This is the latest accepted revision, reviewed on 12 April 2018. Basanta Utsav” and “Holli” redirect here. For the ice hockey player, see Vishu grover child school Hölli.
This article needs additional citations for verification. Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities outside Asia. In recent years the festival has spread to parts of Europe and North America as a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours. Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika Dahan where people gather, perform religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil be destroyed the way Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, was killed in the fire. There is a symbolic legend to explain why Holi is celebrated as a festival of colours in the honour of Hindu god Vishnu and his follower Prahlada. Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed.
He was and remained devoted to Vishnu. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right. Finally, Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. The Holika bonfire and Holi signifies the celebration of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika. In the Braj region of India, where the Hindu deity Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated until Rangpanchmi in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. The festivities officially usher in spring, with Holi celebrated as a festival of love. The Holi festival has a cultural significance among various Hindu traditions of the Indian subcontinent.
It is the festive day to end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as deal anew with those in their lives. Holi also marks the start of spring, for many the start of the new year, an occasion for people to enjoy the changing seasons and make new friends. Sikhs have traditionally celebrated the festival, at least through the 19th century, with its historic texts referring to it as Hola. Holi was observed by Maharaja Ranjit Singh and his Sikh Empire that extended across what are now northern parts of India and Pakistan. According to a report by Tribune India, Sikh court records state that 300 mounds of colours were used in 1837 by Ranjit Singh and his officials in Lahore.
Ranjit Singh would celebrate Holi with others in the Bilawal gardens, where decorative tents were set up. Holi is an important spring festival for Hindus, a national holiday in India and Nepal with regional holidays in other countries. To many Hindus and some non-Hindus, it is a playful cultural event and an excuse to throw coloured water at friends or strangers in jest. It is also observed broadly in the Indian subcontinent.
Holi snacks and drinks, post play with colours. In 17th century literature, it was identified as a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. It also has a religious purpose, symbolically signified by the legend of Holika. People gather near fires, sing and dance. The next day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, or Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated.
Like Holika Dahan, Kama Dahanam is celebrated in some parts of India. The Holi festival is an ancient Hindu festival with its cultural rituals. It is mentioned in the Puranas, Dasakumara Charita, and by the poet Kālidāsa during the 4th century reign of Chandragupta II. Days before the festival people start gathering wood and combustible materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is an effigy to signify Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil.
People gather around the fire to sing and dance. This ritual is called Lath Mar Holi. Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colours such as turmeric, neem, dhak, and kumkum were used, but water-based commercial pigments are increasingly used. Groups sing and dance, some playing drums and dholak. After each stop of fun and play with colours, people offer gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other traditional delicacies.
Friends form groups on Holi, play drums and music, sing and dance, as they move from one stop to another. In the Braj region around Mathura, in north India, the festivities may last more than a week. The rituals go beyond playing with colours, and include a day where men go around with shields and women have the right to playfully beat them on their shields with sticks. In south India, some worship and make offerings to Kaamadeva, the love god of Indian mythology. Holi is also a festival of forgiveness and new starts, which ritually aims to generate harmony in the society. The customs and celebrations vary between regions of India. Basanto Utsav dancers at Jorasanko Thakurbari.