Holika Dahan

Holika Dahan

"Basanta Utsav" redirects here. For the film, see Basanta Utsav (film). For the Japanese singer also known as Holi, see Akiko Kobayashi (singer).
Holi
Festival of Colours
File:Group playing Holi.jpg
Group pose for a photo at a Holi celebration in Vashi, Navi Mumbai, India.
Type Hindu
Celebrations The night before Holi: Bonfire
On Holi: spray colors on others, dance, party; eat festival delicacies[1]
Begins Phalgun Purnima or Pooranmashi (Full Moon)
Date February–March
2013 date
2014 date
2015 date
2016 date
Related to Songkran (Thailand)
An article related to
Hinduism
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Holi (English pronunciation: /ˈhl/)(Sanskrit: होली) is a spring festival also known as festival of colors, and sometimes festival of love.[2][3] It is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as people of other communities.[4]

It is primarily observed in India, Nepal, and other regions of the world with significant populations of minority Hindus or people of Indian origin. The festival has, in recent times, spread in parts of Europe and North Americas as a spring celebration of love, frolic and colors.[5][6][7]

Holi celebrations start with a Holika bonfire on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance. The next morning is free for all carnival of colors,[4] where everyone plays, chases and colors each other with dry powder and colored water, with some carrying water guns and colored water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. The frolic and fight with colors occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People move and visit family, friends and foes, first play with colors on each other, laugh and chit chat, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up, visit friends and family.[1][8] It is a national holiday in India.

Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox,[4] on the Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon). The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian Calendar. The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.[9][10][4]

Significance

There is a symbolic legend to explain why holi is celebrated. The word "Holi" originates from "Holika", the evil sister of demon king Hiranyakashipu. King Hiranyakashipu had earned a boon that made him virtually indestructible. The special powers blinded him, he grew arrogant, felt he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him.[1]

Hiranyakashipu's own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed. He was and remained devoted to Vishnu.[8] This infuriated Hiranyakashipu. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right. Finally, Holika - Prahlada's evil aunt - tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her.[1] Holika was wearing a cloak (shawl) that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada wasn't. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada.[8] Holika burned, Prahlada survived. Vishnu appeared and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, of fire that burned Holika.[9] The day after Holika bonfire is celebrated as Holi.

Holi festival has other cultural significance. It is the festive day to end and rid oneself of past errors, end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as deal anew with those in their lives. Holi also marks the start of spring, and for many the start of new year.[9][11]

In Mathura, where Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi) in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna, a Hindu deity. The festivities officially usher in spring, with Holi celebrated as festival of love.[12]

Description

Holi is an important festival to Hindus. It is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March.

The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. In 17th century literature, it was identified as a festival that celebrated agriculture, commemorated good spring harvests and the fertile land.[4] Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring's abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. Holi festivities mark the beginning of new year to many Hindus, as well as a justification to reset and renew ruptured relationships, end conflicts and accumulated emotional impurities from past.[9][11]

It also has a religious purpose, symbolically signified by the legend of Holika. The night before Holi, bonfires are lit, known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Little Holi. People gather near fires, dance and sing. The next day, Holi, also known as Dhuli in Sanskrit, or Dhulheti, Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is celebrated. Children and youth spray coloured powder solutions (Gulal) at each other, laugh and celebrate, while elders tend to smear dry coloured powder (Abir) on each other's face.[1][11] Visitors to homes are first teased with colors, then served with Holi delicacies, desserts and drinks.[13] After playing with colors, and cleaning up, people bathe, put on clean clothes, visit friends and family.[9]

Like Holika Dahan, Kama Dahanam is celebrated in some parts of India. Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colours.

Though there have been references in Sanskrit texts to similar festivals, like ratnavali where people sprayed coloured waters using bamboo syringes, the origin of the modern Holi festival has been traced to ancient Bengal. It was a Gaudiya Vaishnav festival, in accordance to Vaishnaviya Tantra. People went to Krishna temples, applied red colour to the icon and then distributed the red-coloured powder or Abir along with malpua prasad to family and friends. Red signified passion and Lord Krishna is the king of desires. The ritual signified that all our desires should be diverted for the attainment of Krishna and for the wellbeing of society.

