Holi 2021 will be celebrated on March 29th and Holika Dahan will be held on March 28th this year. The festival of colours and all-day-long parties, Holi is all about water balloons, smearing gulal all over our friends and families and salivating at the sight of gujiya! Yet that’s just one way of celebrating Holi, this festival of colours is as diverse as the colours used in it. Did you know that in Vrindavan and Mathura, Holi is a week-long festival with fascinating rituals! These incredible rituals include playing with flowers instead of colours or the iconic Lathmaar Holi where they dab men with bamboo sticks! Truly an international attraction for people around the world, Holi 2021 might be a bit different in the light of social distancing and pandemic rules. Let’s know more about what Holi is about, its history, importance, how it is traditionally celebrated around India and abroad!
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What is Holi?
Holi is one of the most fascinating, vibrant and joyous Hindu festivals in India. Every state, city, temple and locality has its own fascinating unique way of celebrating this festival of colours. Holi is celebrated to enjoy the triumph of good over evil and marks the end of winter across the northern states of India. Welcoming the soothing spring season, Holi is celebrated on a full moon night and in the month of Phalguna (Feb-March) in the Hindu calendar and the date for this year is 29th March 2021.
The History of Holi: The Myth of Holika and Prahalad
The most popular legend associated with the celebration of Holi is the cautionary tale of Hiranyakashipu – the demon king, his sister, Holika and his son, Prahalad. Legend has it that there was once a demon king, Hiranyakashipu, who ruled over the earth. In his arrogance and greed, he dictated all his subjects to preach to him and no other god. Yet his own son defied him and offered patronage to Lord Vishnu and prayed only to him. Angered, Hiranyakashipu decided to kill his son and hatched a plan with his sister, Holika. Holika had a boon; she was immune to fire. So, Holika and her brother decided that Holika would hold Prahalad and sit on the funeral pyre while Holika would remain unscathed, Prahalad would meet his ultimate demise. When the two sat on the funeral pyre, Holika began to burn while her nephew remained unharmed because of his profound devotion and faith in Lord Vishnu even in the hardest times. This burning of Holika and is called Holika Dahan; marks the victory of good over evil. Every year, across India, on the eve of Holi, people lit fires to ward off evil.
Another fun and playful legend associated with Holi is the one where Krishna smears colour on Radha; it celebrates their love and playful relationship and this scene was often depicted in miniature paintings.
How is Holi Celebrated Across India?
Holi is the most diverse secular Hindu festival in India and people from all walks of life celebrate it. The festival generally involves singing, dancing, playing with colours and pichkaris (water guns) and enjoying delicacies like gujiyas and ladoos. But there are several variations when it comes to celebrating Holi in India. Let us dive in and see how different states celebrate this quirky festival:
Holi in Vrindavan and Mathura
These temple towns of Uttar Pradesh are the go-to destination for celebrating Holi! Every year people from all over the world visit these two towns in the month of March to experience the unique celebration of Holi. In Mathura, the celebration of Holi is a grand affair because it is the birthplace of Lord Krishna; Temples are decorated and musical processions can be heard all around the ghats. People take part in fun rituals like Lathmar Holi, Phoolon wali Holi and the popular Rangwali Holi. Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan is the hotspot for the Holi celebration where people play Holi using flowers! These celebrations are astonishing and last over a week.
Holi in Punjab
Punjab has a festival called Hola Mohalla which coincides with the Hindu festival Holi. It is a three-day festival where Sikhs celebrate their culture and the Sikh warriors by displaying their military-style and courageousness. It includes lots of fun celebrations like horse-riding, playing with colours, bhangra, playing music and reciting poetry!
Holi in Rajasthan
The home of the Hindu royals; this state knows how to celebrate Holi! The best cities for Holi are Ajmer, Udaipur, Pushkar, Bikaner and Jaipur; the celebrations start with burning effigies of Holika and burning the bonfire on the eve of Holi, the next day people can be seen enjoying folk music, enacting folk plays and dances on the streets! Rajasthan also has variations like Mali Holi where men throw colour at women while women playfully retaliate with pieces of cloth or sticks.
Holi in Kerala
Though this holiday is a lowkey affair in Kerala and nowhere near the madness that takes place in the northern states. Its called Manjal Kuli and is celebrated by Konkani communities, Kudumbi and Gaud Sarawat Brahmins in certain temples. The rituals include burning a bonfire on the eve of Holi or building a crocodile out of the mud to offer to Goddess Durga and her fight over evil. The next day all the members of these communities play with colours, water guns and dance!
Holi celebrations are not just a big rage among communities and states; every Indian university enjoy this festival with gusto! From schools to big universities like Jawarharlal Nehru University and Delhi University celebrate this festival extravagantly with colours, music and traditional food! Since colleges and universities are still slowly opening their doors for classroom study, Holi 2021 might seem a bit different at Indian universities!
Holi Celebrations Abroad!
While thousands of foreigners come to India to celebrate Holi, Indians have taken the festival to those who can’t. This crazy festival is popular in countries like Nepal, the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, South Africa, Australia and more! Even popular universities like the University of Sussex in the UK, the University of British Colombia in Canada, Florida International University in the USA and Monash University in Australia.
This was all about Holi 2021 and since the world is still recovering from the pandemic, it is essential to follow the official rules related to social distancing in your area while playing holi! This year we might not be able to celebrate the festival in the traditional manner but we can make up our own rituals and traditions that are safe! We wish you a safe and happy Holi! For more fun content, follow Leverage Edu on Youtube, Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.