Most people know of Holi, also known as the festival of colour. It’s most commonly celebrated in India and Nepal by Hindus but is becoming popular around the globe. The origins of Holi are easier to trace back and is reputed to have started in celebration of a man named Prahlada and his devotion to the God Vishnu. Prahlada’s father was a very unsavory character named Hiranyakashipu, who was almost immortal and grew arrogant, demanding that all worship him instead of the Gods. Prahlada disobeyed his father and continued praying to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu discouraged his son’s behavior by poisoning him, having him trampled by elephants and putting him in a room with venomous snakes – all to no avail; Prahlada remained unharmed and devoted to his God.
In a last ditch attempt to kill his son, Hiranyakashipu ordered Prahlada to sit on the burning lap of his aunt and Hiranuyakashipu’s sister, Holika. Holika, like her brother, had a resistance to death in that she could not be burned by fire. Prahlada prayed for safety from Lord Vishnu and was granted it; Holika’s magic did not work and she was burned to death while Prahlada was again left unscathed. Holi is a celebration of good prevailing over evil, and it comes from Holika’s name. It is also a celebration to welcome spring.
Throughout practicing countries the festival will often start with the burning of Pyres, meant to represent the burning of Holika and the victory of Prahlada, before it turns into a free for all colour fight. Participants wear white as they spray coloured powder on friends, family and everyone who passes by. The festival has recently been criticized in recent years due to health concerns, mainly in that the dyes that are used can often contain dangerous chemicals like lead oxide, copper sulphate and even asbestos.
The official celebration of Holi will be held on Wednesday, March 27th, throughout India and Nepal, but if you’re not in those neck of the woods and still want to partake in the madness, then check out Holi One; the group that organizes colour fights in cities ranging from Johannesburg to Munich (using environmentally friendly, non-toxic powder).
When: March 27th 2013
Where: Throughout India and Nepal
For other international dates, check out the Holi One Official Website.
- The HOLI ONE colour festival is almost here… (loveaffaircapetown.com)