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Festivals of India


Holi is a spring harvesting festival celebrated with fervour, gusto and and wild abandon. In 2016 it was on 24th March. In 2017, it will be celebrated on 12th March.

The festival of Holi, a spring harvesting festival is celebrated over two days after the full moon in early March every year. On the evening of the first day bonfires are lit in public places and the next day people celebrate with festive vibrancies and wild abandon as they throw coloured powder and water at each other. The second day is called Dhuleti or Rangapanchami (Ranga-colour, Panchami=fifth day), from the time when the festival was celebrated over five days. Harvested grains and coconut were offered as oblation to the fire in rejoicing at the fertility of the land.

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Holi is one of the few Indian festivals that is celebrated publicly with great gusto. Weeks before the arrival of Holi, young boys comb the neighbourhood and collect waste-wood for the bonfire, lit at dusk.

Holi is not categorically dedicated to any deity from the Hindu pantheon, as are other festivals like Mahashivaratri, Ramanavami, Krishnastami, etc. Although mythology does make inferences to Shiva and Madana (the God of love) and how the meditating Shiva destroyed Madana with his third eye, when Madana disguised himself as a nymph to disturb him.

The legend usually associated with Holi revolves around the wicked king whose son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. When the king tried to prevent his son from worshiping Lord Vishnu, with the aid of his sister Holika, who had a boon that made her immune to the effects of fire, his plan backfired and Prahlad escapes unscathed while Holika was burnt to death.

In Vrindavan and Mathura the festival is celebrated for 16 days 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.

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Editor: Romola Butalia       (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.