Holi, Phagwa or Basant Utsav is an annual festival that welcomes spring. It is celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (end February or early March). Holi is particularly celebrated in North India. The association of Holi with religion is absent now since there are no longer any customs that may remind us of its religious roots.
How do People Spend This Holi-Day?
Holi is celebrated in all states and territories except Karnataka, Kerala, Nagaland, Puduchery, Tamil Nadu and Tripura. Vasant Panchami in Orissa, Tripura, West Bengal. The day begins with people attending Holi parties where everyone gathers to celebrate Holi with dance music and colors. There is a ritual of drinking bhang ki thandai and eating mithais and sweets (that may also be filled with bhang, an intoxicating homemade drug). Rest of the day is spent visiting family and friends and exchanging Holi gifts in India.
Initially Holi was a celebration of fertility and new beginnings that lasted for many days or weeks. But, the main festivals last two days. On the first day of the celebration, which is known as Chhoti Holi, Holika Dahan takes place. This tradition involves burning huge gangfires, dancing, singing and general merry making. The idea behind Holika Dahan is the victory of good over evil.
Colors of Holi
The best part of any Holi celebration is the play with colors. People throw Holi gulal and Abeer on friends and dear ones on Badi Holi or Dhulendi. It is the time of forgetting all enmity and meeting each other with lots of love. Also, people sing and dance on the beats of dholak. All these traditions add more joy to the festivals on Holi.
Legend Behind Holi Colors
As with Holika Dahan, the story behind Holi colors is connected to another of Lord Vishnu’s avatars, Krishna. Legend has it that Lord Krishna was not too happy with the fact that whereas Radha was fair complexioned, he himself was very dark. Krishna questioned his mother about this injustice. To make her son happy, Yashoda suggested that Krishna apply color on Radha’s face and change her complexion. Krishna was also understood to have played with milkmaids (gopis) by throwing color and water on them. It was that that the game of applying colors gained popularity and became a part of Holi traditions. Even now, the application of colors is also an expression of love.
Playing with Colors on Holi
All kinds of distinctions are forgotten during Holi. The tradition of playing with colors on Holi is extremely popular as a general leveller among men and women (and other differences) in the society. There are Holi games that generate a feeling of goodwill and equality. Children also especially wait for this festival to show their true mischievous colors. They eagerly wait for someone with dry colors and water colors filled in a water jet popularly called a pichkari. ‘Bura na mano Holi hai’ is the underlining theme of this fun filled festival.
You can check various sources for gift ideas on Holi.