Are those people completely covered in brightly colored pigments? Is literally everything covered in brightly colored pigments? It just might be Holi!
Holi is a spring festival celebrated mainly in India, Nepal, and other areas with significant Hindu populations. The festival is a beautiful celebration of color, love, and springtime. It begins with the Holika bonfire the night before, which is celebrated with singing and dancing.
The legend of the bonfire involves an evil demon, named Holika, who tried to trick her nephew into burning alive on a pyre. Through some divine intervention, the nephew was saved, and Holika was burned. The story signifies the triumph of good over evil. Holi also involves the love story of Krishna, a god, and Radha, a beautiful girl. Krishna was worried that Radha wouldn”t love him because of his dark blue skin color, so his mother suggested he turn Radha”s face to any color he wanted. He playfully turned her face different colors, and they became a couple.
Holi has been celebrated for centuries. This image of Radha and her girlfriends celebrating Holi dates to 1788. It shows them flinging handfuls of colored powder at one another.
Holi, in practice, is as fun a celebration as it is beautiful. People gather in public spaces and run around, chase each other, and dance while throwing handfuls of colored dry powder and dyed water at one another.
Holi powders in bright colors can be found for sale at various shops across the country. People throw handfuls of it at each other. They also use it to paint their faces and bodies. Traditionally, these powders were made with herbs and natural ingredients, though today many of them are synthetic. All colors are used during Holi.
By the end of it, everyone is covered head to toe in rainbow hues.
People from all walks of life are involved, and it”s common for complete strangers to get involved in a color fight. Everyone and anyone on the street is fair game!
After getting covered in colors all day, people then go home, clean up, and visit friends and family. Other practices and traditions will vary from region to region. Holi festivals usually include music and drumming, as well as special Holi treats. One of those treats is Bhang, a drink made with cannabis leaves.
A successful Holi celebration.
Aside from being a lot of fun, Holi holds a lot of symbolism. It”s celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalgun, which typically falls in March. Holi is mostly a celebration of spring, celebrating the fresh colors of the season. For many, it”s seen as the start of the new year. Like many new year celebrations, it”s also a holiday about renewal, and sees many people working to repair relationships, resolve problems of the past year, and rid themselves of negative emotional baggage.
Today, Holi is celebrated in much the same way, only its popularity has also grown to include non-Hindus. Everyone likes color!
Holi is celebrated by people of the Indian diaspora in places like Europe and North America, as well as non-Indian and non-Hindu people in more secularized festivals. Some people are critical of the more secular adaptations of Holi, saying that they aren”t properly respectful to the religious and cultural aspects of the holiday. So if you”re thinking of participating, remember to do so respectfully.