History and rituals

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival with its cultural rituals. It is mentioned in the Puranas, Dasakumara Charita, and by the poet Kālidāsa during the 4th century reign of Chandragupta II.[2] The celebration of Holi is also mentioned in the 7th-century Sanskrit drama, Ratnavali.[14] The festival of Holi caught the fascination of European traders and British colonial staff by the 17th century. Various old editions of Oxford English Dictionary mention it, but with varying, phonetically-drived spellings: Houly (1687), Hooly (1698), Huli (1789), Hohlee (1809), Hoolee (1825) and Holi in editions published after 1910.[4]

There are several cultural rituals associated with Holi:[15]

Prepare Holika pyre for bonfire

Days before the festival people start gathering wood and combustible materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is an effigy to signify Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. Inside homes, people stock up on color pigments, food, party drinks and festive seasonal foods such as gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other regional delicacies.

Holika dahan

On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the pyre is lit, signifying Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People sing and dance around the fire.[9]

Play with colors

Holi frolic and celebrations begin the morning after Holika bonfire. There is no tradition of holding puja (prayer), and the day is for partying and pure enjoyment. Children and youth groups form armed with dry colors, colored solution, means to fill and spray others with colored solution (pichkaris), balloons that can hold colored water, and other creative means to color their targets.[15]


Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colors such as turmeric, neem, dhak, kumkum were used; but water-based commercial pigments are increasingly used. All colors are used. Everyone in open areas such as streets and parks are game. Inside homes or at doorways though, only dry powder is used to smear each others face. People throw colors, and get their targets completely colored up. It is like a water fight, but where the water is colored. People take delight in spraying colored water on each other. By late morning, everyone looks like a canvas of colors. This is why Holi is given the name “Festival of Colours.”

Groups sing and dance, some playing drums and dholak. After each stop of fun and play with colors, people offer gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other traditional delicacies.[17] Chilled drinks, including adult drinks based on local intoxicating herbs, is also part of the Holi festivity.

Other variations

In Braj region around Mathura, in north India, the festivities may last more than week. The rituals go beyond playing with colors, and include a day where men go around with shields and women have the right to playfully beat them on their shields with sticks.[18]

In south India, some worship and make offerings to Kaamadeva, the love god of Indian mythology, on Holi.

The party after

After a day of play with colors, people clean up, wash and bathe, sober and dress up in the evening and greet friends and relatives by visiting them and exchange sweets. Holi is also a festival of forgiveness and new starts, which ritually aims to generate harmony in the society.[15]

Regional names, rituals and celebrations

Holi (Hindi: होली, Nepali: होली, Punjabi: ਹੋਲੀ is also known as Phagwah (Assamese: ফাকুৱা), Festival of Colours, or Doḷajātra (Oriya: ଦୋଳଯାତ୍ରା) in Odisha, and as Dol Jatra (Bengali: দোলযাত্রা) or Basantotsav ("spring festival") (Bengali: বসন্তোৎসব) in West Bengal and Assam. The customs and celebrations vary between regions of India.

Holi is of particular significance in the Braj region, which includes locations traditionally connected to the Lord Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandgaon, Uttar Pradesh, and Barsana, which become tourist destinations during the season of Holi.[12]

Outside India, Holi is observed by the minority Hindus in Bangladesh, Pakistan as well in countries with large Indian subcontinent diaspora populations such as Suriname, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States, Mauritius, and Fiji. The Holi rituals and customs outside South Asia also vary with local adaptations.

India

Gujarat

The Holi celebration has its celebrative origins in Gujarat, particularly with dance, food, music, and coloured powder to offer a spring parallel of Navratri, Gujarat's Hindu festival celebrated in the fall. Falling in the Hindu month of Phalguna, Holi marks the agricultural season of the Rabi crop.

In Western India, Ahmedabad in Gujarat, a pot of buttermilk is hung high on the streets and young boys try to reach it and break it by making human pyramids. The girls try to stop them by throwing coloured water on them to commemorate the pranks of Krishna and cowherd boys to steal butter and "gopis" while trying to stop the girls. The boy who finally manages to break the pot is crowned the Holi King. Afterwards, the men, who are now very colourful men, go out in a large procession to "alert" people of the Krishna's possible appearance to steal butter from their homes.

