Imagine this, the season of spring, different colorful dust particles flying through the air, on the ground and all over. It’s all wet and stuff but there are dry patches in the land too so there was probably no rain. But there’s water, flying here and there, in the open, inside those rubber balloons may through those hydraulic pipe things… pichkari? People dancing about among all that in chaos. And they don’t even look that panicked. Infact they seem to be enjoying it. What on this holi -earth is happening?
Well, what you’re witnessing is the celebration of the festival of Holi.
This “festival of colors”, signifies the arrival of spring. It is one of the most revered and joyous occasion in this part of the globe. The festival is a celebration of the victory of Hindu deity Vishnu and his follower Prahlada over the king of the demonic Ashura, King Hiranyakashipu, who also happened to be Prahlada’s own father. The king was defeated by one of Vishnu’s avatar known as Narshingha, but the name holy comes from Hiranyakashipu’s sister Holika, who burned in a fire despite her immunity to the element while trying to burn Prahalad who was being punished for worshipping a being other than his father who had a god complex and… well there’s a better story somewhere explaining this, including a few versions of animated and live action movies telling the story of the whole ordeal, so do check them out too.
Celebrated throughout the Indian Subcontinent, and beyond in places such as Jamaica, Guyana, South Africa, Fiji, and many more spreading throughout the globe as a celebration of colors, frolic and love. The festival is celebrated at the end of winter on the last full moon day, forty days after Basant Panchami in the month of Falgun of the Vikram Sambat calendar. This comes around the middle of March of the Georgian Calendar although depending on the lunar cycle, it could occur as early as late February.
It is in its core, a celebration of victory, however the festival has many other purposes. It signals the beginning of spring. Also it is a celebration of agriculture and harvest. A celebration of love. It is a time where people end their personal conflicts and patch up to celebrate together. They rid themselves of these accumulated emotional impurities of their past.
In Nepal, this day is a national holiday, celebrated by the entire population although the exact day of the occasion varies by a day depending on part of the country, as the southern part of the country celebrates Holi a day later than the rest of the country. The vibes of its arrival can be felt pretty early on in the country though, with people of all walk of life showing shades of its arrival of pre-Holi water balloon antics and maybe even stuff with the colorful dusts or molds called gulal. On the actual day of the occasion, the ones celebrating celebrate with it all. The colors. The water. The music, with playlist that keeps getting new updates every now and then. The dancing. The chaos. This festival has everything.
Traditional and nowadays even modern concerts are held in different cities of the country. People exchange colors and spray colored water on one another. A popular activity include throwing water balloons known as lola at each other. At the night, although not all part of the nation does this bit, but special bonfires are lit in places. And you don’t even have to be a part of the celebration to enjoy it, although that would be totally neat, but just the spectacle of the whole thing is an entirely different experience of its own.