Holi is an Indian festival celebrated to welcome Spring or Vasant ritu. It is celebrated with joy by young and old smearing colour on each other. Holi falls on the full Moon of Phalgun month (February-March). It is celebrated for two days, the first day is of ‘Holika Dahan’ (Holika bonfire) also called Choti Holi and the second day is when the play with dry colour and coloured water takes place, calledDhuleti, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan Dhuleti. In Mathura and Vrindavan, the celebration of Holi starts a week ahead and culminates on the actual day of Holi. It is a day when families and friends gather together to enjoy the happy and playful mood of Holi, eating the specialty of the day, like Gunjia, drinking Thandai and immersing in the festive mode. Holi translates the colours of Spring. It is that day of the year when old hatchets are buried and relationships are healed with the colour of Abeer /Gulal. Holi is also celebrated to thank for the rich harvest, especially by the farming community.
Holi festival symbolizes the victory of good over evil. This vibrant festival has now gone beyond the borders of India to countries like South Asia, Europe, North America, Malaysia, Guyana to name a few, where the Indian Diaspora celebrate Holi and the locals too join in.
Holi 2020 Dates and Tithi timing
Holi 2020, is going to be celebrated on March 10, Tuesday
Holika Dahan 2020, is on March 9, Monday
Purnima Tithi Begins – 03:03 AM on Mar 09, 2020
Purnima Tithi Ends – 11:17 PM on Mar 09, 2020
Holi Story in Brief
The Seventh Canto of Bhagavad Purana or Shrimad Bhagavatam narrates the story of the power hungry Asura or Demon King Hiranyakashyap who had been granted the boon of invincibility by Lord Brahma. When Hiranyapashyap’s wife was pregnant, the Gods had attacked the demon King’s palace. Narad Muni decided to save the King’s wife as she was not part of the sinful behavior of her husband. Spiritual talks and sermons of Narad Muni about Lord Vishnu was heard by Prahalada. After Prahalada was born and started to grow up, it became clear that He was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap who believed himself to be the supreme power, wanted Prahalada to stop worshipping Lord Vishnu and sing the praises of His own father. This, Prahalada refused to do. Multiple attempts was made by Hiranyakashyap to torture or kill Prahalada, which failed miserably as this devotee of Lord Vishu was always protected and saved.
At last, Hiranyakashyap appointed his sister, Holika, to kill Prahalada by burning Him. Holika had a boon of not being burnt by fire. She wore her magical protective cloak and tricked Prahalada to sit with her on a burning pyre, but this time the fire blew away her protective cloak and she burnt to death. Prahalada who was chanting Lord Vishnu’s name through this incidence, was saved by the Vishnu tattvas (cosmic elements of cold and goodness) resulting in failure of Hiranyakashyap’s cruel plan. Later Lord Vishnu, in His Narasimha Avatar finished Hiranyakashyap too.
Best Places to celebrate Holi
Holi is celebrated in various states/region of India in different styles. Some of the places have unique or traditional ways of celebrating Holi and are the best places to celebrate Holi.
1) Lathmar Holi of Barsana – The most famous uniquely traditional way of celebrating Holi is in the village of Barsana of Uttar Pradesh. Here the women beat up the men with Lathis (strong sticks) and the men try to desperately protect themselves with shields while provoking and teasing the women and get beaten up some more. Lathmar Holi surely lives upto its name. It is a sight to behold with everyone drenched in colour, the men smiling and laughing on getting beaten up by the women. Traditional songs about Radhaji and Shri Krishna are sung by the women throughout this feminist way of celebrating Holi, people even throw ‘Laddus’ at each other.
Lathmar Holi has a legend which is that Lord Krishna, in His youth, along with His group of friends went to Barsana from Nandgaon, where Kirshna used to reside and teased Radha and Her group of friends. This annoyed Radhaji and Her friends and they drove away Shri Krishna and His friends out of the village. So, following the tradition of the sweet story about Radha-Krishna, till date, the men from Nandgaon visit Barsana to play Holi with the women and once again recreate the scene.
2) The Matki Phor Holi of Mathura and Vrindavan – Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Here Holi celebrations start from the day of Vasant Panchami by worshipping Shri Krishna and ends on Holi. The tradition over here is to fill earthen pots with white butter (a favourite of Lord Krishna in childhood) and hang it really high. Boys and men make human pyramids, climbing on each other to reach the ‘matki’ (pot) and break it while the women throw colour on the men in an attempt to distract. Enactments of Rass-Leela are performed in temples and the Holi festival is celebrated over 16 days. Mathura, is the place where Lord Krishna spent His youth. A day prior to Holi, a procession from Vrindavan heads to Mathura starting at Vishram Ghat and culminates in Holi Ghat.
3) Basanta Utsav of Shantiniketan – Shantiniketan situated in West Bengal follows what Gurudev Rabundranath Tagore had set many years ago as a cultural event called Basanta Utsav which literally means celebration of Spring. Here the colour of culture is apparent every year, with the enthusiastic students of Shantiniketan dressed in Saffron colour, dancing to songs which are written and composed by Rabindranath (Rabindra sangeet). Post the cultural performances the students smear colour on each other and immerse in the festivities. West Bengal boasts of this beautiful cultural tradition of Basant Utsav.
4) Punjab style Holla Mohalla – Holi in Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, is one of its kind. The style followed here is much like that of a warrior clan and is about proving one’s strength. The people gather together and shout at the top of their voice, martial arts skills are displayed, post which playing with colour takes place.
5) Royal Holi of Udaipur – Say Rajasthan and you think of Royalty. The Holi of Udaipur does justice to it. On the eve of Holi the bonfires of Holika Dahan are lit in various places of this beautiful city. The royal Mewar family organizes the traditional procession with handsomely decorated Horses and the royal band playing which starts from the royal residence and proceeds to Manek Chowk of City Palace. The parade also include Elephants painted with lovely coloured designs and decorated beautifully. The Elephant festival is also on the same day which comprises of the Elephant Polo match, Elephant dance performances and a tug of war with men and woman on one side and an Elephant on the other side. These are some of the things to enjoy on Holi at Udaipur.
Jaipur too celebrates Holi, in a similar manner as Udaipur, where the streets see the parade of colourfully painted Elephants, traditional folk dance performances, beauty contest of Elephants and many such cultural events.
6) Yaoshang festival of Manipur – In Manipur because of the Vaishnav culture Holi is celebrated with fervor. Holi is celebrated as Yaoshang festival in Manipur which starts six days prior to Holi. The festivity begins with the traditional burning of hay and twigs followed by the folk dance Thabal Chongba. The beautiful night of full Moon is filled with the sound of drum rhythms, folk songs and dance. The Raasaganga Holi Utsav is a something to witness in this region, which have people playing with Gulal by the light of bonfires and lamps, wearing the traditional white and yellow turbans. On the day of Holi, the final day, crowds go in a procession to the Krishna temple where cultural programmes are held.
7) Holi in Hampi – In the South of India, Holi is not celebrated as a major festival. Hampi in the Vijayanagar Kingdom of Karnataka have the people playing Holi in the ruins of Hampi with music and drum beats and later wash off the colour in the river.
Other places like Goa celebrates Holi in Konkani style, Ahmedabad is well known for its Dahi- Handi on holi and Delhi, where Holi is all about parties, gorging on special food, sweets, drinking Thandai, music, cheer and colour.