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HOLI - FESTIVAL OF COLORS 

   

HOLI is the Festival of Colors. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Phalugn (Phalgun Purnima) which falls in early March every year. 

The celebrations last for 2 days. The night before Holi is called Holika. The day of Holi is called "Dhuleti". Holi also heralds the arrival of spring and is also known as the Spring festival in India. It celebrates the season of hope and new beginnings and marks the re-kindling of the spirit of life according to the Bhagvad Gita. 

Did you know that Holi is celbrated in India, Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad, the UK and Nepal. 

The main day of Holi is called Rangapanchami, Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated by people throwing colored powder and colored water at each other. Bonfires are lit the day before Holi, also known as Holika Dahan (death of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). 

Holika purnima is also called Hutasani. It is the celebration of the arrival of Spring - the season of hope and new beginnings and marks the re-kindling of the spirit of life  according to the Bhagvad Gita. 

Holi is also a day to celebrate with friends and neighbors. People perform havan and offer the new grains that are harvested to the gods. The history of the origin of Holi goes back to Hindu mythology when Lord Krishna killed the demon "Madhu" in ancient Braj or modern Mathura in U.P. Although the festival is based on mythology, it now signifies the coming of spring. 

The festivities begins on the night of the full moon. Bonfires are lit on street corners to cleanse the air of evil spirits and bad vibes, and to symbolize the destruction of the wicked "Holika", for whom the festival was named. 

On "Dhuleti" the following morning, the are streets filled with people dancing, splashing and throwing  colored powder and spraying colored water with "pitchkaris" or water guns and even dousing each other with buckets of water. Kids love this festival as they have fun with water ballons, gulal and pitchkaris. 

 "Gulal" is the name of the red colored powder used during the festival of Holi. Holi powders come in a range of colors from orange, yellow, green, purple, blue to even metallic. 

"Pitchkari" or water gun filled with colored water to spray and soak your friends with.

The best part of Holi is to catch someone unawares, one can get away with almost anything on this day.  Kids especially like throwing water filled balloons at each other from atop buildings. For the teenagers its a great day to spend flirting.  Friends and neighbors go out in groups enjoying together. After an exhaustive morning, in the afternoon, the craziness comes to an end and everyone heads home to clean up and enjoy the holi sweets and savories. 

Here is a lovely video about getting painted at the Holi Festival in India - BBC

"Rang Barse" The Bollywood song from the 1981 movie Silsila, that embodies the spirit of holi - starring Amitabh Bachan and the sexy sultry Rekha. 

 

Homes are thrown open to visitors to feast on the season's first crop of sweet mangoes.  There are many special sweets prepared on the occasion of Holi. "- condensed milk confections, and a variety of savory party foods like "samosas", "pakoras", kebabs and stuffed breads like "Puran Poli", "Gur poli", and "Sakharpoli" are eaten in Western India. 

They render the taste of just harvested jaggery or sugar. In northern India, "Gujias" made with khoya and nut stuffing and sugar "Batashas" are shared by the community. In the South, different kinds of sweet rice preparations are served and different varieties of fruit mixtures are offered to visitors. Also served in the South are cold beverages called sherbets. They also eat food laced with "bhang", an aphrodisiac that leaves one feeling light, happy, and reckless. 

Holi's crazy drink!!!

Bhaang : is a preparation from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the female cannabis plant. It is consumed either in a special beverage called Thandai or smoked. It causes a high and enhances intimacy. Bhang lassi is a special lassi that contains bhang and is made especially during Holi. Pakoras are also sometimes laced with bhaang. 

On "No Reservations" celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain visited a "Govt Authorized" Bhang Shop in Jaisalmer Fort, Rajasthan. The owner offered him three varieties of the drink: "normally strong, super duper sexy strong, and full power 24 hour, no toilet, no shower."



The Mythology behind Holi

"The Hoilika Story"

The story centers around an arrogant king Hiranyakashyapu who resents his son Prahlada for worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time. Finally, the king's sister Holika who is said to be immune to burning, sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlada emerges unscathed, while his aunt burns to death. Holi commemorates this event from mythology where good triumphs evil. Huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation. 

"Krishna"

The history of the origin of Holi goes back to Hindu mythology when Lord Krishna killed the demon "Madhu" in ancient Braj or modern Mathura in U.P. Therefore, Lord Krishna who was from Nandagaon and Radha who was from the small town of Barsana are worshiped on this auspicious day.  

Holi, especially in Mathura & Vrindavan is spread over 16 days  - the two cities with which Lord Krishna shared a deep affiliation. Apart from the usual fun with colored powder and water, Holi is marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of abandoned vitality. It is celebrated with special joy and zest at Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon, and Barsnar.

Regional Celebrations

Each Indian region celebrates Holi differently.

Uttar Pradhesh , Mathura  or known as Braj in  the olden days is Lord Krishna's birth place. Holi is also called  Braj ki Holi. With week long celebrations, the temples here celebrate Holi with pomp. 

The Bhil tribesmen of western Madhya Pradesh, who've retained many of their pre-Hindu customs, celebrate holi in a unique way. 

In rural Maharashtra State, where the festival is known as "Rangapanchami" it is celebrated with dancing and singing and the making of the Indian sweet "Puran Poli". 

In Bengal, Holi is called Dol Yatra. The word "dol" literally means a swing and "yatra" means a procession..  Idols of Lord Krishna and Radha are placed in a little swing-cradle and decorated with flowers and painted with colored powders.  Devotees dance around the swing and also take turns to swing the cradle while chanting the name of Sri Krishna and singing  Holi-songs relating to the frolics of little Krishna with the Gopis. Men spray colored water and powder called abheer.

In the towns of Rajasthan especially Jaisalmer the music's great, and clouds of pink, green, and turquoise powder fill the air. The grounds of Jaisalmer's Mandir Palace are turned into chaos, with dances, folk songs, and colored-powder confusion. 

In the Punjab, a sect of Sikh community observes Hola Mohalla a day after the Holi and stages mock battles with ancient weapons.

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