Holi is celebrated every year on Poornima (full moon day) in the Phalguna month (that starts after March 12) of the Hindu calendar. Holi has a mythological significance behind it. Holi represents the winning of Good over Evil and the name of the event is after Holika.
Mythological interpretation of Holika is mixed because she represents for many as a savior but many believe she was not.
According to Hindu mythology, Holika was the sister of King Hiranyakashipu and aunt of Prahlad.
Hiranyakashipu got special powers from Brahma and these powers made him almost immortal because he could be killed by neither a human being nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither at day nor at night, neither by Astra (projectile weapons) nor by any shastra (handheld weapons), and neither on land nor in water or air.
After receiving these powers, he started behaving like a god and asked everybody to worship him as the greatest of all gods. However, his son Prahlad refused to worship who was a follower of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap was very angry because Lord Vishnu killed his brother and he had extreme hate for Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashyap tried several times to kill his son Prahlad but he was saved by Lord Vishnu. In an attempt, King Hiranyakashyap called upon his sister Holika for help. Holika had a special cloak garment that prevented her from being harmed by fire. Hiranyakashyap asked her to sit on a bonfire with Prahlad, by tricking the boy to sit on her lap. However, as the fire roared, the garment flew from Holika and covered Prahlad. Holika burnt to death, Prahlad came out unharmed.
Mythological explanations have two different viewpoints over this incident. One school of thought believes that Holika sacrificed her life and saved her nephew by putting his special garment over Prahlad but another school of thought says that it was Vishnu who asked heavy winds to take away special garment from the body of Holika and covered Prahlad therefore Prohlad was saved and Holika was burnt down.
The story of Holika or Holi teaches us that nobody is immortal on this earth and evil has to eliminated and good survives.
If we consider Holika as a savior then we can understand that sacrifices are never going to unregistered and always be remembered.
Prahlad commitment to Lord Vishnu against his father represents that Rightness must be supported even against his own father and faith over Good can defeat Evil.
Mythological Holi is mixed of several events and represents several characters of Hindu Mythology therefore it has several observances and is being celebrated not only one day rather several days and every day represents a different story. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan (burning of Demon Holika) or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dol Purnima, Dhuleti, Dhulandi, Ukuli, Manjal Kuli,Yaosang, Phagwah and Jajiri.
Holi also represents spring and harvest, with multiple Hindu legends to explain its origins. Another story that connects to its colorfulness with Lord Krishna, who feels embarrassed by his blue skin compared with the fair skin of his love, Radha and he colored his skin to look better because his skin was blue because he was lactated with poisoned breast milk of the she-demon, Putana. Later, when he became young, he would often feel sad about whether the fair-colored Radha or other girls in the village would ever like him because of his blue. Giving in to his desperation, Krishna’s mother asked him to go and color Radha’s face with any color he wanted to. So when Krishna applied color to Radha, they both became a couple, and since then, people have started playing with colors on Holi.
Legend Of Kamadeva
A story links Holi with Lagend of Kamadeva. When Lord Shiva was in a deep depression after Sati’s death and was disconnected from the worldly happenings, Lord Kamadeva shot a love arrow on him. The raged Shiva burnt Kamadeva into ashes, though he later revived him on Rati- Kaamadeva’s wife’s request.
Legend Of Dhundhi
There was once an ogress in the kingdom of Raghu who used to eat children. She was made to flee away by a group of boys celebrating noisily and chanting mantras around the fire. From this legend comes the ritual of putting a bonfire in the evening of Holi. It is believed that the bonfire will chase away all the negative energies around.
Legend Of Pootana
Lord Krishna’s devil uncle ‘Kansa’ sent Pootana a female demon to kill the baby Krishna. She went forward to feed the baby milk from her breasts which had poison in it. Krishna – the clever baby, started sucking the blood out of her, revealing and then killing her.
Holi in Ancient Hindu Inscriptions
Early Vedas and Puranas such as ‘Narad Purana’ and ‘Bhavishya Purana’ have a detailed description of Holi. Archeologists excavated a 300 BC stone at Ramgarh which has the mention of ‘Holikotsav’, meaning the celebration of Holi inscribed on it. This hints that Holi was originated even before the birth of Christ. Many other ancient references include King Harsha’s ‘Ratnavali’ which talks about Holikotsav.
Holi in Ancient Paintings and Frescoes
Some ancient temples in various parts of India contain sculptures on their walls illustrating Holi celebrations. A 16th-century painting discovered in Ahmednagar is on the theme of Vasanta Ragini – spring song or music.
Every color has a meeting in Hindu Mythology
Every color represents something special for Hindu mythology.
Red is a mark of matrimony therefore brides wear red most often at their wedding since it symbolizes fertility, love, beauty, and, most importantly, is a sign of a married woman. Tilak—a red dot on the forehead of a married woman in Hinduism symbolizes blissful matrimony.
Yellow is almost synonymous with turmeric, an ingredient of great importance at auspicious functions across religions. It is perhaps revered more so because of its medicinal use right from ancient times.
Blue is the color of the revered god in Hinduism, Lord Krishna.
Green symbolizes new beginnings, harvest, and fertility.
Saffron is often associated with Hinduism, piety, and strength.
A poem by Sarita Aditya Verma titled “Holi Hai” represents the beauty and importance of Holi for families and children.
Here comes the day
With coloured hands and faces
To the music we sway
Touch not with intentions perverse
The festival of colours
My favourite is the vermillion red (gulal)
Will colour you red yellow and blue too
Vibrant the colours
Will bring you happiness and cheer
And moments to rejoice and remember
Gear up with your water guns and sprinklers
Filled with organic colours
No chemicals please
Look for revellers dressed in all white
Drench them all in the hues of the rainbow bright
Munch on the Gujia, a sweet treat
Time for a rain dance to the desi beats
It’s time to cheer
Spring is right here