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Holi

29 March 2021

Holi colors by Andreas H on Flickr.com

Hindu spring festival and festival of colours.

Holi is known as the festival of colours because in India people celebrate by throwing coloured powder and coloured water at each other. Holi’s date varies each year because its timing is synchronised with the moon.

It’s a celebration of spring, new life and unity through overcoming differences, but also celebrates the Hindu legend of Prahalad and Holika. Prahalad was a prince and a devotee of the god Vishnu, refusing to worship his own father the king. Furious, the king ordered his sister, Holika, to kill him. She had magical powers that made her immune to flames, so she tricked Prahalad into sitting on her lap in a bonfire. However the trick backfired – because she was using her powers for evil they did not work. Holika was burned to ashes but Prahalad emerged unscathed. Bonfires are lit at the start of Holi, to remember this story.

During this very exuberant festival the distinctions of caste, age, gender and class are suspended, and in some cases roles are reversed. For example, in Barsana, Uttar Pradesh, the Lath Mar Holi festival features women fighting men with sticks – the men aren’t allowed to fight back!

There are some great images of Holi on the Boston Globe Big Picture website – they also have images of Lath Mar Holi.

Find out more about Holi from the following websites:

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29 March 2021
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