Significance of Holi (Festival of Colors)

Holi News 2012Holi is a festival that symbolizes the beginning of spring also known as ‘Vasant Rutu’. It is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March). This year Holi was celebrated on March 8.

 The devotees of Lord Krishna celebrate Holi by remembering the divine pastimes of Lord Krishna indulging in the colour festival in Mathura and Vrindavan and also when Prahlad was protected by Lord Vishnu when his father arranged to burn him at the hands of his sister Holika and

The Significance of Holi

Hiranyakashipu was the great king of demons, and he had been granted a boon by Brahma, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was due to his long penance, after which he had demanded that he not be killed "during day or night; inside the home or outside, not on earth or in the sky; neither by a man nor an animal; neither by astra  nor by shastra". Consequently, he grew arrogant and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping Lord Vishnu and worship him instead.

Hiranyakashipu's own son, Prahlada, was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. In spite of several threats from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlada continued offering prayers to Lord Vishnu. He was poisoned by Hiranyakashipu, but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was ordered to be trampled by elephants yet remained unharmed. He was put in a room with hungry, poisonous snakes and survived. All of Hiranyakashipu's attempts to kill his son failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlada to sit on a pyre on the lap of his demoness sister, Holika, who could not die because she also had a boon which would prevent fire from burning her. Prahlada readily accepted his father's orders, and prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Vishnu all this while, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion. 


Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika, and is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil. Holi is also celebrated as the triumph of a devotee. As the legend depicts that anybody, howsoever strong, cannot harm a true devotee. And, those who dare torture a true devotee of Lord Vishnu shall be reduced to ashes.

 Later Lord Vishnu came in the form of a Lord Narasimha (who is half-man and half-lion) and killed Hiranyakashipu at dusk (which was neither day nor night), on the steps of the porch of his house (which was neither inside the house nor outside) by restraining him on his lap (which is neither in the sky nor on the earth) and mauling him with his claws (which are neither astra nor shastra).

  In Vrindavan and Mathura, where Lord Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi) in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Lord Krishna is believed to have popularized the festival by playing pranks on the gopis here. Lord Krishna is believed to have complained to his mother about the contrast between His dark skin complexion and Radha's fair skin complexion. Krishna's mother decided to apply colour to Radha's face. The celebrations officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love.