Reflections in celebrating Holi


courtesy of Aarna Kirankumar Desai

(*photo taken four years ago) Drenched in colored water, kids are busy refilling and getting ready for another round of color blasting during Holi. Others move the other way for snacks like Gujiya, a type of sweet deep-fried dumpling.

Aarna Desai

I have celebrated Holi (Ho-Li) every year since I was five. It has always been one of my favorite festivals. Holi is the Hindu festival of colors. It is one of the major Hindu festivals of India. It is celebrated in South Asian countries, mostly in India and Nepal. The festival is celebrated for two to five days in the spring. Hindus believe that spring is full of colors so they throw colored water on each other.

Holi is based on a legend about King Hiranyakashyap (Hee-run-ya-kush-yup). His son, Prahlad (Pruh-laad) was the greatest devotee of Lord Vishnu (vish-noo). Hiranyakashyap wanted to kill his son because he wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him, so Hiranyakshyap invited his sister, Holika (Holi-kaa). She had a robe that had the power to save the wearer from burning in fire. Hiranyakashyap ordered his sister to sit on a burning fire along with Prahlad. He thought that his sister would not be harmed by the fire because of the magic robe and Prahlad would be burnt to death. But the result was the opposite to what the evil demon king planned, Holika died and Prahlad came out safely. We believe that is because he kept praying to Lord Vishnu and he got protection. Thus, we celebrate Holi with colors to mark the victory of virtue and goodness over evil. 

The festival is usually celebrated for five days, it depends on each family. The fifth day, Rang Panchami (Rung-punch-me), marks the closing day of the Holi festival. People are seen with different varieties of colors on Holi. They put colors on each other, sing, and dance. They worship Lord Krishna (Krish-na) and put flowers on his idol. Families gather together and party the whole day. They distribute sweets and enjoy to the fullest. 

This celebration appears on different dates every year. This year it’s on March 28. I usually celebrate it with some of my friends, and family almost every year before COVID-19. We used water squirters, powdered color and water balloons. We celebrate by eating sweets, drinking lassi, and throwing powdered colors at each other.