Holi-Festival of Colours

Holi is one of the major festival of India, commonly known as the festival of colours. It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of phalgun with great zeal and enthusiasm. However, various legends and hindu mythological stories are associated with the celebration. One such story is the burning of Holika which is related to the episode of vishnu’s incarnation i.e Narasimha, the half-human, half-lion form who killed the king Hiranyakashipu and restored peace and unity in the kingdom. The arrogant king demanded the people only to worship him and made them believe that he is the supreme soul of all.  But, Hiranyakashipu’s son, Prahlad was a great devotee of lord Vishnu and kept reciting Vishnu’s name in his prayers, all throughout. This raised Hiranyakashipu’s anger towards him and he finally plotted a plan to execute his own son. According to the plan, Hiranyakashipu made his sister, Holika, who was then blessed with a boon of overcoming the heat of fire, to make Prahlad sit on her lap surrounded by the blazing fire. Slowly the fire spreaded and took over Holika, but Prahlad was saved by Lord Vishnu and the boon failed to protect Holika. Thus, Holika was burnt down to ashes. Marking this event, on the eve of holi, people light bonfires, symbolic of Holika on the previous night of holi to celebrate the victory of good over evil.

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There are many other mythological stories associated with the celebration of Holi, other than the episode of Hiranyakashipu.

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Holi, being a festival of colours is played by children, adults, men, women and all class of people. The festival is another way of showering love and brotherhood among the community. To name a few, in places such as Vrindaban, Gokul, Barsana in Mathura region, Barpeta in Assam and Bolpur in Kolkata holi is celebrated in a traditional way which mostly includes playing of instruments and singing of holi songs. People from all class of society takes part in the celebration.

The celebration of holi in these places has also attracted a lot of foreign tourists, movie and documentary makers who come to witness the grand celebration. As reference, celebration of holi also appears in ancient texts, literature and as visuals in miniature paintings.