In some places, there is a custom in the undivided Hindu families that the women of the families beat their brother-in-law with her sari rolled up into a rope in a mock rage as they try to drench them with colours, and in turn, the brothers-in-law bring sweets (Indian desserts) to her in the evening.[19]

Uttar Pradesh

Barsana, a town near Mathura in Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, celebrates Lath mar Holi in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple. Thousands gather to witness the Lath Mar holi when women beat up men with sticks as those on the sidelines become hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shout Sri Radhey or Sri Krishna. The Holi songs of Braj mandal are sung in pure Braj, the local language. Holi celebrated at Barsana is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with sticks. Males also sing provocative songs in a bid to invite the attention of women. Women then go on the offensive and use long staves called lathis to beat men folk who protect themselves with shields.

Mathura, in the Braj region, is the birthplace of Lord Krishna, and in Vrindavan this day is celebrated with special puja and the traditional custom of worshipping Lord Krishna, here the festival lasts for sixteen days.[12] All over the Braj region and its nearby places like Hathras, Aligarh, Agra the Holi is celebrated in more or less same way as in Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana.

Outside Braj, in Kanpur area, Holi lasts seven days with colour. On the last day, a grand fair called Ganga Mela or the Holi Mela is celebrated. This Mela (fair) was started by freedom fighters who fought British rule in the First Indian War of Independence in 1857 under the leadership of Nana Saheb. The Mela is held at various Ghats along the banks of River Ganga in Kanpur, to celebrate Hindus and the Muslims who together resisted the British forces in the city in 1857. On the eve of Ganga Mela, all Government offices, shops, Courts generally remain closed. The Ganga Mela marks the official end of "The Festival of Colours" or Holi in Kanpur.

In Gorakhpur, the northeast district of Uttar Pradesh, this day starts with a special puja in the morning of Holi day. This day is considered to be the most colourful day of the year promoting the brotherhood among the people. This is known as "Holi Milan" in which people visit every house and sing holi song and express their gratitude by applying coloured powder (Abeer). Holi is also considered as the beginning of the year as it occurs on the first day of new Hindu calendar year (Panchang).


Uttarakhand
Main article: Kumauni Holi

Kumaoni Holi in Uttarakhand includes a musical affair. It takes different forms such as the Baithki Holi, the Khari Holi and the Mahila Holi. In Baithki Holi and Khari Holi, people sing songs with a touch of melody, fun and spiritualism. These songs are essentially based on classical ragas. Baithki Holi (बैठकी होली), also known as Nirvan Ki Holi begins from the premises of temples, where Holiyars (होल्यार) sing Holi songs, people gather to participate, along with playing classical music. The songs are sung in a particular sequence depending on the time of day; for instance, at noon the songs based on Peelu, Bhimpalasi and Sarang ragas, while evening songs are based on the ragas such as Kalyan, Shyamkalyan and Yaman. The Khari Holi (खड़ी होली) is mostly celebrated in the rural areas of Kumaon. The songs of the Khari Holi are sung by the people, who, sporting traditional white churidar payajama and kurta, dance in groups to the tune of ethnic musical instruments such as the Dhol and Hurka.

In Kumaon region, the Holika pyre is known as Cheer (चीर,) which is ceremonically made in a ceremony known as Cheer Bandhan (चीर बंधन) fifteen days before Dulhendi. The Cheer is a bonfire with a green Paiya tree branch in the middle. The Cheer of every village and neighborhood is rigorously guarded as rival mohallas try to playfully steal the other's cheer.

The colors used on Holi are derived from natural sources. Dulhendi, known as Charadi (छरड़ी) (from Chharad (छरड़), is made from flower extracts, ash and water. Holi is celebrated with great gusto much in the same way as all across North India.[20]

Bihar

Holi is known as Phaguwa in the local Bhojpuri dialect. In this region as well, the legend of Holika is prevalent. On the eve of Phalgun Poornima, people light bonfires. They put dried cow dung cakes, wood of Araad or Redi tree and Holika tree, grains from the fresh harvest and unwanted wood leaves in the bonfire. At the time of Holika people assemble near the fire. The eldest member of the gathering or a purohit initiates the lighting. He then smears others with colour as a mark of greeting. Next day the festival is celebrated with colours and lot of frolic. Traditionally, people also clean their houses to mark the festival.

