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A Brief History of Holi


Holi  •  6 Mar, 2023  •  4,043 Views  •  ⭐ 5.0

Written by Shivani Chourasia


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Holi, also known as the "festival of colours," is a Hindu festival celebrated all over India and other parts of the world. It is one of the most colourful and lively festivals, celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Phalguna, which falls between February and March.

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The Ancient Trace

In 20-Holi-Pictures: Celebration through the Ages | The Heritage Lab
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The history of Holi can be traced back to ancient India, and its roots are deeply ingrained in Hindu mythology. The festival is believed to have originated as a celebration of the victory of good over evil and the arrival of spring.

Holika and Prahlad

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One of the most popular legends associated with Holi is the story of Holika and Prahlad. According to the legend, there was a demon king named Hiranyakashipu who had received a boon from Lord Brahma that he could not be killed by any human or animal. He became arrogant and demanded that everyone worship him instead of the gods.

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However, his son, Prahlad, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and refused to worship his father. It angered Hiranyakashipu, and he decided to kill Prahlad. He asked his sister, Holika, who had a boon that she could not be harmed by fire, to enter a fire with Prahlad in her lap. However, Lord Vishnu protected Prahlad, and Holika was burnt to death. This event is celebrated on the night before Holi, known as Holika Dahan, where people light bonfires to symbolize the victory of good over evil.

Lord Krishna and Radha

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Another popular legend is the story of Lord Krishna and Radha. According to the legend, Lord Krishna, who had a dark complexion, was jealous of Radha's fair complexion. He complained to his mother, who advised him to apply colour on Radha's face to change her complexion. This event is celebrated as the throwing of coloured powder, known as Gulal, during Holi.

Celebrations in Different Regions

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Holi is celebrated differently in different parts of India. In North India, the festival is known as "Lathmar Holi" and is celebrated in the town of Barsana, where women beat men with sticks as a symbolic gesture of their victory over Lord Krishna's playful attempts to colour them.

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In Mathura and Vrindavan, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, the festival is celebrated for several days with great fervour, and the celebrations include the throwing of colours and water. In Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated as "Rang Panchami," and people smear coloured powder on each other's faces and play with water.

In South India, the festival is known as "Kama Dahanam," and it commemorates the destruction of the god of love by Lord Shiva. The celebrations are more subdued in the South and include the lighting of bonfires and offering prayers. Overall, Holi is a festival that brings people together, and each region's unique celebrations make it a vibrant and diverse festival of colours.

Environmental Impact

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With the increasing popularity of Holi, there have also been concerns about the environmental impact of the festival. The use of synthetic colours and chemicals during Holi has led to the pollution of water bodies and has caused harm to people's health.

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Most of the colours used during Holi contain harmful chemicals that are toxic to the environment and can cause harm to humans and animals. The use of excessive water during the celebrations also leads to water scarcity and pollution. In some areas, the festival has resulted in the depletion of groundwater resources and the contamination of rivers and lakes.

Furthermore, the disposal of leftover colours and wastes after the celebrations also contributes to environmental degradation. Therefore, it is essential to promote eco-friendly alternatives and raise awareness about the impact of Holi on the environment to minimize the negative effects of this festival on the planet.

Conclusion

Holi is a festival that has a rich history and cultural significance in India. It is a celebration of the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, and the coming together of people from all walks of life. As the festival continues to evolve and spread across the world, it is important to celebrate it in a way that is respectful of its traditions and mindful of its impact on the environment.

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