Holi, the vibrant festival of colors, is a 2 day celebration of vigor filled with colors, dance, sweets and happiness by many across the world every year during the full moon, in the month of Falgun. It is celebrated as Chhoti Holi or Holika Dahan and then as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan.
Holi is the celebration of the victory of good over evil. It marks the onset of spring and the departure of winters and is also as thanksgiving for the good harvest. The word Holi is derived from the word ‘hola’, to offer prayers to the gods for good harvest. There are legends about the origin of Holi, these include that of Prahlāda, Krishna and Siva.
Prahlāda was born to Kayadu and Hiranyakashipu, an evil daitya king who was nearly immortal. Hiranyakashipu, did not approve of his undying devotion to Lord Vishnu. Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashipu, was blessed with a boon that fire cannot harm her. After many failed attempts to end the life of his own son, Holika is made to sit on a pyre with Prahlāda on her lap. Prahlāda prays to Lord Vishnu to protect him. Holika burns to death as Prahlāda is left unscathed.
Krishna is known for his playfulness and mischievousness. Krishna was extremely jealous of his beloved Radha's fair complexion. One day, Krishna complained to Yashoda, his mother about the injustice where the complexion of Radha was so fair and him so dark. To pacify Krishna, the doting mother asked him to go and apply the color of his desire on Radha’s face. Being mischievous as ever, naughty Krishna heeded the advice of mother and applied color on Radha's face; making her almost like him in color.
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Siva became estranged from the world after the loss of his consort Sakti. The world’s balance soon crumbled in his absence. Goddess Parvati (reincarnation of Sakti), tried to win Lord Siva’s heart and wake him up from his trance but failed in all her endeavors. The celestial beings turned to Lord Kaamadeva, the god of love and passion for help. Kaamadeva well aware of the consequences struck Lord Siva with an arrow while he was meditating. Lord Siva in rage opened his third eye, and Kaamadeva was reduced to ashes. Later, Lord Shiva granted Kamadev immortality in an invisible form. It is believed that Lord Siva burned Kaamadeva on the day of Holi. This legend also gave birth to the custom of offering sandalwood paste to Kaamadeva on Holi, to assuage the stinging burns and his favorite mango blossoms.