On the evening of the full moon day, bonfires or ‘Holika’ are lit. This bonfire symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The story goes that Prahlad, the son of demon Hiranyakashipu, was an ardent devotee of lord Vishnu, but his father considered Vishnu as his arch enemy. He tried to dissuade his son from worshipping Vishnu, but could not deter him. Angered, he then tried to kill his son but every time lord Vishnu saved him. Finally Hiranyakashipu’s sister Holika decided to do the job for her brother. She had a shawl that was immune to fire. She covered herself with the shawl and sat on the pyre with Prahlad. As the fire blazed, a gust of wind blew the shawl off Holika, onto Prahlad , saving him from death and killing Holika. Hiranyakashipu was later slain by lord Vishnu’s ‘Narsimha’ avatar, in which he came as half man and half lion form.
On the next day, called Dhuleti or Dhulandi, people celebrate by coloring each other with colored water and gulal (dry colored powder). It is a mixed celebration of spring and also marks the agricultural season of Rabi crop.
Holi of Braj, the land of Krishna,is the most famous and colorful. The “lathmaar holi” of Barsana, the land of Radha (Krishna’s beloved) symbolizes the love of Radha and Krishna. The men from Nandgaon (Krishna’s village) visit Barsana on Holi. They sing songs, try to draw the attention of the women folk and drench them in colored water. The women, in turn, beat the men with thick staves or ‘lathi’ as they are called. The men have to save themselves from them using shields.
Special sweets and savouries are prepared in the homes. Friends and family get together to play holi and enjoy the special food with cool Thandai to round off with. Its a festival of fun, excitement and joy.
May this Holi fill your life with all colors of joy, happiness, love and prosperity!!