival of colors, loud music and fun.

History of Holi

Holi is a very old festival with social ceremonies. It has been specified by the great Indian writer Kalidasa in Puranas, Charita and Dasakumara in the middle of 4th century during the rule of Chandragupta II.

This festival also has mentions in Sanskrit show Ratnavali in seventh century.

This festival caught attention of British pilgrims and European dealers in the seventeenth century and was also given a mention in the British Oxford dictionary and was spelt phonetically like – Houly, Huli, hohlee and then finally HOLI in the 1910 version which was printed.

What is gulal?

Holi Festival Shopping

The legend narrates that Lord Krishna use to complain to his mother about his skin color being dark compared to that of his companion named Radha. Lord Krishna’s mother did not like that her son feels he looks darker than Radha so as a result she went and smeared color on her face.

This is the reason why today Holi is celebrated by throwing colors on people.

Traditionally gulal was made of paste of flowers and plant extracts and turmeric. Today synthetic versions of this gulal is widely available and is made of corn-starch blended with drug, food and cosmetic grade colors.

These pigments are know as FD&C colors are the same ones which are added in candy to bring out the rainbow colors.

Abeer?

Abeer is made of small chips of mica which look like crystals of paper. Abeer is mixed with gulal to give it a rich shine.

The four main colors that are used in Holi are Red, Yellow, Blue, and Green.

Each color symbolises something which is as follows

Red – Symbolises Love and fertility

Blue – It is the color of Lord Krishna

Yellow – The color of turmeric

Green – Symbolises spring and new beginning

Traditional sources of Color.

Holi Festival  2021

Orange and red

The blossoms of tesu or palash tree also called the fire of backwoods is a brilliant option to get the hues of orange and red. Dried hibiscus flower, powdered and fragrant red shoe wood, radish, pomegranate and mardar flowers are also a great substitute for this color.

Mixing turmeric powder with lime gives a nice orange color and so does saffron when boiled in water.

Blue

This color is derived from flowers like blue hibiscus and blooms of jacaranda. We can also get this color from Indigo plant, types of grapes and Indian berries.

Green

Dried leaves of gulmohar tree mixed with mehendi make a nice green color. Some people also use to use spring leaves, herbs and yield to make a lush green colour.

Yellow

Turmeric is the primary source of this color. It may be mixed with gram, chickpea or other flours to get the right color needed. Flowers like marigold and chrysanthemums and yields of bael were also used in the making of this color.

Brown

When dried tea leaves are mixed with water, they give us the brown color, certain type of mud also is and abundant source of this color.

Purple / Magenta

Beetroot is an abundant source of magenta and purple. When beetroot is boiled in water the water automatically turns into purple and is useful in Holi celebration.

Black.

We get this color from different types of grapes and Gooseberry (Amla). We can also use vegetable carbon (charcoal) to get hues of this color.

When is Holi celebrated?

The dates of each Holi celebration varies every year because it is synchronised with the moon.

In 2021 this festival will be celebrated on 28th& 29th of March.

Why is Holi celebrated?

King Hiranayakashipu

According to Bhagwat Gita, King Hiranayakashipu – the king of Asuras a demonic region who could not be killed by an animal or human, or killed by using a weapon nor could he be killed at night or day.

Because of this he thought he was immortal and could not be killed at all, he became arrogant and demanded everybody to worship him as god.

But the king’s son Prahlada was a Lord Vishnu devotee. He refused to worship his father which made the king furious. He started giving his son cruel punishments. Finally Holika who was the king’s sister tricked Prahlada in siting in the fire with her. A cloak was suppose to protect Holika and Prahlada was suppose to remain exposed. But as the fire blazed the cloak flew from Holika body and protected Prahlada, thus protecting him and burning Holika in the process.

Holi Festival of Color

Later Lord Vishnu appeared in the avatar of Narsimha (half man half lion) and killed the king at twilight which is not day or night using his sharp finger nails and tearing the king’s stomach apart.

This is the reason why Holi begins with a born fire which symbolises the end of evil.

According to another legend Lord Krishna had developed blue skin color after a demon named Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. Lord Krishna felt inferior and worried that his companion Radha would not like him. He told his mother about his worries and his mother went and painted Radha’s face with multiple colors of course Lord Krishna followed as well and playfully colored Radha’s face.

This playful coloring with loved one, friends and family eventually evolved as a tradition and later observed as a festival in multiple regions of India.

Tips for an enjoyable and safe Holi

Holi Shopping Online
  • Do not wear anything which cannot be thrown later. Believe me every piece of your clothing will be ruined and filled with color.
  • Try wearing full sleeves top and full pants as well, so that u have very little skin exposed
  • Buy cheap sunglasses and wear it to protect your eyes from color and because they are cheap you would not even mind throwing them away.
  • Before you step out to enjoy this beautiful festivals of color make sure you apply a generous amount of coconut oil on every part of your body and hair. Because you will realize soon after the fun ends how annoying it is to get those colors off your body and if one of your friends have got a synthetic color then god save you as it is very difficult to take those out.
  • Apply nail polish on all 20 fingers, even though it is just a transparent coat. This rule goes for men as well. Nails absorb the color pigments when the color is in your hand for applying on others and while washing your hands. This color cannot be washed off easily and you have to wait for your nails to grow out. So instead just apply a double or three coats of transparent nail polish to protect your nails from absorbing the color.
  • Make sure you take off all your valuables and watches and jewellery or they will also be soaked in multi color.
  • Please play Holi carefully and amongst known people, as because of all the water around the floor might get slippery and someone can get injured as well
  • Please decide on a meeting place with your friends in the ground in case you get separated or lost.

Even though cleaning up after Holi is not fun and you will see color coming out of each crevasse of your body for days, all your clothes will be ruined and drenched in different colors and you will definitely have to toss them in the garbage bin, your skin might feel a little itchy at times due to the chemicals in the color but the whole experience will be totally worth it.

Do try playing Holi this year with your friends and family and let me know how your experience was.

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Comments

Emma - March 19, 2021

Hey guys, as I’m born and brought up in the US. I always have a curiosity about Indian culture and festivals. And I was looking for detailed information about Holi and I came across your blog. Now I came to know the history of holi. God bless you guys and love from the USA.

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