Celebrating Holi, the Festival of Colors
- Posted on March 24, 2021
- Estimated reading time 2 minutes
Holi is a Hindu festival that occurs every spring and is celebrated to mark the end of winter and welcome the spring season, as well as symbolize the triumph of good over evil. It falls over different days each year, as it is celebrated on the last full moon day of the Hindu calendar – this year Holi will be on March 28 and 29. The birthplace of Holi is said to be Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, Lord Krishna’s birthplace, and even though the Holi celebrations are held all over India, the most traditional celebrations are held in Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, making Holi one of my favourite festivals as a native Rajasthani.
Although there are many legends relating to Holi, the most well-known refers to Lord Krishna’s love for Radha. After being poisoned as a child by a demoness, Krishna’s skin was dark blue, and he worried that Radha would not like him because of his appearance. His mother therefore suggested that he smear some brightly colored powder on Radha’s face. After Krishna did this, Radha fell in love with him and they eventually got married.
The festival of Holi is purely about having fun with your family and friends by throwing colours at each other. Each color symbolizes something different – blue is for Krishna, green is symbolic of rebirth and new beginnings, red symbolizes matrimony and fertility, and yellow (the color of turmeric) is often used on auspicious occasions. When I celebrated Holi in India, the festivities consisted of numerous bonfires on the first day (Holika Dahan), which symbolized the burning of evil spirits. This was followed by the festival of color on the second day, where we gathered with friends and families to smear color on each other’s cheeks and foreheads.
Holi has become increasingly popular outside of India nowadays too – largely due to the millions of Indians and South Asians living all over the world. Growing up in London, although there were no bonfires, my family and I would always celebrate by smearing color on each other’s faces and enjoying a delicious homecooked meal with our close friends. Due to the pandemic, rather than having a large feast and celebrating with friends, this year my family and I will be celebrating Holi at home, still with the event of throwing color on each other. Hopefully we won’t need new furniture afterwards!
As a member of UKI’s Black Asian Minority Ethnic affinity group, I am grateful for the opportunity to share my cultural experiences with my colleagues and help make Avanade’s workplace as colourful as the festival of Holi. Happy Holi!