Holi, Festival of Colors, Lath Mar Holi, Dol Purnima, Legend of Holi

What is Holi

Holi is also known as the festival of colors. Holi is a festival that is celebrated by the Hindus in the spring season.

Different Names with Which Holi is celebrated

Holi is celebrated with different names in different regions

Phagwah  or Dolajatra in Orrisa

Dol Jatra or Basantotsav  in Bengal and Assam

Why the festival of colors is named Holi?

Holi was derived from the name of the demon Holika, who was the sister of the demon Hiranyakashapu.

Why is Holi Celebrated?

Holi is celebrated to commemorate the day when good won over evil. Holi was the day when it was proved to the world that a devotee will always be saved by the God. On this day Holika was burnt to death while trying to kill Prahalada. People were rejoiced and showed their happiness by putting colors on each other.

Story of Holi

Once there lived a great demon by the name of Hiranyakashapa. He did great penance for Lord Brahma and sought out a boon that he should not be killed by humans, animals, on Land, on sky,in or on water, by any instrument or weapon etc.  It was thought that no one would be able to kill the demon.

The demon was blessed with a child by the name of Prahalada who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu the arch rival of the demon. Prahalada from childhood itself used to sing songs on Lord Vishnu and preach the greatness of the Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashapa was annoyed with the behavior of his son and was forced to punish the son. Hiranyakashapa tried to frighten Prahalada by giving him all sorts of heinous punishments. But prahalada was always saved by Lord Vishnu and Prahalada used to come out smiling as if nothing has happened.

Finally the demon decided to kill his son as the son was not ready to stop chanting the name of his rival Lord Vishnu. He tried killing the son by getting him bit by poisonous snakes, throwing him from cliffs, drowning him in ocean etc. But none could kill Prahalada or even hurt him a bit. He used to come out of all the odds scratch less by the  grace of Lord Vishnu.

Fed up with not knowing the means to kill Prahalada Hiranyakashapa was worried. Hiranyakashapa had a sister by the name of Holika. She was more cruel that her brother and reached out Hiranyakasapa and told that she would kill Prahalada by taking him into fire. When enquired on how she would save herself. Holika replied that she had a shawl that was given to her as a boon and as long as the shawl was on her no fire could touch her. She said that she would sit covering herself with the shawl and taking Prahalada on her lap in a pyre of fire.

Hiranyakashapa readily agreed and arranged for a massive pyre. Holika wearing the shawl took Prahalada and sat on the pyre. The pyre was lit and  suddenly a strong breeze which took off the shawl from Holika and had it fall on Prahalada.

Holika was burnt in the fire and was killed while Prahalada who was covered with the shawl came out without any thing.

People rejoiced the death of Holika by throwing colors on one another. From that day onward Holi is being celebrated Holi in the Month of Phalguna on the Full Moon day.

Famous Holi Rituals


A bonfire is arranged in the main squares of the villages and towns. Youth would bring in old unused furniture and lit the bonfire. People would dance around the fire and rejoice.

There is also a ritual of breaking a pot of buttermilk in Ahmedabad which is hung high on the streets. Young people would stand on one another to form a ladder to break the pot


Lath Mar Holi:

Holi is celebrated in a big way in Uttar Pradesh. Out of all the places in India it is Barsana in UttarPradesh where the celebrations of Holi are world famous. The Holi Celebrations in Barsana attract a lot of tourists from around the world.

On Holi, Women would chase Men away by hitting them with Lathis. Men would invite and woo women by singing provocative songs.

The festival got the name Lath Mar Holi, since women would chase away men using Lath (stick) and try to hit Men(Mar) . Men would protect themselves using shields.


Dol Purnima:

On the day of Holi or Dol Purnima  young boys would come out early in the morning wearing saffron dress or pure white dress wearing a garland of fragrant flowers in a procession on the streets. People would sing and dance on the roads. Dol Purnima is also known as the SWING Festival.

Women would take turns to swing while other women would dance around the swings and sing. Men would spray colors on others.

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