One of the major festivals of India and easily the most colourful, Holi is celebrated with a lot of enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which falls is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar.
Holi festival is celebrated under different names and people in different states might follow different traditions but what really marks its uniqueness is its spirit that is the same throughout not just the country but even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.
The whole country wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration. Markets are abuzz with activity as a multitude of shoppers start making elaborate preparations for the festival. One can see literal heaps of various colours of gulal and abeer on the roadside days before the actual festival. The water pistols or Pichkaris are always hotly anticipated in view of their innovative and modern design that come up every year towards drenching everybody in their vicinty.
The cooks and chefs too are quite busy cooking the favoured dishes of gujiya, mathri and papri for the revellers. Some places even prepare a special dish of papads and potato chips.
Everybody is in a festive mood as the season itself in delightful. Holi is also called the Spring Festival – as it marks the start of Spring which is well known to be the season of hope and joy. The dreary winter is over and the arrival of Holi marks the advent of bright sunny days. Nature too seems to rejoices at the arrival of Holi and consequently farmers fields are lush with crops promising a good harvest along with the multicoloured flowers in full bloom that dots the landscape.
A Hindu festival, Holi has various legends associated with it. The most famous is the legend of the demon King Hiranyakashyap who forced everybody in his kingdom to worship him as a God but his pious son, Prahlad subsequently becomes an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap then decides to get his son executed and asks his sister Holika to enter a raging fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a divine boon that made her immune to fire. The Story goes that Prahlad emerged unscathed from the fire while Holika was burnt to ashes due to the celestial intervention.
Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival thus celebrating the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of eternal devotion to god.
Play of Colors
The next day the excitement is easily gauged on the streets when its actually the time for the play of colours. Shops and offices remain closed for the day and people have time off to celebrate fully. Bright colours fill the air and people take turns in pouring coloured water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colours on one another with their water pistols or pichkaris and throwing water balloons at passers by. Holi parties are a much anticipated fare and the neighbourhoods resound with the sound of bollywood songs, the traditional dholak and of course the mouthwatering Holi delicacies alongwith an assortmnet of alocoholic and non alcoholic beverages including Bhang.