Children and youths take extreme delight in the festival. Though the festival is usually celebrated with colours, in some places people also enjoy celebrating Holi with water solutions of mud or clay. Folk songs are sung at high pitch and people dance to the tune of dholak and the spirit of Holi. Intoxicating bhang is consumed with a variety of mouth-watering delicacies, such as pakoras and thandai, to enhance the mood of the festival.

Vast quantities of liquor are consumed alongside bhang, which is sometimes added to foodstuffs.


Bengal

In West Bengal region, Holi is known by the name of "Dol Jatra", "Dol Purnima" or the "Swing Festival". The festival is celebrated in a dignified manner by placing the icons of Krishna and Radha on a picturesquely decorated palanquin which is then taken round the main streets of the city or the village. On the Dol Purnima day in the early morning, the students dress up in saffron-coloured or pure white clothes and wear garlands of fragrant flowers. They sing and dance to the accompaniment of musical instruments like ektara, dubri, veena, etc. The devotees take turns to swing them while women dance around the swing and sing devotional songs. During these activities, the men keep spraying coloured water and coloured powder, abir, at them.

The head of the family observes a fast and prays to Lord Krishna and Agnidev. After all the traditional rituals are over, he smears Krishna's icon with gulal and offers "bhog" to both Krishna and Agnidev. In Shantiniketan, Holi has a special musical flavour. Visitors on Holi are offered traditional dishes that include malpoa, kheer sandesh, basanti sandesh (saffron), saffron milk, payash, and related foods.

Odisha

The people of Odisha celebrate Holi as rest of India, but here the icons of Jagannath, the deity of the Jagannath Temple of Puri, replace the icons of Krishna and Radha.


Assam

Holi, also called Phakuwa (ফাকুৱা) in Assamese, is celebrated all over Assam. Locally called Dol Jatra, associated with Satras of Barpeta, Holi is celebrated over two days. On the first day, the burning of clay huts are seen in Barpeta and lower Assam which signifies the legends of Holika. On the second day of it, Holi is celebrated with colour powders. The Holi songs in chorus devoted to Lord Krishna are also sung in the regions of Barpeta.

Goa
Main article: Shigmo

Holi is a part of Goan or Konkani spring festival known as Śigmo or शिगमो in Koṅkaṇī or Śiśirotsava and lasts for about a month. The colour festival or Holi is a part of longer, more extensive spring festival celebrations.[21] Holi festivities (but not Śigmo festivities) include: Holika Puja and Dahan,Dhulvad or Dhuli vandan,Haldune or offering yellow and saffron colour or Gulal to the deity.

Maharashtra

In Maharashtra, Holi Purnima is also celebrated as Shimga, festivities that last 5 to 7 days. A week before the festival, youngsters go around the community, collecting firewood and money. On the day of Shimga, the firewood is a huge pile in neighborhoods. In the evening, the fire is lit. Every household brings a meal and dessert, in the honor of the fire god. Puran Poli is the main delicacy and children shout "Holi re Holi puranachi poli". Shimga celebrates the elimination of all evil. The colour celebrations here traditionally take place on the day of Rangapanchami, five days after Shimga. During this festival, people are supposed to forget and forgive any rivalries and start new healthy relations with all.


Manipur

Manipuris celebrate Holi for 6 days. Here, this holiday merges with the festival of Yaosang. Traditionally, the festival commences with the burning of a thatched hut of hay and twigs. Young children go from house to house to collect money, locally known as nakadeng (or nakatheng), as gifts on the first two days. The youths at night perform a group folk dance called Thabal chongba on the full moon night of Lamta (Phalgun) along with folk songs and rhythmic beats of the indigenous drum. However, this moonlight party now has modern bands and fluorescent lamps. In Krishna temples, devotees sing devotional songs, perform dances and celebrate with aber (gulal) wearing traditional white and yellow turbans. On the last day of the festival, large processions are taken out to the main Krishna temple near Imphal where several cultural activities are held. In recent decades, Yaoshang, a type of Indian sport, has become common in many places of the valley, where people of all ages come out to participate in a number of sports that are somewhat altered for the holiday.

