Holi Festival- Significance of the Holi Festival


The Holi festival is the traditional Indian festival of colors that marks the arrival of spring and the end of winter. Ritually, the Holi festival is a celebration of love, friendship and the zest of life through colors. In ancient scriptures, the festival of Holi represents a celebration of the triumph of good over evil.

Significance of Holi festivalIt is important to understand that in Hinduism, the various festivals are events that give us an opportunity to celebrate every act and event of creation that links us to our past. The common thread in the celebration of all major Hindu festivals is a puranic tale that talks about the Gods defeating the demons. In a philosophical sense, the Gods and demons are representations of our own good and evil tendencies. The celebration of these festivals is to empower and encourage us to choose wisely and perform good deeds. The holi festival also has its genesis in ancient stories that are mentioned in our ancient scriptures.

Significance of Holi festival: Why do we celebrate Holi

The english word “festival” translates as “Utsava” in Sanskirt. Utsava is formed from ut’ meaning ‘removal’ and sava’ meaning ‘misery’.

When we celebrate the festival of Holi we are basically expressing the joy of participating in the diversity of life and reminding ourselves that each “winter” in our life is temporary and will be followed by a joyful “spring”

The word Holi originates from the word Holika who was the sister of king Hiranyakashipu, a demon king. According to the legend, King Hiranyakashipu, king of Multan had become virtually indestructible because of a boon that he had earned and that had made him arrogant. He demanded that people consider him as God and worship him. His son Prahlad, however, did not worship him and remained an ardent worshipper of Lord Vishnu. This angered Hiranyakashipu, and he subjected his son to several punishments. However, none of those punishments affected him. The King then asked his sister, Holika who was immune to fire to sit on a pyre with Prahlad on her lap. Prahalad continued to recite Lord Vishnu’s name. With the blessings of God, the fire didn’t do any harm to him, but Holika got burnt to ashes. It is the death of Holika that signifies the importance of Holika Dahan. By remembering this story, people celebrate Holi every year to reinforce their faith in the almighty and take solace from the fact that “bhakti” or faith will take them through the trials of Kali Yuga.

Colors becoming a part of the Holi festival is also dated back to the time of Lord Krishna and Radha. Lord Krishna used to celebrate the festival with colors and play Holi with his friends at Vrindavan and Gokul. This has led to people also interpret Holi as a celebration between the divine love of Lord Krishna and Radha. Remembering this incident, people apply colors to forget personal enmity and forgive & forget.

Popularly, the festival of Holi is celebrated with friends and family coming together and enjoy themselves by playing with “gulal” or colors. The common belief is that Holi is being celebrated to welcome spring and bid goodbye to the winters. It is also known as Vasant Mahotsava because spring harvest is associated with it. The festival brings happiness and prosperity for all. People also drench each other with colored water to celebrate this festival.

The Holi festival starts on Purnima and lasts for two days. The first day of the holi festivals is known as Choti Holi or Holika Dahan and the second day of the Holi festival is known as Holi or Dhulandi. The festival of Holi falls in the month of Falgun, somewhere between the end of February to the middle of March.

How is the Holi Festival celebrated in different Parts of India?

  • significance of holi festivalThe festival of Holi is celebrated in Vrindavan and Mathura with much pomp and joy as it is here where Lord Krishna spent his childhood. The celebrations in these places span over a week with people visiting temples of Lord Krishna and Radha to get themselves drenched in color and colored water.
  • In Barsana (Radha’s village) people play Lathmaar Holi. This is said to be a recreation of the time when Lord Krishna who was from the Nandgaon village visited Radha’s village to play Holi along with his friends. However, sticks were hurled at them to drive them out of the village. Keeping in sync with the tradition, it is still done every year with women hurling sticks at the men and the men trying to save themselves.
  • In western India, the tradition is to hang a pot of buttermilk high up in the middle of the street. People form a human staircase and try to break the pot. Whoever succeeds in breaking the pot is crowned as the winner of that area for a year. The tradition of breaking pots is linked to the habit of Lord Krishna who used to steal and break the pots of buttermilk at people’s houses.
  • In Eastern India, the way of celebrating the festival of Holi is slighly different. People in Bengal play with a colored powder called Abeer or with colored powder and colored water. Holi here is known as Dol Yatra. Idols of Krishna and Radha are placed on a swing, and people take turns to swing them. Orissa also has similar traditions as those of Bengal and celebrate the festival in a similar way.
  • In North East India, Holi is a six-day festival. In earlier times, folk dances and folk songs were performed under the moonlight. This has changed now, and the folk songs have been replaced by modern bands. People set ablaze a thatched hut of twigs and hay, and devotees dance and play with gulal in front of Lord Krishna’s temple. Several cultural activities are performed on the last day of the festival.

The Holi festival has gained popularity and is now celebrated in different parts of the world too.

Holika Dahan is celebrated one day before Holi where a pyre is lit. The ritual symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. People sing and dance around the pyre.

