Holi is the festival of colours and it is celebrated widely especially in India and Nepal. Holi celebrations involve throwing coloured Holi powder and coloured water at people, but the festival also celebrates the arrival of spring. The Holi festival is celebrated around the world in Hindu communities, but the biggest festivities are around India, especially in North India as well as in Nepal. Holi is timed according to the lunar calendar but it usually falls on two days in March.
Festival of Colours and the Spring
Holi celebrations last two days. The night before the main day of Holi is called Holika Dahan and the main day is called Rangwali Holi. In the evening of Holika Dahan, fires are lit and effigies of Holika are burned. According to a legend Holika was the evil sister of a demon king and was burned in a fire, and Holi fires are a symbol of good winning over evil. Holi also celebrates the victory of good over evil and it is a day for forgiving past errors and ending conflicts.
How Holi is Celebrated
n the morning of the main day of celebrations, Rangawan Holi, celebrations start in the morning and continue throughout the day and into the evening. Colourful powders called gulal are thrown at friends, neighbours and passers-by. Holi powder is also mixed with water and people are then drenched in coloured water. In the past the powder was made with natural ingredients such as turmeric powder and other natural coloured ingredients. Many people still make their own natural colour powders at home, but today it is common to buy commercial powders that are made with synthetic ingredients.
On the day of Rangawan Holi everyone who goes out of the house gets drenched in coloured water and covered with colourful powder. Coloured water and powder is thrown at family members, friends and strangers. Outside on the streets and in other public places there are large gatherings of people, where everyone throws colours at each other. Water balloons are filled with coloured water and thrown at the crowds. The celebrations continue until late at night, and throughout the day everyone gets completely covered with colour. Holi is a day when everyone celebrates together and gets drenched in red, yellow, purple, green and blue.
Tips for Celebrating Holi
On the day of Holi it is best to wear old clothes that can be thrown away after they are covered with colour. Everyone who goes out will be covered with powder and water sooner or later and it is best to join in the festivities. The traditional natural colour powders and homemade powders are safe to use but today's synthetic powders contain chemical ingredients that can irritate the skin and can also be difficult to remove. Most people apply moisturizer or vegetable oils on their skin and their hair before going out so that they colour is easier to remove afterwards. It is also recommended to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the powders.