Article: Significance of Holi

United Colors of Holi

February 22, 2022

Holi is a Hindu spring festival observed in India and the Indian Diaspora. Holi festivities will begin on March 18, 2022. Holi serves as a reminder of being positive and hopeful. This idea is demonstrated in nature since the time of spring is when many plants bloom and animals become more active. In the winter, the environment is often snowy and cold and not very conducive to social interactions. The rise in temperature and sunlight brings comfort and encourages overall wellness. There is a greater sense of community building since more people are out of their homes interacting with one another. With better conditions, farmers can harvest many of their crops and nourish their communities.

Holi is commonly observed by people throwing colored powder or water at one another with great pomp and joy. The act is a reminder to spread positive emotions to one another. For example, yellow represents hope or green represents nobility. The throwing of colors is done diligently and amusingly. Along with participating in these festivities, people often prepare large meals. They invite loved ones and well-wishers to partake in meals and comradery as one large family.

Although based on Hindu scriptures and traditions, Holi is a festival that can be celebrated by all people. Holi encompasses the shared experience of spring and the positive emotions that are evoked from the vivid and bright atmosphere. Anyone can join in the festivities since they inherently promote companionship and mutual respect.

There are two events found in the sacred history of Hindu Dharma that explain the observance of Holi. One explains the destruction of the demons and demonesses. King Hiranyakashapur was a demon who wreaked havoc on the world and wanted to destroy his son Prahalad, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. He tried many ways to destroy his son, even enlisting the help of his sister, Holika, who tried to burn her nephew alive but failed. Lord Narsimha, the half-man, half-lion incarnation of Lord Vishnu then appeared and destroyed Hiranyakashapur. Another event is the reincarnation of Kamadeva, the deity of affection, as Pradyumna, who reunited with his consort, Rati, the deity of spring. In the history of Hinduism, there are many episodes of deities celebrating Holi such as Lord Rama with the people of Ayodhya and Lord Krishna with the people of Vrindavan.

Holi begins with the planting of a castor oil plant that symbolizes the demoness, Holika, on a date known as Vasant Panchami, forty days before Holi. On the night of Holi, which is the full moon, the plant is burned. The next day, Holi is commonly observed with great splendor and enthusiasm as people throw colored water and powder on each other. Many other devotees engage in chowtal, or singing in specific meters, about the Hindu deities and their Holi pastimes.