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Holi

From Academic Kids

Holi is an annual Hindu spring festival. It takes place over two days around late March or early April on a Purnima (or Pooranmashi) Full Moon as per the Hindu calendar. On first day, a bonfire is lit at night to signify the burning of Holika. On the second day, known as Dhulandi, people go around until afternoon throwing colours at each other and meet and have fun. A special drink called 'thandai' or bhang (Cannabis sativa) is also consumed sometimes, which actually contains small amounts of marijuana to make the festival more enjoyable. People invite each other to their houses for feasts and celebrations later in evenings. Rangapanchami happens a few days later on a Panchmi (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colours. A few years back (late 1980s) until the satellite TV and westernization caught up in India, Rangpanchami was still considered another Holi Day with full fledged play of colours in mediocre towns and cities.

Mythology

In Hindu mythology, Hiranyakashipu was the king of demons, and he had been granted a boon by Brahma, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was due to his long penance, after which he had demanded that he could not be killed 'during day or night; inside the home or outside; not on earth or on sky, neither by a man nor an animal'. Consequently, he grew arrogant, and attacked the Heavens and Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping Gods and start praying to him. But his own son, Prahlad, was a worshipper of Lord Vishnu. In spite of several threats from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlad continued offering prayers to Lord Vishnu. Getting angry with his son, Hiranyakashipu tried various ways of killing him, but failed. Ultimately he ordered young Prahlad to sit on a pyre on the lap of his sister Holika, who could not die by fire by virtue of a shawl which if worn would not let the person wearing be affected by fire. Prahlad readily accepted the challenge, and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as the shawl flew from Holika, who, then was burnt to death, while Prahlad survived without a scar to show for it, after the shawl moved on to cover him. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi. In Vrindavan and Mathura the festival is still celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Lord Krishna is believed to have popularised the festival by playing pranks on the gopis here. The celebrations officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love.

External link

  • ReligionFacts.com: Holi (http://www.religionfacts.com/hinduism/holidays/holi.htm) - History, meaning, customs and observances.
  • Holi Legends (http://www.thecolorsofindia.com/holi-legends/) - Learn the history and legends behind this playful east Indian holiday.
  • Holi - The Festival of Colours (http://www.rudraksha-ratna.com/holi.html) - Legends behind Holi and Color Celebrations
  • Holi (http://festivals.tajonline.com/holi.php) - Know more about Holi, Importance of holi in India



Hinduism | Hindu festivals | Hindu calendar
Pongal | Holi | Ugadi | Ram Navami | Krishna Janmaashtami | Onam

Ganesha Chaturthi | Vijayadashami | Dasara | Navratri | Diwali | Thaipusam

Sacred Days: Maha Shivratri | Ekadasi | Vaikunta Ekadasi | MahaLakshmi vratha
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