Holi is the festival of colours. It is a festival of gaiety and grandeur. It brings joy and relaxation to young and old, rich and poor alike, It falls on the full moon day of the month of Phalgun every year by the Hindu calendar and id the month of March, according to the English Calendar.
There are several reasons behind its celebration. The popular one is that Prahalad, son of Hiranya Kashyap – a demon king, was a very good devotee of God. Whereas, the father was an enemy of God and believed in his own power. The demon king tried his best to teach Prahalad hatred towards God. But Prahalad never deviated from his path. The king tried in vain to kill his own son by biting him with serpents, by crushing him under the feet of elephants, by throwing him from high hills and by roasting him in boiling oil. Each time he was saved by the grace of Lord Vishnu whom Prahalad believed with mind, soul and body.
The king, being vexed in his attempts to kill his enemy’s devotee, consulted his sister Holika. She was gifted with the boon that fire could not burn her. Getting orders from the king she sat in the fire with Prahalad. But Prahalad survived and Holika got burned to ashes. This was happened on the full moon day of phalgun. To commemorate the occasion of the burning of evil forces this festival is celebrated with jubilation and joy.
According to another legend, Lord Shiva was involved in severe penance on the top of Himalayan Mountains. Kamdeva along with Rati, the God couple of sex and love-tried to induce passion and desire in the heart of Lord Shiva. But Lord Shiva who was dis- turbed from penance opened his third eye and burned Kamdeva into ashes on the full moon day of Phalgun month. But Lord Shiva was merciful enough to revive him to life because of the prayers of Rati. To celebrate this occasion Holi is performed. It is also performed as Kamdeva festival in some parts of the South.
Prior to celebration of the festival, people collect in different mohallahs heaps of wood, logs, dung cakes etc. On the day of festival women perform worship in the houses and Holi is burnt in the night, according to ritualistic procedure.
The jubilating and joyful part of the festival is celebrated on the next day morning when people sprinkle coloured waters made out of flower and roots in earlier times. This is now changed to water which is chemically coloured. Young children and youth join in this playful sprinkling of coloured water. The elderly people apply gulal to each other’s forehead and embrace each other. After that, they enjoy the plays of youth and young.
Dances, songs, sprinkling of coloured water on each other in a gay mood are the main attractions of this festival.
In this festival, old enmities are buried and people start developing friendly relations. People of all classes and castes and creeds join this festival with an open heart of love and affection. The Holi play continues till mid-noon. They take bath, eat festive food in the houses and come in the evening for Holi Milan. Then they sprinkle dry colours on each other. Friends and relatives embrace each other exchanging Holi greetings. Exchange of sweets, fruits and good wishes are usually done on this festival.
It is one of the finest festivals where gaiety, colours, love and joy pour forth from the bottom of human heart without grudge or grumbling from rich and poor, old and young and men and women alike.