Indian Festival

“Most people don’t know the mythological reasons of why Holi is celebrated, and only know that it’s the “Festival of Spring.” It’s a holiday in India that takes place usually around April. And basically everyone comes out in the streets to celebrate by wearing white and then throwing colored powder/ colored water on each other, some even bring water guns, to celebrate the arrival of spring. I’ve basically been celebrating it all my life. Personally it has no religious significance. It’s like Halloween, not that religious and mostly just for fun… I don’t know if that analogy makes sense. I guess I do connect it to my childhood, but other than that it has no great significance (nothing like Christmas or Easter, or other major Indian holidays like Diwali). It’s just ridiculously fun. You guys should celebrate it at USC.”

I had the pleasure of hearing of such festivities from Rohini when she came to visit one of my close friends here, who is also Indian, during Spring Break. Though Rohini lives in Tennessee, and goes to college in Maryland, she does not neglect these Indian traditions. Since Rohini did not know the real significance or any history of the festival I went and searched for information about it online, where I came across the site. This site was made in order to educate people about Holi festivals as well as other traditions that follow with the Holi festival such as recipes and other festivals. The fact that there exists an online website for the festival, along with Rohini’s explanation that it is celebrated for enjoyment mostly and that teens do not really know the background of it, makes me think that this festival has become very popular around the world and perhaps much more commercialized than originally intended. According to the website the Holi Festival was originally named Holika and has a religious aspect to it. The site supports my first impression that said the festival has changed in meaning over the years and apparently in the early years it was “special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was worshiped.” To add to this folk festival, there are several folk legends as to why this festival is celebrated, the official site speaks of one legend in particular, the legend of Hiranyakashyap; “Hiranyakashyap wanted everybody in his kingdom to worship only him but to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana. Hiaranyakashyap commanded his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. Holika had a boon whereby she could enter fire without any damage on herself. However, she was not aware that the boon worked only when she enters the fire alone. As a result she paid a price for her sinister desires, while Prahlad was saved by the grace of the god for his extreme devotion. The festival, therefore, celebrates the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion.”

Although the site does present this historical and mythological context, it also shows the modernization by not only using the internet as a tool of education, but also due to the links found on the page that include “Holi SMS” and “Holi Gifts”, that latter one also suggesting the commercialization of the festival nowadays.

Holi Festivals are extremely known and popular and can be found all around the world, in Bangladesh, Guyana, Mauritius, Nepal, Pakistan, South Africa, Surinam, Trinidad and Tobago, the UK and of course in the USA.[1]

[1] Society for the Confluence of Festivals in India. “Holi Around the World,Holi Celebrations Around the World.” Holi – Holi Day,Holi 2012,Holi Festival India. Web. 23 Apr. 2011. <>