Kerala

Holi is locally called Ukkuli in Konkani or Manjal Kuli in Malayalam. It is celebrated around the Konkani temple called Gosripuram Thirumala temple. Holi is also celebrated at some colleges in south.

Karnataka

Traditionally, in rural Karnataka children collect money and wood for weeks prior to Holi, and on Kamadhana night all the wood is put together and lit. The festival is celebrated for two days. People in north Karnataka prepare special food on this day.


In Sirsi, Karnataka, Holi is celebrated with a unique folk dance called “Bedara Vesha”, which is performed during the nights beginning five days before the actual festival day. The festival is celebrated every alternate year in the town, which attracts a large number of tourists from different parts of the India.[22]

Andhra Pradesh

As in other parts of India, in rural Telangana region, children celebrate kamuda and collect money, rice, Mokkajonna and wood for weeks prior to Holi, and on Kamadhana night all the wood is put together and set on fire. In Andhra Pradesh Holi is celebrated along with Basanta Panchami. Holi is a major festival, and the festivities and colour start appearing at least a day before the actual holiday.

Jammu & Kashmir

In Jammu & Kashmir, Muslims and Hindus alike celebrate Holi. Holi celebrations here are much in line with the general definition of Holi celebrations: a high-spirited festival to mark the beginning of the harvesting of the summer crop, with the throwing of coloured water and powder and singing and dancing.

Madhya Pradesh

In western Madhya Pradesh, Bhil tribesmen who have held on to many of the pre-Hindu customs celebrate it in a special way.[further explanation needed]

Haryana and Western Uttar Pradesh

This region has its own variety of Holi.[further explanation needed] The Holi celebration in Dhampur is famous throughout the whole of Western UP.

Tamil nadu

In the Phalguna Poornima is Panguni Uthram (Meena Uttara-phalguni in Sanskrit). It is special because of the star "Uthiram" and "Pournami" occurring together, is the marriage anniversary of many mythological figures and deities. On this day Goddess Mahalakshmi incarnated on earth from the ocean of milk (after the ocean was churned by the gods and the demons). Holi is celebrated as Vasanthosavam and all temples start their Utsavams with decorations and music, dance festivals, Pravachans and Harikathas. The colours are also popular, and celebrate divine love and welcoming of spring.

Nepal

In Nepal, Holi celebrated in Hills is remarkably different from Madhesh, even the festival is celebrated on two different days. Holi is celebrated in the month of Falgun and is also called as the "Fagu/Phaguwa" and is celebrated on the full moon day (in hills) and the day after (in Madhesh) in the month of February. The word "Fagu/Phaguwa" (Devanagari:फागु/फगुआ) represents the month of Falgun and the day is called the "Fagu Poornima" (Devanagari:फागु पुर्णीमा) which means (full moon day in the Falgun).

In Nepal Holi is regarded as one of the greatest festivals as important as Dashain (also known as Dussehra in Madhesh) and Tihar or Dipawali (also known as Diwali in Madhesh). Since more than 80% of people in Nepal are Hindus,[23] Holi, along with many other Hindu festivals, is celebrated in Nepal as a national festival and almost everyone celebrates it regardless of their religion, e.g., even Muslims celebrate it. Christians may also join in, although since Holi falls during Lent, many would not join in the festivities. The day of Holi is also a national holiday in Nepal.

People walk down their neighbourhoods to celebrate Holi by exchanging colours and spraying coloured water on one another. A popular activity is the throwing of water balloons at one another, sometimes called lola (meaning water balloon).[24] Also a lot of people mix bhang in their drinks and food, as is also done during Shivaratri. It is believed that the combination of different colours at this festival take all the sorrow away and make life itself more colourful.


Indian diaspora

Over the years, Holi has become an important festival in many regions wherever Indian diaspora were either taken as indentured laborers during colonial era, or where they emigrated on their own, and are now present in large numbers such as Africa, North America, Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia such as Fiji.[25][26][27][28]

Suriname

Holi is a national holiday in Suriname. It is called Phagwa festival, and is celebrated to mark the beginning of spring and Hindu mythology. In Suriname, Holi Phagwa is a festival of color. It is customary to wear old white clothes on this day, be prepared to get them dirty and join in the color throwing excitement and party.[29][30]

Trinidad and Tobago

Phagwa is normally celebrated in Trinidad and Tobago on the Sunday closest to the actual date of Phagwa. It is celebrated with a lot of colour and splendour, along with the singing on traditional Phagwa songs or Chowtaal (ganna).

