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Holi - Indian Festival of Colors

Holi Hai……….!!!!!

This deafening cry of the general public resonates in the air during this festival which catapults one's naughtiness to a more sublime level. Holi is an important festival of the Hindus. It is a festival of joy. It gives us the message of friendship and goodwill. On this occasion we forget our old quarrels and mix with all freely. At least for one day we forget social distinctions completely. There is no difference between the rich and the poor. Holi gives us great joy. It is a happy occasion when we forget our cares and anxieties.

The word "Holi" is derived from "Holika", the evil sister of demon King Hiranyakashipu. The legend says that King Hiranyakashipuwho had earned a boon from Lord Brahma was bestowed with special powers that blinded him with pride and vanity. The King grew arrogant thus projecting himself as God. His son, Prahlada disagreed to this and remained devoted to Lord Vishnu. An infuriated Hiranyakashipu then subjected his son Prahlada to an array of severe punishments, before finally summoning his evil sister to trick him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika had powers in her cloak that made her immune to injury from fire. As the fire roared into a giant pyre, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada, thus protecting him. Holika thus turned to ashes and Prahlada survived. Lord Vishnu then appeared in form of Narsimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire, lit by all a night before Holi, is thus a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil.

Holi Festival is widely celebrated in India, Nepal and other places with Hindu population. In recent times, this festival has also gained acceptance among non-Hindus as a spring festival of love and colors. The Holi celebrations begin on the last day of Phalgun. People collect sticks and straws lying in streets at a place. At night they gather at that place and set fire to the huge pile of sticks and straws. They sing songs to the accompaniment of drums. They are mad with joy. They break up when the fire fades out.

The main celebration follows the next day. People are in a happy mood. They sprinkle colored water on one another. They smear their faces with colored powders. Children spray colored water on the passes-by. Well renowned for a fun filled environment, Holi is one of the best occasions to experience India during one of its happiest moments. Even the old people are mad with joy. All people are in a jolly mood. They forget social distinctions. They mix with all freely. In our villages people move about with colored water. They sing, dance, and jump about. They beat drums and sing loudly in a chorus. In the evening they visit their friends and neighbors. However, one should not rush into this hilarious festival of colors which is also famous for its craziness; it is advised that some homework be done beforehand which would definitely prove to be helpful.

Holi is an important festival which is observed across India, offering a variety of activities held during its celebration. The Holi festive fever in North India, especially in the Golden Triangle Tourist Circuit (Delhi, Jaipur, Agra) is more vivid and jubilant than that in southern part of India, which is quite solemn and more focused on religion and temple rituals. Here are some popular spots for taking part in Holi and each with their own distinct charm.

Holi festival has different connotations in different parts within the country. Barsana (district Mathura) has a very special type of Holi called Lathmaar Holi, wherein men with shields are beaten up by women with sticks, as part of festival celebration. Based upon a legend, Lord Krishna once paid a visit to his paramour Radha, and while he tried to lovingly tease her and her friends, was driven away by the women folk, hence the tradition prevails.

Delhi celebrates Holi in a modern and contemporary way, and hosts the Holi Cow Festival. This festival highlights folk music accentuated with traditional multi-colored powder throwing, live music performed by Indian musicians, and sheer madness. Non-toxic colors are provided along with street food, drinks, etc. to get everyone in the mood to rejoice.

Jaipur is the place to reckon with for Holi celebrations. One can mingle with the locals and try their hand at turban tying competition, or test their resilience in a tug of war match. An interesting event is where one joins and participates in the Matka (water-filled pot balance on head) race to emerge as a winner by reaching the finish line first without dropping the earthen pot. It's definitely a moment to burst your lungs out by cheering for your team mate.

Those who wish to witness some traditional Holi must visit Mathura and Vrindavan. Mathura and Vrindavan are closely associated with Lord Krishna's birth and bringing up. Holi here is considered a major festival and carries great religious significance. People celebrate it for a period of 40 days. Each day, the celebration takes place in a different temple of Lord Krishna. In Braj region of India, where Krishna grew up, Holi is celebrated for 16 days to commemorate the divine love of Radha for Lord Krishna. There is a symbolic myth behind commemorating Lord Krishna as well. Baby Krishna transitioned into his characteristic dark blue skin color because a demoness named Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. Those who wish to experience the crazy atmosphere of Holi, the local streets offer the best sight and festive feel. Those opting for a more subtle way, there are hotels or private clubs where Holi parties are specially arranged for guests. Single travelers should avoid going out into streets on their own as the ambience is a little high on spirits, which might not be appreciated by all.

On 24th March 2016, Holi will again be an occasion to shower unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and, of course, lots of bright colors!

Truly a great festival, Holi allows you to feel the thrill in the air and a palate of colors to immerse yourself in….!!