Sure, we’ve all seen the color runs in America and videos of vibrant color fights. But what is it like to experience Holi like a local? This year, we had the opportunity to experience Holi with Abhi’s family in New Delhi. It was certainly an experience we will never forget.
About the Holi Celebration
The Holi Celebration is India’s most colorful and most vivid festival of them all. It stands out from the rest and is a celebration so unique that I think everyone should experience it. In this article, we will be going through why you should experience Holi like a local and the unique history of this holiday.
The History of Holi
Before understanding why we should experience this joyous festival, we first need to understand its past and its history. What is the origin of Holi and, how did it start? The legend is that Lord Vishnu had assassinated Hiranyakashipu’s younger brother. Hiranyakashipu, the demon king, had an aspiration to rule the heavens, the overworld, and the underworld. In the process of doing so, he would have to kill Lord Vishnu and avenge his brother’s death. Hiranyakashipu thought himself invincible when he was strengthened by a boon that was given to him. He started to give orders to the people and, when he did, everybody started to worship him.
However, Prahalad, the son of Hiranyakashipu, disobeyed his father and wanted to be nothing but Lord Vishnu. This angered his father so Hiranyakashipu decided to execute his son with the help of his sister, Holika. Holika is immune to fire so a pyre was lit and she had to sit on it, clutching Prahalad. To everyone’s surprise, Prahalad emerged from the fire without a single scar, while on the other hand, Holika burned to ashes. Hiranyakashipu also ended up getting killed by Vishnu. This story has inspired countless remakes by actors. Bonfires across India celebrate the burning away of the evil spirits.
The story mentioned shows you the origin of Holi and how it came about. Holi was derived from Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashipu.
Celebrating Holi like a Local
The celebration starts 40 days before the actual date as preparation for the event needs time. To signify the bonfire in the past, people lite real bonfires 40 days before the event. Logs and firewood are placed nearby rural villages to tell people that it is time to collect wood. The wood would be gathered far away from trees and any flammable items to ensure nothing gets out of control. The firewood has to be placed in a certain way so that there is space to include Holika. A flammable dummy statue of Holika is in the center and, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil.
At the day of the event, the bonfire is aflame. To truly experience it, the advice is to clear your mind and get rid of all distractions, only focus on the destruction of evil. As you focus yourself on the bonfire, chant the Rakshoghna mantras if you can.
The Celebration Begins
Since evil disappears, everyone comes out to celebrate with colorful paint and clothing. Early in the morning, people would smear color onto their loved ones and use water guns to squirt colored water onto each other. Other than spreading colors all over people, there will also be cheerful music and delicious food. Dance to the beat of drums, and don’t forget to eat traditional delicacies like gujia, puran poli, dahi vada and thandai.
Along the streets and on the roads, pots of buttermilk would be hanging from nearby houses and, it is one of the older traditions of Holi. In the past, bad people would steal buttermilk from houses so to combat this, the townsfolk hanged it high up. It is also a tradition to visit friends and family at this time and celebrate the festival with it. People would bring traditional snacks and food to their friends and family’s houses too.
Our Favorite Part about Experiencing Holi like a Local
I think that now, we both understand the Holi celebration much more and we are ready to find out why we should experience it.
The colors in the Holi celebration is a big part of the entire tradition. It is the main attraction and is something that many people look forward to. Bright colors are on the lighter side to signify that evil is gone. That makes you feel very joyful and happy emotionally as seeing those colors will make you smile. Experiencing the colors out on the streets and participating in them is an excellent way of knowing what it means. Everybody there forgets about all of the terrible and hateful things that people do and say to each other and have a good time. Say goodbye to hatred and say hello to new friendships. The atmosphere is vibrant and upbeat.
Don’t Forget Dancing!
Dancing is also a big part of the festival and is why you should participate in it. Similar to colors, dancing makes you feel joyful and happy, however, it does this differently. Dancing is a form of exercise and makes your heart start pumping, experiencing the songs and how the music flows is captivating. There will be a lot of singing and chanting of famous Hindi songs therefore it is fine if you do not understand the words.
Holi Traditional Food
India is famous for luxurious and gourmet food. India has a very intriguing take on food, especially for spices and decorations. In the Holi celebration, shops and supermarkets will be selling these mouth-watering treats and, you should try them. They will open your tastebuds to a whole different dimension.
Holi is a Time for Community and Celebration
Coming together includes meeting your friends and your family. If you are visiting India only to see the Holi celebration, you might not be able to fully experience meeting people but if you can visit relatives or friends, by all means, do that. Coming together and both feeling the atmosphere is a box on your checklist that you need to tick off.
There you go, the reasons why you need to experience the Holi celebration like a local. I hope after reading this article, your perspective towards the celebration would have been changed. Happy Holi!
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