Guyana

Phagwah is a national holiday in Guyana, and peoples of all races and religions participate in the celebrations.[31] The main celebration in Georgetown is held at the Mandir in Prashad Nagar.[32]

Fiji

Indo-Fijians celebrate Holi as festival of colours, folksongs and dances. The folksongs sung in Fiji during Holi season are called phaag gaaian. Phagan, also written as Phalgan, is the last month of the Hindu calendar. Holi is celebrated at the end of Phagan. Holi marks the advent of spring and ripening of crops in Northern India. Not only it is a season of romance and excitement, folk songs and dances, it is also an occasion of playing with powder, perfumes and colours. Many of the Holi songs in Fiji are around the theme of love-relationship between Radha and Krishna.[33]

Mauritius

Holi in Mauritius comes close on the heels of Shivaratri. It celebrates the beginning of spring, commemorating good harvests and the fertile land. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring’s abundant colours and saying farewell to winter. It is considered one of the most exhilarating religious holidays in existence. During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw coloured powder at each other, and celebrate wildly.[34]

Traditional Holi

The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to cause viral fever and cold. The playful throwing of natural coloured powders has a medicinal significance: the colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Āyurvedic doctors.

Many colors are obtained by mixing primary colors. Artisans produce and sell many of the colors from natural sources in dry powder form, in weeks and months preceding Holi. Some of the traditional natural plant based sources of colors are:[4][35][36]

Orange and red

The flowers of palash or tesu tree, also called the flame of the forest, are typical source of bright red and deep orange colors. Powdered fragrant red sandal wood, dried hibiscus flowers, madder tree, radish and pomegranate are alternate sources and shades of red. Mixing lime with turmeric powder creates an alternate source of orange powder, as does boiling saffron (kesar) in water.

Green

Mehendi and dried leaves of gulmohur tree offer a source of green color. In some areas, the leaves of spring crops and herbs have been used as source of green pigment.

Yellow

Haldi (turmeric) powder is the typical source of yellow color. Sometimes this is mixed with chickpeas, gram or other flour to get the right shade. Bael fruit, amaltas, species of chrysanthemums, and species of marigold are alternate sources of yellow.

Blue

Indigo, Indian berries, species of grapes, blue hibiscus and jacaranda flowers are traditional sources of blue color for Holi.

Magenta and purple

Beetroot is the traditional source of magenta and purple color. Often these are directly boiled in water to prepare colored water.

Brown

Dried tea leaves offer a source of brown colored water. Certain clays are alternate source of brown.

Black

Species of grapes, fruits of amla (gooseberry) and vegetable carbon (charcoal) offer gray to black colors.

Modern issues

Synthetic colours

Natural colours were used in the past to celebrate Holi safely by applying turmeric, sandalwood paste, extracts of flowers and leaves. As the spring-blossoming trees that once supplied the colours used to celebrate Holi have become more rare, chemically produced industrial dyes have been used to take their place in almost all of urban India. Due to the commercial availability of attractive pigments, slowly the natural colours are replaced by synthetic colours. As a result it has caused mild to severe symptoms of skin irritation and inflammation. Lack of control over the quality and content of these colours is a problem, as they are frequently sold by vendors who do not know their origin.

In 2001, a fact sheet was published by the groups Toxics Link and Vatavaran based in Delhi on the chemical dyes used in the festival.[37] They found safety issues with all three forms in which the Holi colours are produced: pastes, dry colours and water colours.

