Holi is a festival that brings everyone together, irrespective of their caste, creed or religion. It is a festival of colors that represents India’s unique culture i.e. unity in diversity. A detail of this festival is found in the Vedic scriptures, attributing its origin to the miraculous event that saved the life of Prahlada and killed the demon Holika in a bonfire. Holi also marks the advent of spring season and is celebrated at the arrival of vernal equinox, on the full moon. The festival typically falls in March, but sometimes in February (according to the Gregorian calendar).

Holi is the most awaited festival by people of every age. Not only because they get to play with colors, but they also avail the opportunity to savor the taste of some mouth watering traditional delicacies prepared for this festival.

Holika Dahan

Holi Customs
The day before Holi is observed for Holika Dahan. An effigy of Holika, the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyapa is kept in the wood and set on fire. Demon Hiranyakashyapa had asked her to kill his son, Prahlada(a great devotee of Lord Narayana).Holika tried to kill Prahlada by burning him in the fire. Bhakta Prahladas sincere devotion for his lord saved him from the evil plan of Holika. Instead she got trapped in her own evil plan and got burned. This ritual of setting a holy bonfire indicates the triumph of good over evil. Hindus consider this bonfire sacred, so they take the fire as well as the ash of the holy bonfire to their homes. It is believed that the holy ash brings success, prosperity and peace in their families.

Playing With Colors or Dhuleti

Holi Traditions

The next morning, the festival of colours or Holi is welcomed. It is during this time that adults and children smear coloured power on each other or use pichkaris/water guns to splash water(on unsuspecting victims). These days’ synthetic colours and foams are used during the festival. Since awareness about the ill effects of these colours has been spread, many households have adopted the age old method of preparing the colours at home. Women usually prepare the colours, using medicinal herbs like turmeric, henna or sandalwood powder.

Holi TraditionsMost people prefer Gulal to play Holi since it is less harmful and easily washable than wet colors. Gulal is used in huge quantities in various temples as well. It is believed that during the famous Lath Mar Holi of Barsana, about 3 Quintal of Gulal (300 kilograms) is used for playing Holi. Tesu and Palash flowers are also used in the preparation of natural colours. Moreover, the colours used on the body have a great impact. Scientists believe that Abeer penetrates the body through the pores. It has the effect of strengthening the ions in the body hence it enhances ones health.

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Holi Colours
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A Family Get-together

Family get-together on Holi

Visiting loved ones and exchanging gifts are a very important part of Holi customs. The kids pay respect to the elders of the house by touching their feet for blessings. The adults in turn shower the children with blessings and gifts along with dabbing some colour on their face for good luck. After this, families visit their loved ones and celebrate Holi together, revelling in the spirit of oneness and strengthening the bond of the community.

Preparation of Food

Holi DelicaciesFood is an integral part of the festival and is one of the reasons that keeps everyone brimming with energy on the day of the festival. Preparing sumptuous delicacies is important, especially for the womenfolk in the house. The morning usually starts with the aroma of freshly prepared sweets with Desi Ghee. The most famous sweets made in North India are Gujjias and Puran Poli in parts of Maharashtra and south India. Thandai (a cold beverage made with almonds, milk, sugar, spices etc) is served in large quantities and is often mixed with Bhaang in Holi (cannabis) as a part of the custom. Although bhaang is consumed for its medicinal properties, some people over indulge in it for getting high.

Also Read:
Top 5 Recipes for Holi Sweets | Special Cuisines for Holi

Customs in Other Parts of India

In some parts of India, it is a custom to eat the barley seeds that are roasted in fire. It is believed that the yield of the forthcoming harvest season can be foreseen by observing the direction of the flames. While in some parts of North and East India, humor-poem meetings (hasya-kavi sammelan) are organized.

In southern India, first yield of agricultural produce like fruits, coconuts etc are first offered to the holy fire . On the day after the Holika Dahan, people apply the ash remains on their forehead. They also consume it after mixing with sandal-paste, along with young leaves of the Mango tree in order to promote good health.

Holi Traditions in India

There are places like Nandagaon and Barsana near Mathura, where Lord Krishna and Radha lived. Both the places have special tradition associated to the Holi. Popularly known as the Lath Mar Holi , this Holi is unique in a way as the female folks from Barsana beat the men of Nandagaon with sticks as they try to reach the Shri Radha Temple. Men can t retaliate and have to protect themselves from the beating.

There are some other necessary customs attached to this festival, like, Hindus invite their sons-in-law and their families for a meal on the occasion of Holi. After the meal, he is given a pyala - a crisp note of any denomination from rupees five to rupees five hundred along with a glass of drink. Also, there is another custom, that married daughters are given kothli by their mother-in-law. The newly married bride is supposed to sing a song specially composed by her for this occasion, and then the elders bless her.

Also Read
Holi Celebrations in Himachal Pradesh | Holi Celebrations in Jaipur | Holi Celebrations in Maharashtra | Holi Celebrations in Mathura Vrindavan | Holi Celebrations in Pakistan | Celebrations in Punjab | Holi Celebrations in Bollywood | Holi Celebration in Offices

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