When is Phagwah, or when is Holi?
Holi, otherwise known as Phagwah or festival of color, is celebrated during the three days spanning the period of the full moon in March. Celebrations take place primarily on the day of the full moon, however, the lighting of bonfires begins the day before, and celebrations often spill into the day following the full moon.
What does Holi celebrate?
Holi is the Festival of Color. Celebrated widely, Holi is a three-day festival symbolizing the beginning of spring. Holi is mentioned as far back as the seventh century, where the festival is described in many Sanskrit texts and alluded to in the play “Ratnavali.”
Phagwah is the other name of this holiday. In South India, it is called Bhojpuri. This holiday symbolizes the victory of good over demonic forces, the victory of light over darkness. All India is drowned in the paint because of Indian celebration with colored powder. That’s the answer why is Holi called the festival of colours.
Story behind Holi festival in India
What does Holi mean? Holi is steeped in mythological history, based on the story of Prahlad, son of Hiranyakashypu. Hiranyakashypu was a demon king, bent on seeking revenge for the death of his brother, who was killed by Lord Vishnu. One day, Hiranyakashypu asked the Lord Brahma to make it so that neither man nor beast could kill him, neither indoors nor outdoors, not during the day and not during the night, and on the earth or in the sky. Lord Brahma granted the request, but soon, Hiranyakashypu thought himself invincible and ordered all his people to worship only him. However, Prahlad, Hiranyakashypu’s son, was an ardent follower of Vishnu. He disobeyed the order and continued to worship Lord Vishnu.
This was more than Hiranyakashypu could bear, and so he made every attempt to kill Prahlad. All attempts failed and in desperation, Hiranyakashypu called upon his sister, Holika, who was immune to fire for assistance. Knowing this, Hiranyakashypu asked Holika to sit in a blazing fire while holding onto Prahlad. Lord Vishnu intervened though, and Holika perished in the flames while Prahlad emerged unscathed.
Eventually, Prahlad’s devotion to Vishnu sent Hiranyakashypu into a fury and he questioned: “if Lord Vishnu is everywhere why isn’t he in this pillar?” At that Vishnu emerged from the pillar as Narasimha (half man, half lion) at twilight, dragged him into the courtroom (which was neither indoors or out), and killed him while he was on his lap.
Today, Holi celebrates new beginnings and the triumph of good over greed, hatred, lust, and selfishness.
Where is Holi celebrated?
Holi is primarily celebrated in northern India, although some celebrations are also seen in the south.
The people in southern India celebrate a slightly different festival around the same time. The celebration also marks new beginnings and is associated with spring, but the focus of the celebration is on the God of love, Kama.
How is Holi celebrated in India?
- Focusing on color and new beginnings, Holi is celebrated with flowers, ribbons and colorful robes.
- On the eve of Holi, bonfires are lit to symbolize the burning of Holika and the triumph of good over evil.
- Celebrants walk around the bonfire seven times in order to gain the approval of Lord Agni, God of Fire. Farmers believe that they must sacrifice their first harvest to Agni as part of the celebrations of Holi. In doing so, they will enjoy great success with future harvests.
- After the burning fire dies down, the ashes are collected, as it is believed that they can be used to ward off evil.
Celebrations are accompanied by singing, dancing, and general merriment.
- A further tradition involves children throwing Gulal, vibrant colored powder, over each other as a display of fun and abandonment of rules.
- Thabal Chongba is a popular folk dance performed during Holi. As thabal means “moonlight” and chongba means “dance” this dance primarily occurs at night in the light of the burning bonfire.
- Thandai, a drink made from almonds and milk, is enjoyed during Holi.
Did you know that…
…within each district, a pot of buttermilk is suspended above the street? Whichever man manages to break the pot is crowned Holi king for the upcoming year.
What is Holi festival must-know?
- Phalgun: The month of March in the Hindu calendar
- Hola Mohalla: Name was given to Holi within the Sikh community
- Agni: God of Fire
- Gulal: Bright colored powder scattered around during Holi
- Thandai: A drink of almond and milk consumed during Holi.