The ancient Holi festival of India, also known as 'The Festival of Colours' and 'The Festival of Love,' took place on March 21st. The festival traditionally marks the last day of the year in the Indian calendar and the full moon, known as Phalguna Purnima. The celebrations continue to the next day, marking the beginning of the New Year and the welcoming of spring, referred to as Vasanta-ritu.
Today, Holi is recognised worldwide for the joyous and vibrant colours thrown during its celebration. This tradition stems from the legend of the Indian god, Lord Krishna, and his soul mate Radha. Krishna had been jealous of Radha’s skin and complained to his mother, who recommended he apply colour to Radha’s face to his liking. The playful act gained popularity and is still used in Holi festivals today. Inspired by the legend, the colours are now seen as an expression of love.
Holi also has roots in the legend of the demon King Hiranyakashyap. When his son, Prahlad, worshiped Lord Naarayana and not his father, the King commanded the boy be sent into a blazing fire. The demon King’s sister, Holika, was to carry his son, knowing she could survive doing so. Her blessing, however, only worked when entering fires alone. Holika met her fate and Prahlad survived for his devotion to Lord Naarayana. This, among other legends, depicts another central theme of the festival; the triumph of good over evil.
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