Holi – the festival of colors is one of the most exciting festivals in Nepal. It is celebrated with immense joy and excitement in many other South-Asian countries as well. The colorful festival also represents a farewell to winter and welcomes the spring season. Holi is celebrated on the full-moon day in the month of Falgun (Chaitra, sometimes). That is why Holi is also known as Fagu Purnima in Nepal. This year, Holi marks the calendar on 17th March (3rd Chaitra).
HOLI: THE FESTIVAL OF COLORS – CELEBRATION
The celebration of Holi in Nepal begins around a week before the main festival day. There is a tradition of erecting a long bamboo stick called lingo covered with pieces of different color cloths called Chir in Basantapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu by the locals. The lingo erects there for a whole week as it is the main symbol of the colorful festival – Holi. On the eve of Holi, the lingo is taken down and the Chir is burnt. The event is known as Chir Haran or Holika Dahan.
The festival of colors begins with the night before Holi with bonfires on the city streets. The fire is lit to celebrate the death of Holika, a demoness who, according to the Hindu mythology, was burnt to death in a bonfire with the help of Lord Krishna. The bonfire on the night before the colorful festival signifies the victory of good over evil.
Other than the bonfires, Holi is celebrated with colors, water, sweets, and music. Individuals stroll through their neighborhoods to observe Holi by trading hues and showering shaded water on each other. People put color on each other as a token of love and celebrate Holi with immense happiness.
If you happen to go out on streets of the valley on Holi, chances are you’ll be pelted with Lolas – small water balloons, especially by the kids. Unlike many of the other Hindu festivals, there are no religious requirements or prayers and it’s a day set aside purely for fun. People consume bhang, which is generally mixed with Lassi (a yogurt-based drink). The day is filled with lots of color and water splashing on each other, sweets, bhang, music and happiness all around the country.
STORIES BEHIND HOLI CELEBRATION
There are many stories as to why we celebrate Holi. I have compiled two of the very famous stories about the festival of colors below.
The first one is about Lord Krishna and Radha. Lord Krishna was once repeatedly complaining to his mother about his Gopinis teasing him for being dark-skinned. He asked his mother why he was so dark when all of his other friends were fair. Then, as a solution, his mother handed Krishna different colors and asked him to throw it on his friends’ faces, and this would make them all look the same kind. Lord Krishna did exactly as his mother told him to. All of the Gopinis enjoyed playing with color and ever since that event, Holi was celebrated to remember that day.
The second story is the most popular one among these two. It is about the death of a demoness, Holika. Once there was a demon named Hiranyakasyapu who started thinking that he was the only Lord in the entire universe and wanted everyone to worship him only. However, his son, Praladh was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. His father tried his best to convince him to worship Hiranyakasyapu but failed miserably. Hiranyakasyapu then planned to kill Praladh and ordered his sister, Holika to kill him. Holika was blessed with a fire-proof dress. Therefore, she went to flame carrying Praladh. However, due to the immense devotion of Praladh towards Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna burnt down Holika and safely rescued Praladh. Since that day, Holi was celebrated as Holika Dahan – the end of Holika and her evil deeds.
THE DARK SIDE OF HOLI
Holi undoubtedly is a very fun festival to celebrate, however, it also carries a bad side along with it. Like anywhere in the world where there’s a celebration, there are always a few people who will grumble and groan. Not everyone wants to be pelted with water or covered in colors. And some people just don’t get it and force those who don’t want to play Holi to join them. This, then, leads to a very chaotic situation.
There is news every year of people getting arrested for targeting women with dirty water. Not that everyone playing Holi has bad intentions, but there sure are people like that. So, let’s not forget that Holi is meant to be a joyous one, not a targeted campaign. If someone does not want to play or celebrate the festival, forcing them is the worst one could do.
The festival of colors is coming near and it’s already time that you gear up for Holi. If you want to feel the real excitement of this festival, we suggest you visit Basantapur Durbar Square on the day of Holi. There will be a number of people celebrating the festival with extreme excitement and jolliness.
Happy Holi to all our readers from the entire family of NepalBuzz! Enjoy the festival with fun, love and most importantly, safely.