Holi, the festival of colors marks the commencement of spring season in India after the winter season. It is celebrated with utmost joy throughout the country. Similar to many other festivals in India, this festival also symbolizes the victory of good over evil in India. People of all age groups with their faces and clothes smeared with different colors of 'Gulal' celebrate the festival with great enthusiasm and fervor. The festival is generally celebrated on Phalgun Purnima (February – March) and people greet each other by rubbing colors on each other's body or face by saying 'Bura Na Maano Holi Hai'.
The festival of Holi actually begins a day before Dhulandi (day of playing colors) when people light a bonfire and indulge in singing and dancing around the fire. There are plenty of legends associated with the festival, but the popular one is ‘Holika Dahan’ - a mythological character. Prahlada, son of demon king Hanyakashipu was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. He disobeyed the orders of his evil father not to offer prayers to the Lord Vishnu. To teach his son a lesson, he sought the assistance of his sister, Holika to kill Prahlada. Holika sat on a bonfire with Prahlada, but to the amazement of the king, the fire burnt alive the invincible Holika and Prahlada remained unaffected.
The whole of India gets immersed in the celebratory fever, just a few weeks or days before the festival. The markets wear a vibrant look with various shops selling colors and delicious sweets like the gujiyas, rasgulla, malpua and so on. As for the drinks, one cannot miss the Bhang (a kind of drink prepared from the cannabis plant) or thandai. People in large numbers play holi in groups dancing to the foot tapping numbers shouting 'Holi Hai'. No one is spared on this occasion and the people are smeared color powders and spraying water with pichkaris (water guns) and water balloons.
The spirit of Holi is just beyond the imagination. It can only be felt and quite difficult to express in words. This festival is celebrated with immense gaiety with different traditions in various parts of India.
Those have witnessed the holi celebrations in Mathura city; Uttar Pradesh will always cherish the unforgettable memories. A popular attraction here is the 'Latthmaar' Holi where the women playfully hit the men with the sticks. The holy is mainly played in the premises of the Radha Rani Temple located in Barsana town, considered to be the birthplace of Goddess Radha.
In West Bengal, the festival of Holi is known by many names such as the Dol Purnima, Dol Jatra and Swing Festival. On this day, people welcome the spring season by playing colors and distributing sweets. People, especially the boys and girls wear saffron (yellow) colored dressess and flower garlands. They sing and dance by playing various musicial instruments that provides a mesmerizing view to the spectators. That is not all, as the idols of Krishna and Radha are beautifully decorated and taken in the palanquins for the procession (yatra) around the various parts of the state. During the yatra, people keep spraying the colors at the people carrying the idols.
People from the various parts of the world throng to Mathura – Vrindavan to celebrate the festival of Holi in the land of Lord Krishna. People dress themselves as Krishna, Radha and Gopi and engage in joyful pranks with each other. The great enthusiasm of the people showing their utmost respect and devotion to the almighty is simply incomparable. People, visiting the city, experience the feeling of romance flowing in the air. The Holi celebrations in Mathura - Vrindavan continue at least for a week. Every temple in this divine city celebrates holi with great fervor.
In Rajasthan, the festival of Holi is played in a similar fashion just like any other part of India. A huge bonfire in burnt and people gather around it singing various songs, dancing and relishing scrumptious food items. Next day in the morning, people throw colors (gulal and kumkum) on each other body and greet the people.
Holi - A festival of vivid colors, euphoria, friendship and reunion is an integral part of Indian culture and is a memorable experience to cherish forever. It also promotes the feeling of love by eradicating the feeling of hatred among the people.