By: Lara Palmer
The festival of colors known as Holi takes place early March during the Hindu month of Phalguna. It is celebrated throughout India and Nepal and many other countries around the world, including the United States. It is put on throughout the world by people wishing to celebrate and honor their heritage. This celebration of spring and love goes on for two days. The festival is one of laughter and joy. It is seen as a way to let go of problems and worries and to just have fun with loved ones.
There are many different stories about this festival’s origins, and Ms. Schoen was asked what she knew of it. She said, “The legend behind Holi is rooted in the victory of good over evil. There are two stories that I have learned about. The first is about a powerful king who was hated by everyone including his son. His son, Prahlada, refused to worship him and worshiped Vishnu instead. The king tried to kill his son on a number of occasions but failed. The king then gets Prahlada’s aunt to kill him by burning him alive, because she had special powers. She lost her powers because of her bad intentions, and he gained immunity.” After some more research into the story, it was found out that Prahlada’s aunt was named Holika, and she was burned on the pyre instead of Prahlada. It is said that the story is where Holi derives its name. The festival is a two-day event, the night before is the Holika Dahan, meaning the “Burning of Holika.” The people build a bonfire in the center of town and burn it to remember the salvation of Prahlad and the destruction of Holika.
The second and final day of the Holi celebrations is the festival full of colors. People enjoy the day by throwing multi-colored powers at their family and friends. They also splash each other with paint or water. Many eat gujiya, a sweet and crispy pastry, or drink lassi, a yogurt-based drink popular in Northern India.
Another common myth explaining the colorful festival is that of Radha and Krishna. It is said that Lord Krishna was cursed to have blue skin when he was young. He was complaining to his mother one day that Radha would never like him because of this and how he wished he could look like her. His mother, Yashoda, playfully suggested he smear color onto Radha so she could look similar and understand how Krishna felt. Lord Krishna, known for being mischievous, snuck up on Radha and splashed the colors all over her. Other herding girls around saw this happen, they proceeded to follow suit and cover each other in paints. Today, this event is seen as an origin of why people throw colorful powders and dyes at each other and their loved ones.
The festival of Holi is still widely celebrated each year by the Hindu people and their friends and family. These two days are regarded as joyful and highly waited for all year long.