Red for love, green for prosperity, blue for peace, orange for success, and pink for happiness!
While all of Christendom focuses on its highest holy days of Easter Week, in India and across southern Asia today, countless millions are celebrating one of the happiest holidays on Earth.
Holi is the great Indian festival of Spring, colors, and love. With roots in a number of ancient legends and stories, it is the least strictly religious Hindu holiday. It does, however, have some spiritual significance, commemorating Shiva’s courtship of Parvati, as well as the love between the Goddess Radha and Krishna.
Celebrated on the day after the Full Moon closest to the Equinox, in the Hindu month of Phalguna, it celebrates the arrival of Spring and is a time of disregarding social norms and indulging in general merrymaking.
In fact, even by the standards of India, which is one of the Earth’s greatest festival cultures, Holi is one of the world’s lightest, funniest, giddiest festivals.
It features wild music and fantastic light shows. Best of all, in every neighborhood, there are people blasting each other with brightly colored water and powders, hence the name “Festival of Colors.”
Banishing the old year’s somberness, festivities begin with singing and dancing at public bonfires. Traditionally, Hindu boys will have spent the weeks prior to Holi combing the neighborhood for any waste wood they can find for the bonfire.
The fire is lit sometime between 10 PM and midnight (at the rising of the Moon), and rarely in any sort of orderly fashion. Everyone gathers in the street for the event, and the air rings with shouts, catcalls, curses, and general mayhem.
Then, the real fun begins. For the next two days, everyone roams the streets, squirting each other with colored water from water pistols and throwing colored powders and water balloons off roofs. Most people wear old clothes, or, if invited to a party, crisp white clothes (the better to ruin!).
Bura Na Mano Holi Hai – Don’t Be Offended! It’s Holi!
It’s one of the few times when men and women mingle freely in public, and people use tricks to try to splash their relatives and friends with color. It’s also a time when everyone can drop social taboos, and all social castes, ages, sexes, and backgrounds join and celebrate together.
Throughout all the friendly chaos, friends and families gather for feasting and more merrymaking.
It is the traditional New Year in some places, and with Spring’s gift of new life and renewal, it is a festival to rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts, as well as reconcile old grievances with one another. People also pay or forgive debts, as well as make new commitments to important people in their lives.
Holi has naturally spread to other countries where there are thriving Indian communities, but because it is such a happy, uninhibited festival of Spring and love, it is growing in popularity across the globe.
This is a time to reach out to one another in a spirit of peace, happiness, and joy. It is a chance to forgive and begin anew. It is the celebration of the happiness of giving and receiving love, through a riot of of color.
In color-drenched merrymaking, may your Springtime get off to a magical, colorful start.