Wednesday is Holi, a major holiday in India used to usher in the spring season with dancing, eating and the iconic color festival.
Holi originates from Hindu mythology that tells the story of the evil King Hiranyakashyap who wanted his people to worship him and regard him as a god. His son, Prahlad, disobeyed his father and continued to worship the Hindu god Vishnu. Because of his disobedience, the King ordered his demoness sister Holika — who was supposed to be immune to fire — to sit with Prahlad in a fire as a form of execution.
According to the Holi festival website, “Legend has it that Prahlad was saved for his extreme devotion for the lord while Holika paid a price for her sinister desire.” Therefore, Holi is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, especially for those who exercise faith in a higher power.
Holika Dahan, meaning the evening of burning, is the evening before Holi when bonfires are lit in reference to the burning of Holika — who represents negativity — to prepare for the joyous celebration of Holi the next day.
Rangwali Holi begins on Purnima, or full moon, in the Hindu month of Phalguni which spans over February and March.
Holi is best known for gulal, the colorful powder that is thrown around during these celebrations. The colors may be in reference to the vibrant colors of spring, but they may also be connected to the story of love between the Hindu god Krishna and the goddess Radha.
According to National Geographic, “Red dye symbolizes love, fertility, and matrimony. Blue represents Krishna, while green stands for new beginnings.”
The colorful powders used in the color festival also serve as an equalizer of people as individuals from all socioeconomic backgrounds, religions and nationalities come together to celebrate Holi.
A typical food eaten during Holi is gujiya, a fried dumpling-like pastry filled with fruits and spices and soaked in sweet syrup.
For those interested in Holi celebrations, there will be a festival of colors in Spanish Fork, Utah on March 25 and 26 at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple. Find more information about the event on the festival of colors website.