Is Holi a Public Holiday?
Holi is regarded as a public holiday in India, which is why all government offices, banks, universities, colleges and institutions remain closed on this day. Also, some places remain closed one day before Holi as well, which is popularly known as Choti Holi. This day marks the end of gloomy winters and the arrival of bright spring.
However, public dealing offices and institutions remain functional in other countries such as Australia, Canada, the UK and USA but can alter their opening or closing time accordingly. Large celebrations are carried out in such countries, and Indian natives residing there observe this occasion with equal fervour and merriment.
Holi in Mythology
The history of Holi holds great religious and spiritual significance. There are various mythological legends associated with Holi in Hinduism. However, every one of them signifies the victory and why this day is regarded as one of the major events in India.
The Legend of Prahlad & Lord Vishnu
This day honors Lord Vishnu and his loyal devotee Prahlad, the son of the Asura King Hiranyakashipu. As per the Bhagavata Purana, since Hiranyakashyapu had earned several boons, he considered himself as a God and demanded from everyone to worship him.
However, his own son Prahlad thought otherwise, and worshipped Lord Vishnu with all his devotion. This made the King angry, and in order to punish him, asked his sister Holika to trick him into sitting with her on a lighting pyre.
Holika was blessed with a cloak by Lord Brahma, which she wore when she sat on the pyre and tricked Prahlad to sit on her lap. It is believed that Prahlad started chanting Lord Vishnu’s name, and as the fire roared high, Holika got burnt while Prahlad survived. Since that day, Holika Dahan is observed and rituals regarding lighting a bonfire are carried out.
The Legend of Lord Krishna
The festival of Holi celebrates the pure bond between Krishna and Radha. It is believed that during his childhood, baby Krishna was poisoned by the she-demon Putna, due to which his complexion darkened.
Because of his complexion, he was hesitant about Radha liking him or not, and after being pacified by his mother, he mischievously colored Radha’s face, thereby making her just like him. From that day onwards, this innocent love between Radha & Krishna is being commemorated on the day of Holi.
The Legend of Lord Shiva
According to several mythological legends, it is believed that Goddess Parvati wanted Lord Shiva to come back from his meditative state. For this, she asked Kamdev, the Hindu God of Love, to help her out. Hearing this, he started shooting arrows at Lord Shiva, but got burned to ashes since Lord Shiva got angry and opened his third eye.
This affected Kamdev’s wife Rati, who meditated for forty days to seek forgiveness. Upon seeing this, Lord Shiva understood and forgave the whole act, and restored Kamdev in all his glory. The day on which the God of Love returned is celebrated as Holi.
Holi Symbols in India
Holika Dahan or Holika Pyre is one of the significant Holi symbols, and marks the triumph of Good over Bad. It is believed that by all kinds of negativity, evil spirits and bad thoughts get eliminated with the blazing bonfire on Holika.
The ashes in the air after the bonfire is lit is said to purify the environment and provide protection against evil spirits and diseases. Colors, gulal and sweet dishes such as Gujhiyas are also known to be some of the popular Holi symbols.
Holika Dahan on Holi
Several rituals and customs are followed on the colorful festival of Holi. The earliest mentions about this festival can be found in the Dasakumara Charita and during the 4th Century by the famous poet Kalidas.
The festival of Holi begins one day before the actual day, when the ritual of Holika Dahan is carried out. This ritual marks the end of Holika, an Asura or Demon and sister of the tyrant King Hiranyakashyapu, who tried to kill her nephew Prahald on her brother’s orders and got killed instead.
This was because Prahald, the son of King Hiranyakashyapu, was a devout devotee of Lord Vishnu, and when on the pyre, started chanting his name. Therefore, on this day, people gather firewood, light a bonfire in an open area and hang an effigy of Holika, signifying the Holika Pyre. This custom highlights the victory of Good over Evil.
Holi Celebrations in India
Holi celebrations are carried out in full force in India. Festivities include celebrating Choti Holi one day prior to the main day by carrying out Holika Dahan rituals and lighting a bonfire, preparing delicious sweets such as Gujhiyas and Malpuas, purchasing Gulal or organic colors and balloons and even organizing Holi parties.
On the main day of Holi, people wake up early, visit their loved ones, exchange Holi wishes and Holi greetings, and apply colours on each other’s cheeks.
Several cultural programs and events also take place on this festive occasion, where people dance their hearts out, play with colors and throw water or water balloons at each other. Bhang Thandai is one of the specialties consumed on the day of Holi, which can be described as an intoxicated herbal drink made out of cannabis.
A lot of fun and play can be seen on Holi, where people forgive and forget and embrace each other with open arms and hearts. In the Braj region in Mathura, Lathmar Holi is widely popular, where men shield themselves from the continuous showers of beatings by their wives using a stick.
This festival goes by many different names in different states. In Assam, it is called Dol Yatra, Phaguwa in Bihar, Ukkuli in Goa, Dhuleti in Gujarat, and much more. Folk songs and dances are widely performed in several communities on this day in India. In South India, Lord Kana is worshipped on this auspicious day, and offerings are made.
Best Holi Messages & Greetings
Below mentioned are some of the heartfelt Holi messages you can use to exchange Holi greetings or Holi wishes with your loved ones. Use them when sending a Holi message or as a social media status:
- “May you have the most blessed holi festival than you ever had. May it be full of fun, joy and love. May you be as colorful as the festival itself or even more. Happy Holi”
- “Bright colors, water balloons, lavish gujiyas and melodious songs are the ingredients of perfect Holi. Wish you a very happy and wonderful Holi.”
- “Wishing You A Colorful Day A Colorful Life. Color Your Mind With Positivism & Happiness. Happy Holi”
- “May God paint the canvas of your life with the colours of Joy, Love, Happiness, Prosperity, Good Health, and success. Wishing You a Happy Holi!”
- “Happiness is when you see brightness even in darkness, so keep on walking with the colorful mind to bring out the best color in you. Happy Holi!”
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1. Is Holi a Hindu New Year?
For many Hindus, Holi’s festivities mark the beginning of the new year as well as an opportunity to re-establish and renew ruptured relationships from the past.
2. Do Sikh celebrate Holi?
It is mentioned that Guru Gobind Singh used colors like Gulaal, Ambar and Abeera to play Holi. Such a tradition is still followed in Anandpur Sahib.
3. Which country celebrates Holi?
Holi is a festival of Hindus. It’s celebrated in India and Nepal. The festival is held for two days.
4. Who is the God of Holi?
Holi is celebrated in the honour of Hindu god Vishnu and his devotee Prahlada.
We hope you liked this article on Holi 2019 and found necessary information. A very Happy Holi to you and your family!