The festival of Holi is said to strengthen the feeling of brotherhood among the people. It remains as the festival that is celebrated with much joy and ecstasy all over India by people of all ages.


Usage of colors in the Holi Festival

In earlier times, the colors known as gulal were made from the flowers of the “palash” or “tesu” tree. No chemicals were added, causing no harm to the skin. But, these days’ artificial colors are made using harsh chemicals that cause skin irritation at times.

Holi Festival Dates in 2017

Holika Dahan or Choti Holi is on the 12th of March

Holi or Rangwali Holi is on the 13th of March

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Hindu Festivals- Celebrating Life

Significance of Hindu Festivals

Hinduism teaches that life is a constant state of celebration. Being the most ancient religion of the world, Hinduism promotes celebrating every act and event of creation that links us to our past.

When Hindus celebrate a festival they are basically praying and participating in rituals and traditions for removing misery from their lives. Most of the prominent festivals in Hinduism carry a historic tale of the gods defeating the demons which is supposed to motivate mankind to introspect and overpower the tamasic tendencies by their sattvic tendencies.

The english word “festival” translates as “Utsava” in Sanskirt. Utsava is formed from ‘ut’ meaning ‘removal’ and ‘sava’ meaning ‘misery’.

List of Hindu Festivals 2017/Hindu Calendar 2017

Hindu festivals January 2017

         January 8, 2017 – Paush Putrada Ekadashi

January 14, 2017- Makar Sakranti, Pongal

 January 23, 2017- Shattila Ekadashi

Hindu festivals in February 2017

  February 1, 2017- Vasant Panchami

 February 7, 2017 – Jaya Ekadashi

February 22, 2017- Vijaya Ekadashi

February 24, 2017- Maha Shivaratri

Hindu festivals in March 2017

March 8, 2017-  Amlaki Ekadashi

March 13, 2017- Holi

March 24, 2017- Papmochani Ekadashi

       March 28, 2017- Gudi Padwa, Ugadi, Chaitra Navratri

Hindu festivals in April 2017

April 5, 2017 – Ram Navam

April 7, 2017 – Kamada Ekadashi

 April 11, 2017 – Hanuman Jayanti, Chaitra Purnima

April 14, 2017- Mesha Sakranti, Baisakh/ Bohag Bihu/ Vishu/ Pahela      Baisakh (New year for Punjab, Assam, Kerala & West Bengal)

April 22, 2017- Varuthini Ekadashi

April 28, 2017- Parashurama Jayanti, Akshaya Tritiya

Hindu festivals 2017- May

May 6, 2017- Mohini Ekadashi

May 9, 2017 – Narasimha Jayanti

May 22, 2017- Apara Ekadashi

May 25, 2017- Shani Jayanti

Hindu festivals 2017 – June

 June 5, 2017 – Nirjala Ekdashi

June 20, 2017- Yogini Ekadashi

June 25, 2017 – Jagannath Rathyatra

Hindu festivals 2017 – July

 July 4, 2017- Devshayani Ekadashi

 July 9, 2017 – Guru Purnima

 July 19, 2017- Kamika Ekadashi

July 27, 2017- Nag Panchami

Hindu festivals in August 2017

August 3, 2017 – Shravana Putrada Ekadashi

August 7, 2017- Raksha Bandhan

August 14/15, 2017 – Janmashtami

August 18, 2017- Aja Ekadashi

August 25, 2017 – Ganesh Chaturthi

Hindu festivals in September 2017

September 2, 2017- Parsva Ekadashi

September 4, 2017 – Onam

September 5, 2017 – Anant Chaturdashi/ Ganpati Visarjan

September 16, 2017- Indira Ekadashi

September 21, 2017- Navratri Begins

September 28, 2017 – Durga Ashtami

September 29, 2017- Maha Navami

September 30, 2017- Dusshera, Vijayadashami

Hindu festivals in October 2017

October 1, 2017- Papankusha Ekadashi

October 5, 2017- Kojagari Purnima, Sharad Purnima, Ashwin Purnmia

October 8, 2017- Karwa Chauth

October 12, 2017- Ahoi Ashtami

October 15, 2017- Rama Ekadashi

October 17, 2017- Dhanteras, Tula Samkranti

October 19, 2017- Diwali, Lakshmi Puja

October 20, 2017- Gowardhan Puja

October 26, 2017- Chatth Puja

October 31, 2017- Devdutthana Ekadashi

Hindu festivals in November 2017

November 1, 2017- Tulsi Vivah

November 4, 2017- Karthik Purnima

November 10, 2017- Kal Bhairav Jayanti

November 14, 2017- Utpanna Ekadashi

November 30, 2017- Mokshada Ekadasi, Gita Jayanti

Hindu festivals in December 2017

December 3, 2017- Sri Dattatreya Jayanti

December 13, 2017- Saphala Ekadashi

December 29, 2017- Pausha Putrada Ekadashi


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