Holi – Significance and celebrations across the country

 

So why do we celebrate Holi?

Numerous legends and stories associated with Holi celebration makes the festival more exuberant and vivid. It has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of good over evil. The original reason of celebrating Holi lies in its soul. “Holi” signifies “burning” in Indian language and how it came to be associated with “burning”, the reference is found only in ancient Indian mythology.

The festival’s preamble begins on the eve of Holi when bonfires are lit on the streets to symbolize the destruction of Holika. According to the legend, there was once a demon king by the name of Hiranyakashyap who won over the kingdom of earth. He commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father.
Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but Lord Vishnu saved him every time. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed. Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. The legend has it that Holika had to pay the price of her sinister desire by her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion. Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika, and is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil. What once was an epic myth is still an inspiration to keep hope and stand by the good.

Lath Maar Holi At Barsana

Barsana Holi

Indian men don’t always rule the roost! In what is known as Lathmar Holi celebrations the womenfolk of Barsana – a village near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, greet the men of Nandgaon – the birthplace of Krishna with sticks. Lathmar Holi is conducted a week before the main day of Holi. Though completely aware, the men come fully padded and enjoy the beating from the spirited women! The men of Barsana respond the next day by entering Nandgaon and splashing color water on the women of Nandgaon.

Traditional Holi At Mathura & Vrindavan

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To feel the real essence of Holi, the best place to be is at Mathura Vrindavan – the land of Krishna. Mathura located at a distance of 4 to 5 hours from Delhi, it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna whereas Vrindavan is the place where he spent his childhood. The legends of Holi is associated with Radha-Krishna and with the cowgirls called gopis. In Mathura and Vrindavan the festival of Holi is celebrated for over a week. The famous Banke Bihari temple and Dwarkadheesh Temple in Mathura is the best place to catch the throwing of colors. At Vishram Ghat, you can see the priests making bhang.

Holika Dahan At City Palace Udaipur

City-Palace-Udaipur

Every year, on the eve of Holi at the City Palace of Udaipur in the presence of Mewar’s Royal family,  Holi Pyre is burnt to ward off evil spirits in a ritual called Holika Dahan. The customs of lighting the Holi pyre is traditionally performed by the current guardian of the Mewar dynasty. During the celebrations, a splendid palace parade from the royal residence to Manek Chowk at the City Palace is conducted. During the parade bedecked horses and royal band participates. Later the traditional sacred fire is lit and an effigy of Holika is also burnt.

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