Holi is considered one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India and it is celebrated in almost every part of the country. It is also sometimes called the “festival of love” as on this day people get to unite together forgetting all resentments and all types of bad feelings towards each other. The great Indian festival lasts for a day and a night, which starts in the evening of Purnima or the Full Moon Day in the month of Phalgun. It is celebrated with the name Holika Dahan or Choti Holi on the first evening of the festival and the following day is called Holi. In different parts of the country, it is known with different names.
The festival falls in the Hindu calendar month of Phalgun, which usually falls between February and March. On the day of Holi people play with colours with their friends and families and people seek the blessings of their elders. People visit their friends and relatives and also relish Holi delicacies like gujiya, thandai and more after playing Holi.
Holi is a celebration of the divine love between Lord Krishna and Radha. According to mythology, Lord Krishna was of a dark complexion and used to complain to his mother, Yashoda. Additionally, Radha was very fair, and Krishna used to be anxious if she would accept him despite the contrast in their complexion. So one day, Yashoda playfully suggested that Lord Krishna should smear Radha’s face with colours to remove the difference in their complexion. Krishna followed his mother’s advice and smeared Radha’s face. And that is how Holi celebrations began all over the country. This is why the festival is played with much pomp in Mathura and Vrindavan. It is also a harvest festival and marks the arrival of spring and the end of winter.
Another legend associated with Holi is of demon king Hiranyakashipu, his son Prahalad – a devotee of Lord Vishnu, and his demoness aunt, Holika. According to Hindu mythology, Hiranyakashipu was blessed with a boon that he could not be killed by either a man or any animal. He wanted people to worship him. However, when his son became a devotee of Lord Vishnu and refused to worship Hiranyakashipu, he asked his sister Holika to kill him by sitting on a pyre. When Holika sat on the pyre, she donned her flame-shielding shawl and sat Prahlad on her lap. However, Prahlad began praying to Vishnu, who summoned a gust of wind that blew the shawl off Holika and onto Prahlad, saving him and letting her burn to death. This is why a day before Holi, Holika Dahan is celebrated.
On 3 March 22, I received a digital invitation on my WhatsApp from the Social Secretary, Embassy of India to join the Holi celebration on the evening of 17 March 2022.
It generally used to be a small gathering before but on reaching the embassy, I found that it’s quite a big arrangement with lots of guests invited. It may be due to Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav! It’s nice to see such events at the embassy.
There was a game of Tambola, followed by dinner mainly consisting of Biriyani, Halwa, and ice creams. After the dinner, Ambassador Pise started smearing gulaals and the place became colourful as people rejoiced. It was the first such experience of many local Iraqis and they enjoyed and participated in the celebration.
The vibrancy of colours is something that brings in a lot of positivity in our lives and Holi being the festival of colours is actually a day worth rejoicing.
Happy Holi! May this festival of colours brings more cheerful colours to everyone’s life.