The Holi Festival or the Festival of Colours has a tradition of over 1,000 years in India (and Nepal). Holi is a happy and cheerful time because the cold of winter is no more and the warming tones of spring are in the air. Nature is responding with new growth and colour. People embrace the warmth and throw coloured powders at each other as if they are throwing their worries to the wind. There is (organic) colour everywhere – red, green, yellow, blue, black and silver.
People sing and dance their way through Holi, throwing the colours that also represent the flowers and growth of spring.
A more traditional explanation in India is that the Holi festival celebrates the love of Radha and Krishna. The spraying of coloured powders recalls the love sport of Lord Krishna and His devotees.
In 2017, the Holi festival is on most places on the 13th of March. It is usually a two-day celebration. The first day is known as “Holika Dahan” or “Chhoti Holi” and the second as “Rangwali Holi,” “Dhuleti,” “Dhulandi” or “Dhulivandan.”
As with some other Indian traditions, the Holi festival has a cultural dimension. It is the festive day to end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as deal anew with those in their lives. It is like the start of the new year. Holi is a time to start anew.
So, what happens in the tradition? Holi celebrations begin the morning after the “Holika” bonfire. The “Holika” bonfire represents the victory of good over evil. For many people, there is no tradition of holding puja (prayer), and the day is for partying and pure enjoyment. Children and young people form groups armed with dry colours, coloured solution in water guns and water balloons filled with coloured water, and other creative means to colour their targets. In some places, there is respect for visitors, but do not be alarmed if join in the festival, but be warned, even though the colours wash out, it is best to wear older clothes. You will leave India with amazing memories and colourful photographs.
So why not join the Indians in celebrating this amazing event. There a several places to join in, but in North India, one for the best is in the state of Rajasthan where the celebrations are passionate, happy and inclusive.