Holi is also known as “Holaka” & “Phagwa”. It is also deemed the “Festival of Colours.” It symbolizes the start of spring & acknowledges the harvest. It falls on the full moon day of “Phalguna.” This usually takes place in February or March & is held in the northern part of India, especially. The method of celebration varies according to region. For example, there are bonfires in some areas; in other areas, such as in Bengal, there are swings dedicated to the god, Krishna.
The bonfire ritual is of great significance as it represents the burning of the demoness Holika. Holika was a demoness, who was a sister to the demon king, Hiryanyakashipu. He wanted her to kill his son, Prahlada, for not loving him more than the god Vishnu. Everyone thought that the demoness, Holika, was not affected by fire even if she burned in it.
She thus conspired to persuade Prahlada to join her in a heap of fire. Consequentially, the unexpected happened. Prahlada was unaffected but Holika burned completely. This was due to the god, Vishnu.
As a result, one form of celebration is to make a bonfire. Its aim is to convey the victory of virtue over badness & to eliminate the devilish spirits in the air. Furthermore, items associated to the illness & bad things of the past year are thrown into the bonfire. The timing is appropriate as the Hindu New Year follows after Holi. Therefore, Holi serves as a preface to a promising New Year (in Hinduism) that follows soon after it.
Especially in the areas from Bombay to Goa, there is a dance carried out by those who have ancestors as martyrs in the wars. This is in honor of them. They hold a sword & dance until they feel the ancestors’ spirits in them.
The common & most popular form of celebration is the throwing of color on each other. Once that is done, everyone showers, dresses up, visits friends & relatives. This tradition surfaced when the god, Krishna, chose not to believe in discrimination according to colour & Radha joined or conceded. One does have to confirm that the components of the colours used are safe.
Other ways of celebration include singing & offering of roasted food.
The effect of Holi is very constructive to society. It is a time when everyone puts aside their differences & tries to mingle with one another. For example, the hierarchy of castes is overlooked & an accord is made with both money dealings & between people. There is no bias in age or gender also. It is all about celebrating & promoting congruence among the population. This only yields to peace, prohibiting wrongful prejudice.