Holi 2021: Date, Significance, History and Celebrations!
Bura na maano Holi Hai!
These are the words that ring through the streets during the festival of Holi in India. Holi, the festival of colours, is one of the prominent festivals of India that shows off its diverse cultures. This year Holi is on the 29th of March, a Monday, which extends the weekend. A perfect excuse to pack your bags and say, “Holi tho bahana hai, mujhe trip pe jaana hai.”
Why do we celebrate Holi?
Historically, Holi celebrates the coming of spring, when the agricultural produce is abundant, and the land is fertile. People smear each other with colour to celebrate the approaching of spring and bid farewell to the chill of the winter. For the most part, Holi is a North Indian festival, however, over the years it has spread to include many regions and cities. The most serious celebrations take place in New Delhi, Mumbai, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the streets are filled with colour and celebrations know no bounds.
The festival symbolises the victory of good over evil, the onset of spring, pulls the curtains on winter, and for many it is simply a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships.
What is the significance of Holi?
There are two main myths associated with why we celebrate Holi. One is that of Lord Krishna and the other is that of Lord Vishnu.
The myth of Lord Krishna
In Uttar Pradesh, in the region of Braj, people believe that Lord Krishna, who is dark-skinned because a demon by the name Putana tried to poison him, but eventually, his skin was the only thing affected. Krishna grew self-conscious about his skin and wondered how Radha would accept him, for she was as fair as snow. Giving into Krishna’s hesitation, his mother urges him to ask Radha, and ask her to colour him any colour she wanted. Krishna meets Radha and she playfully smears him with a variety of colours and thus was born an occasion to celebrate. In one way this festival is also celebrated as the festival of love to commemorate the coming together of Radha and Krishna. Another version of the myth says Lord Krishna loved playing with colours, along with his friends and thus the tradition is carried forward and in now Holi.
The myth of Lord Vishnu
The myth of Lord Vishnu is one where good triumphs over evil. An account from the Bhagavata Purana tells the story of Hiranyakashipu, an arrogant demon king with five unique boons. He could be killed by neither a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither at day nor at night, neither by astra nor by any shastra, and neither on land nor in water or air. This added to the King’s already inflated ego, he began to think himself a god and forced people to worship him. This demon King has a son Prahlada, who denied his father and remained devout to Vishu. He enraged the demon and he orders his sister Holika, how is blessed to never be touched by fire to sit in it with his son. By the grace of Vishnu, the fire never touched Prahlada but burns Holika to cinders. Lord Vishnu then takes the avatara of Narasimha to destroy the demon king and thus the legend celebrates the victory of good over evil.
This myth is the most popular one behind the jubilation of Holi. One day prior to the festival huge bonfires are lit around the city to commemorate the burning of Holika. The next day is the one people wait for with bated breath because each colour brings with it a reason to let your troubles go and just have fun. Children of all ages are seen on the streets engaged in pitchkari fights and a serious battle of dousing the other with as much colour as possible.
It’s not just us indulging in the festivities of Holi but it dates to the time of the Mughals where it is said that the emperor himself came out to greet the people and get coloured by them. This was the only day that people could celebrate with the king amongst them.
Different regions in India observe different, interesting customs on this day. In West Bengal and Assam, Holi is known as Basanta Utsav or spring festival, because it signifies the onset of spring and marks the end of winter. The town of Barsana has an interesting way of celebrating Holi. It has Lath Mar Holi, where women playfully beat men with sticks while men run around with shields to protect themselves. Even if it isn’t popular in the South, Holi has always been about coming together and having fun rather than segregation and separation.
It doesn’t matter which part of India you belong to when it’s Holi your heart too will long to be on the streets, splashed with colour, dancing to your heart’s content with the dhols that surround you. And this time the fun has only increased with the weekend being a long one. Tho kis cheeze ka wait kar rahe ho? Find your bag, pack your things, grab your friends and start looking for places you can get lost in for the weekend. Make your plans ahead of time this season to get the best experience of whatever you choose to do. Check out the various offers on Abhibus to help you book your tickets easier and faster to wherever you want to go.
Bhai, Holi tho abhi baaki hai, par tum yahan kya kar rahe ho? Chalo ticket book karlo aur niklo.