Millions of Hindus around the world celebrate the festival of Holi, as it is a national holiday in India and Nepal. You may recognize this celebratory tradition from visions of bright colors being thrown around — much like a water balloon fight, but with colored water and powder. Popular events around the United States, like The Color Run, seem to have taken some inspiration from Holi.
So what is Holi? There are many variations, but here is a brief overview.
Holi is an ancient tradition celebrating Radha Krishna, which is the Hindu god and goddess of love. Legend states Krishna playfully smudged Radha with colors, which marked their romantic relationship.
It is a festival welcoming spring and saying goodbye to winter, also known as a festival of love. Holi is celebrated on the last full moon day of the Hindu calendar month.
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As the festival brings hope for a successful spring harvest season, it also celebrates love and forgiveness. People play and laugh, eat and drink, forgive, and forget.
The ritual starts on the eve of Holi, where people gather and pray around a bonfire. The bonfire represents the victory of good over evil. There is also singing and dancing into the night.
On the day of Holi is when those bold colors come out. Traditionally these colors were made from organic materials, many of which have medicinal significance from Ayurvedic medicine. Dry colors, as well as colored water filled in water guns and balloons are used to spray their friends, family, and strangers. People smear colors on each other’s faces. Drums are played and there is more singing and dancing. Traditional desserts are shared, such as mathri and malpuas, as well as some adult beverages.
How Can I Celebrate with My Family?
Whatever your beliefs, we can all agree that celebrating love and throwing colors around sounds absolutely fun and joyful. Running around the backyard with water balloons filled with colors would be a perfect way to celebrate. Here are a few more activities you may want to try!
Create a colorful painting :: Finger painting or painting with a toothbrush would be great for younger kids. Older kids can do some Pollock-esque painting by flinging paint or, for the more advanced, do acrylic paint pouring.
Make a Holi shirt :: Welcoming the spring season by tie-dying a few T-shirts is a wonderful warm weather activity for all ages.
Send cards to loved ones :: What is more thoughtful than a handmade card? Everyone loves getting surprise snail mail. Have the kids get creative and of course, use plenty of color!
Produce your own colors :: Make traditional Holi colors by using natural materials you have at home. Experiment with different dried tea leaves and spices to see what makes the prettiest colors.
Bake traditional sweets :: Indian desserts can be complicated, but there are some easier recipes out there. And observing the Festival of Love with food and bonding in the kitchen just feels right.
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Holi has me excited to celebrate the upcoming warmer weather! How will you enjoy the start of spring?