With the festival of Holi fast approaching on Wednesday 23rd March 2016, it’s time to take a look at what the festival of Holi is, what why it is celebrated and how long the tradition has been running for.
What is Holi?
Holi is known as the Festival of Colour and is celebrated to welcome the arrival of spring. It usually takes place in March over a two-day period. It is a celebration of love, life, colour and good defeating evil.
What happens on Holi?
There are two parts to the festival of Holi.
The first is Holika Dahan. This happens the night before Rangwali Holi. Paying homage to the religious scriptures in which the Hindu God Vishnu helps burn the Devil Holika, wood and Dung-cakes are burned to signify good defeating evil.
During Rangwali Holi, people through coloured powders and water on each other. This is mainly done in India and Nepal.
What are the origins of the festival?
According to the BBC, Holi is the celebration of the Hindu God Krishna, the Devil Holika and Prince Prahlad. Some religious scholars believe the origins of Holi lie with the Hindu God Krishna. He was known as a mischievous young boy who threw coloured water at the milkmaids.
Bonfires are also lit at Holi to commemorate the story of Prince Prahlad which represents good overcoming evil. The story of Prahlad is seen to symbolise good overcoming evil and is why traditionally bonfires are lit at Holi. The story states that Prince Prahlad’s father, the king wanted everybody to worship him. However, Prahlad refused and decided to worship Lord Vishnu instead. Holika, the king’s sister, who was immune to fire, tricked Prahlad in sitting on her lap so he would be destroyed. However, because her powers were used for evil, Prahlad emerged unharmed, and she was submerged in flames.
Research Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/religion/hinduism/holi.shtml.
Why is Holi celebrated?
Holi is a time when family, friends, and the Hindu community come together to dance, share meals, celebrate life and love and throw colour. According to The Independent, it is said that caste and ethnicity are put aside at this time; however, this is widely debated.
From a religious standpoint, the festival is celebrated to burn the devil Holika. However, according to an urban legend it is also seen to commemorate the story of Radha and Krishna. Krishna and Radha were lovers, however, Krishna was self-conscious of their differing skin colours. So he decided to playfully paint Radha’s face to make it the same colour as his. According to tradition, lovers repeat this ritual annually on Holi.
Holi in Maidenhead
The Hindu Society of Maidenhead host 12 religious events per year, including Holi. Join the society this Holi for a day of celebration, religious activities and food.
Find more information at: http://www.hindusocietyofmaidenhead.co.uk.