Celebrating The Holi Festival In India

March 8, 2015 India 2 Comments 10,672 Views

Celebrating The Holi Festival In Kalimpong.

Last weekend, like every year, Indians and Nepalis celebrated Holi, the festival of colour and love. Holi is an ancient Hindu religious festival which has become popular with non-Hindus in many parts around the world. Holi festivals are popping out like mushrooms everywhere and people use this occasion to party like there’s no tomorrow, take drugs and get drunk. This might be the case in India & Nepal as well (I couldn’t tell), but in Austria for example, I’d bet my last shirt that most people don’t know why Holi is celebrated in the first place – and this is why I find these party festivals needless! The legend behind it is an inspirational one…

The Legend Of Holi.

Holika (from where Holi comes from) was a female demon, and the sister of Hiranyakashyap, the demon king who considered himself ruler of the Universe and commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. Prahalad was the king’s son. His father hated him because Prahalad was a faithful devotee of the God Vishnu, not him. One day the king asked him “Who is the greatest,Vishnu or I?” “Vishnu is,” said the son, “you are only a king.” The king was furious and decided to murder his son. He tried several ways to kill his son, but failed every time; Prahalad survived being thrown over a cliff, being trampled by elephants, bitten by snakes, and attacked by soldiers. So the king asked his sister, Holika, to kill the boy. Holika captured Prahalad and sat in the middle of a fire with the boy on her lap. Since Holika had been given a magic power by the Gods that made her immune to fire, Prahalad would burn to death while she remained alive. But because Holika used her gift to do something evil, her power vanished and she was burned to ashes. Prahalad stayed true to his God, Vishnu who protected him, and Prahalad survived.

Therefore Holi is celebrated as a festival of the victory of good over evil.  In many parts of India, the dummy of Holika is burned on large bonfires.

How We Ended Up Celebrating Holi.

We ended up celebrating this festival while travelling through northeast India. All over sudden we were covered in colourful dust while searching for our hotel in Kalimpong, West Bengal. We just threw our bags into the room and went with the flow.

Although Holi has religious roots, not much religious activity is involved in its celebration anymore. It’s the most energetic Indian festival, filled with fun and humour – even the strict rules of separation between castes are abandoned during the festival; it simply connects people. They’re dancing through the streets, accompanied by trucks with music equipment to get the tensions really high.

We had the opportunity to sit up on one of these floats. It was totally crazy, with people throwing colourful powders, dancing and unbearable noise.

There’s A Down Side To The Holi Festival.

The down side of the Holi festival is that these colours are all highly toxic! You don’t feel it immediately, but they’re also capable of causing serious skin complications and allergies. The artificial colours that are used are structured polymers and are next to impossible to decompose biologically. Every year, people die from poisoning from colored powder and water used during Holi celebrations…

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Weeks before the Holi festival takes place, toxic colours can be bough in every street.
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Holi is celebrated at the approach of vernal equinox, during full moon. The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March.
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Holi is one of the major festival of India and is the most vibrant of all.
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During the Holi festival, there is no getting away from colours being thrown at you.
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The festival signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter, and for many a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair ruptured relationships.
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This truck was re-arranged as a music float leading the crowd of people through Kalimpong during the Holi celebration.
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Holi is the most energetic Indian festival, filled with fun and humour.
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Old and young celebrate during the Holi festival.
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The Holi festival connects people. They’re dancing through the streets, accompanied by trucks with music equipment to get the tensions really high.
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You can still feel the aftermath of the Holi festival days after…
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“Celebrating The Holi Festival In Kalimpong.”

  1. Nisa

    Thanks Brandon! When seeing all the wonderful Holi shots, I had no idea about how toxic they actually are. Only when I got to India around the time of Holi I started researching, simply because I didn’t want the colour to stick on me for weeks (which actually happens) and that’s how I found out. Then I knew that I had the choice to either get covered with powder as well but probably get better close-up shots, or simply stand further away and be healthy. It was an easy choice :)

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