There was demonic king in India. His name is Hirankashap. It was known that he was an evil king and egotistic. He used to command everyone in the kingdom to worship him. He had a son named pralad, and the son did not believe you should worship kings. Pralad worshipped the real gods. So the king tried to kill his son many times, but somehow his son never died, because lord Vishnu, the one he was praying to, would save him every time. So every method to kill him was unsuccessful. The king had a sister named Holika who was immune to fire. The king told Holika to sit a fire and bring his son into it. Holika went into the fire and took Pralad into it, but Pralad kept chanting the name of lord Vishnu, and instead of Pralad, Holika burned. In the end, Pralad came out unharmed, and Vishnu was impressed with his devotion.
The festival Holi is derived from Holika’s name. Normally, the day before Holi, we have huge bonfires all over India. And in the fire we throw away all our bad luck or whatever. Like Indians believe some objects in their house bring bad luck. So they basically leave these objects in bonfire, and try to burn out their bad thoughts and other bad things in fire. Its considered a sign of burning out all the bad things in life, and the next morning we wake up realizing we burned all the bad things in our life and we are supposed to feel happy. So we go out to celebrate and we play with colors.
Context: Indian people believe in devotion. They really believe that you have to be devoted to the gods you are praying to, and only if your super devoted the gods will come down and save you. It also signifies even if your problem is really big, like your father is demon king, the gods will save you.
What are the colors do you play with?
Its started with people playing with natural colors, like a rose or something. So they actually make powders out of these flowers.
Thoughts: I have seen photos of this festival online and it looks amazing. I feel great finally understanding what would prompt over a billion people to take the streets and play with colors. It is interesting to note the contrast between the greyness of ashes left in the wake of burning negative things someone life to vibrant colors the very next day.