Holi in India – History, Mythologies, Legends & Beyond (part 1)

In India, Holi is the time of the year which raises a toast to the diversity of the country. Holi festival has glorious past aging back to the Puranas.

A very long time ago, it was told in the books of Purana, Hiranyakashipu that the demonic King of asuras earned a boon which gave him 5 magical powers. He can’t be killed by any human or any animal, whether at day or night, by Astra or Shastra, indoors or outdoors, and finally, on land, air, or water. However, his son Prahlada, who was a devotee of Vishnu, was against his hegemony. Therefore, King Hiranyakashipu subjected Prahlada to punishments but in vain. In the end, he was tricked by Holika – his evil aunt – to sit on a pyre with her. When the fire roared, while Holika burned down to ashes, Prahlada got encased in the cloak that was immune to fire. Then, Lord Vishnu appeared in the avatar of Narasimha (half human half lion); at dusk (neither day nor night), placed King Hiranyakashipu on his lap at the doorstep (neither on land, water or air nor indoors or outdoor) and disemboweled the King with his lion claws Holi Moly!

Though the festival has various legends all over the country, the meaning of Holi is the victory of good over evil. It represents the end of winter and the onset of spring.

Here are some places which kick Holi in a frenzy:

  1. Lathmar Holi, Barsana, Uttar Pradesh

It might sound bizarre, however, the truth is stranger than fiction. In Uttar Pradesh’s Braj region, Holi is celebrated with colors and Lathis, too. Lath Mar Holi is the Holi in which men are beaten up with sticks by women according to their traditions.

In 2019, Lath Mar Holi will be celebrated in the Nandgaon village on March 16 and the celebrations continue on March 17. There we will eat sweets and people of Barsana won’t just stop. Laddoos are thrown while singing spiritual songs related to Krishna and Radha.