Their investigation found some toxic chemicals with some potentially severe health impacts. The synthetic colors used in Holi have been found to include industrial powders that are toxic, can cause asthma, temporary blindness and skin cancer.[38]

The wet colours might lead to skin discolouration and dermatitis due to their use of colour concentrate gentian violet. Malachite green, another synthetic bluish-green dye, has been documented to be responsible in Holi festival for severe eye irritation in Delhi, if eyes are not washed upon exposure. Though the study found that the pigment did not penetrate through the cornea, malachite green is of concern and needs further study.[39]

These reports have galvanized a number of groups into promoting more natural celebrations of Holi. Development Alternatives, Delhi and Kalpavriksh,[40] Pune, The CLEAN India campaign[41] and Society for Child Development, through its Avacayam Cooperative Campaign[42] have launched campaigns to help children learn to make their own colours for Holi from safer, natural ingredients. Meanwhile, some commercial companies such as the National Botanical Research Institute have begun to market "herbal" dyes, though these are substantially more expensive than the dangerous alternatives. However, it may be noted that many parts of rural India have always resorted to natural colours (and other parts of festivities more than colours) due to availability. In urban areas, some people wear nose mask and sun glasses to avoid inhaling pigments and to prevent chemical exposure to eyes.[43]

Environmental impact

An alleged environmental issue related to the celebration of Holi is the traditional Holika Dahan bonfire, which is believed to contribute to deforestation. A local tabloid had a view published that 30,000 bonfires each burning approximately 100 kg of wood are lit in one season.[44] Several methods of preventing this consumption of wood have been proposed, including the replacement of wood with waste material or lighting of a single fire per community, rather than multiple smaller fires. However, the idea of lighting waste material antagonizes large sections of a certain community, who take it as an attack to their cultures and traditions citing several examples of similar festivities elsewhere. There is also concern about the large scale wastage of water and water-pollution due to synthetic colours during Holi celebration.

Influence on other cultures

Holi celebrations in other cultures
Holi festival is increasingly celebrated outside India, in many parts of the world.

The Color Run, Run or Dye, Color in Motion, Color Me Rad, The Graffiti Run, and other fun runs are starting to spread over the United States. They combine the bright colours of Holi with the intensity of a 5K race. Runners show up wearing white running outfits and every kilometer they run, they are doused in a different colour.

In the music video for their song "The Catalyst," American rock band Linkin Park incorporated scenes of band members throwing powdered colour at one another. The director, band turntablist Joe Hahn, identifies Holi as a direct influence on the visual style of the video.[45] Hahn states that "... the inspiration for the colors came from the Color Festival in India called Holi." He further elaborates on the religious significance of the colours: "People collect these pigments throughout the year to release them in this festival as a celebration of life and tribute to Vishnu."[45]

South Africa-based electro-swing dance group Goodluck released a song "The Vision" wherein Holi is seen as an influence.

The Holi festival was featured as a RoadBlock challenge in the popular CBS reality television show The Amazing Race 13, episode 7.

The Ke$ha music video for the song "Take It Off" features powdered coloured dyes similar to those used to celebrate Holi.[46]

The music video for Regina Spektor's song "Fidelity" depicts a couple in an achromatic set throwing and celebrating in powdered pigments.[47]

The 2006 independent film Outsourced details the story of Todd Anderson, an American call center novelty products salesman (Josh Hamilton) as he heads to India to train his replacement after his entire department is outsourced to a new, much cheaper call center in Gharapuri. Todd soon discovers that to successfully train his new charges, he must learn about their culture. A Holi celebration is the catalyst for this change in his attitude.[48]

On September 18, 2009, in an episode of the USA Network series Psych entitled "Bollywood Homicide," Holi is first depicted on an American network television.[49] Shawn is distracted by someone throwing red powder at him.

The March 17, 2011 episode of the NBC series based on the film of the same name, Outsourced, titled "Todd's Holi War," takes a more sitcom-oriented approach to the holiday, marking Holi's second appearance on American network television.

The music video Behind the Cow, which appears to be set in India, by the band Scooter features a final scene with everyone throwing coloured powder at one another.

In the British TV show An Idiot Abroad, episode 2 has host Karl Pilkington take a trip through Dehli, India where he experiences Holi as locals cover him with coloured powder and paint.[50]

Keith Olbermann shows clips from Holi festivals every year on the "Time Marches On" portion of his nightly Countdown news show.

Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah celebrates Holi and is known as Festival of Color, where thousands of people gather from all over the country.

The music video for the song "The City" by French DJ Madeon centres on a full-out colour war between two factions of youngsters. In it, the powders are packed in plastic bags for a longer throw.[51]

See also

References

External links

  • DMOZ
  • Holi
  • 27 Big and Colorful Photos of Holi
  • The unique spring festivals in India