Various beliefs and traditions originating from ancient times keep their existence in various parts of the world with festivals or similar events. Especially ancient beliefs that are related to seasonal cycles host colourful and interesting ceremonies. Celebrated in Hindu traditions, Holi Festival is also known as one of the most spectacular celebrations of the world. To be held on 09-10 March in India this year, the first day of the festival will honour the victory of good over evil, and the beginning of spring will be celebrated enthusiastically on the second day.
Beginning of spring is very important especially in communities that are engaged in agriculture and livestock. Because, mother nature emerges from hibernation, the trees blossom and animals give birth in the spring… Therefore, following a winter full of challenges, spring is the symbol of abundance, joy and happiness. Many events are organized across the world to celebrate spring which symbolizes awakening and revival of nature. These events attract attention not only for ancient rituals but also colourful and exciting celebrations. As one of the prominent celebrations among these traditional practices, the colourful Holi Festival is often scene to crazy moments.
Salvation of the little prince from his cruel father
Holi Festival in India starts on the first full moon of spring and is actually based on a myth. It’s named after Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu:
Hiranyakashipu, god of evil, is awarded with immortality by the “Hindu God Brahma”. Growing arrogant over time, Hiranyakashipu wants everyone to obey him. However, his son Prahlada rejects to obey him. Even though Hiranyakashipu tries to kill his son Prahlada several times, another God, Vishnu, saves Prahlada. The angry god Hiranyakashipu decides to kill Prahlada with the help of his sister Holika, who is immune to fire. A fire is set, and Holika makes Prahlada sit in the fire. But Prahlada survives, while Holika burns. Then Hindu God, Vishnu, kills Hiranyakashyapu and gives the throne to his son.
Burning of Holika
A bonfire is set on the first night of festival. A puppet of Holika is placed on the pyre, and pyre is burnt after the sunset. Ritual symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. People gather around the fire, sing and dance. This ritual is called “Burning of Holika” or “Little Holi”.
Rain of colours
The second and last day of festival is called the “Day of Colours”. Markets and streets are filled with different colours days before. It is possible to see many colours such as red, yellow, purple, green and blue on the streets on these days. Colours not only give people energy but also prepare them for the festival. During the festival, ochres are sold in the markets, but some people produce colours from plants called tesu and palash. While people get together and throw colour powders at each other, they may also be exposed to a barrage of colours dropped from the upper floors of houses in the celebration area. The myth about this colourful part of the festival is briefly as follows:
Indian God Lord Krishna is jealous of his friend Radha, because he has dark skin whereas Radha’s skin is colourful. Little Krishna complains to his mother Yashoda about the injustice of nature. His mother offers Krishna to colour his face just like Radha’s to please him. Krishna accepts the offer willingly and colours his face. Then this game gains popularity and turns into a festival over time.
Holi is not celebrated in India only
Holi is not a festival that is celebrated in India only. It is held in more than 50 countries. Indians living in the USA, Canada or Australia also celebrate Holi. Festivals are also organized in the large cities of Germany. Holi Festival has been celebrated also in Turkey for the last few years, especially in big cities such as Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir.
Holi Festival is also honoured as a day when the caste system disappears. Because all people including the rich, poor, noble, women and men gather on the streets covered with colours. It is reckoned that this interesting festival will become more popular in the upcoming years.
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