Holi is a Hindu festival widely celebrated in the Indian sub continent particularly in Nepal and India. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter. Holi specifically marks the last full moon of the Hindu calendar’s lunar month, Phalguna. The festival is celebrated with cultural music, dancing and applying colour powder over each other’s faces.
Significance of Holi Festival
Holi is celebrated as a significance of victory of good over the evil. In the Hindu mythology, there once lived a King Hiranyakashipu was a granted 5 special power:
- He could be killed by neither a human being nor an animal.
- He could not be killed neither indoors nor outdoors,
- Neither at day nor at night,
- Neither by astra(projectile weapons) nor by any shastra (handheld weapons), and
- Neither on land nor in water or air.
Hiranyakashipu grew arrogant, thought he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him who wanted everyone in his kingdom to warship him.
His own son Prahlad, a devote worshiper of Lord Vishnu however disagreed with him. This angered the king and demanded that his son be killed. The king asked his evil sister Holika for help; where devised a plan by tricking Prahlad sitting on a pyre with her. In their plan she would wear a cloak which stopped her from being harmed by fire and take Prahlad into a bonfire with her. However the cloak flew from Holika’s shoulders while she was in the fire and covered Prahlad; he was protected but she burnt to death.
Vishnu, the god who appears as an avtar to restore Dharma in Hindu beliefs, took the form of Narasihma half human and half lion, at dusk (when it was neither day nor night), took Hiranyakashyapu at a doorstep (which was neither indoors nor outdoors), placed him on his lap (which was neither land, water nor air), and then eviscerated and killed the king with his lion claws (which were neither a handheld weapon nor a launched weapon).
The Holika bonfire and Holi signifies the celebration of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika.
How is Holi Celebrated in Nepal
Hoi is celebrated with is a huge enthusiasm both in Nepal and India. In Nepal, Holi is the national festival. It is celebrated by both Hindus and Buddhist. Traditionally people of all ages, men, women and children walk through street greeting each other by throwing various coloured powder. Another popular way of celebrating Holi is by spraying coloured water or throwing tiny balloons filled with coloured water. Traditionally, people were drenched with turmeric and flower extracts, as well as sandalwood paste as a way to apply water colours.
People usually congregate in open avenues like public parks and ground where traditional music is played and where the gathering dance to traditional as well as popular Nepali numbers. On the day of Holi, friends and family exchange a verity of confectioneries in decorated colourful plates. Many people mix ‘Bhang’ in their drinks and food. It is believed that the combination of different colours at this festival takes all sorrow away and makes life itself more colourful.