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Festivals of India

Other Festivals

Holi is one of the famous festivals of India that is mainly celebrated in the northern part of India during the month of February or March. Holi is also known as the festival of colors, as colors are an integral part of Holi celebration. Know more about Holi Information

There are several legends that are associated with Holi and thereby state reasons for performing Holi rituals and traditions. Holi is celebrated for two days where on the first day Holi bonfire is a part of Holi celebrations, as a very famous legend of Holika And Prahlad is associated with it. It is said that the burning of Holika is celebrated as a victory of good over evil. The next day of Holi is celebrated with colors (Gulal) when people throw color and water on each other wishing each other a very Happy Holi. Holi marks an end to the winter season and start for the spring season.

History of Holi : Holi is an ancient festival of India and was originally known as 'Holika'. The festivals finds a detailed description in early religious works such as Jaimini's Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutras. Historians also believe that Holi was celebrated by all Aryans but more so in the Eastern part of India.

It is said that Holi existed several centuries before Christ. However, the meaning of the festival is believed to have changed over the years. Earlier it was a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was worshiped.

Calculating the Day of Holi : There are two ways of reckoning a lunar month- 'purnimanta' and 'amanta'. In the former, the first day starts after the full moon; and in the latter, after the new moon. Though the amanta reckoning is more common now, the purnimanta was very much in vogue in the earlier days.

According to this purnimanta reckoning, Phalguna purnima was the last day of the year and the new year heralding the Vasanta-ritu (with spring starting from next day). Thus the full moon festival of Holika gradually became a festival of merrymaking, announcing the commencement of the spring season. This perhaps explains the other names of this festival - Vasanta-Mahotsava and Kama-Mahotsava.

Reference in Ancient Texts and Inscriptions
Besides having a detailed description in the Vedas and Puranas such as Narad Purana and Bhavishya Purana, the festival of Holi finds a mention in Jaimini Mimansa. A stone incription belonging to 300 BC found at Ramgarh in the province of Vindhya has mention of Holikotsav on it. King Harsha, too has mentioned about holikotsav in his work Ratnavali that was written during the 7th century.

The famous Muslim tourist - Ulbaruni too has mentioned about holikotsav in his historical memories. Other Muslim writers of that period have mentioned, that holikotsav were not only celebrated by the Hindus but also by the Muslims.



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