27 Interesting Facts About Holi

Last updated on September 10th, 2017

Holi, also known as the festival of colors, is a Hindu spring festival which is celebrated in India and Nepal. In 2017, Holika Dahan (Holi Bonfire) will be on 12th March and Rangwali Holi will be celebrated on 13th March.

Below are some interesting facts about Holi that will help you learn more about this festival which is celebrated by millions of people from various cultures and regions. Holi is awaited eagerly even in the United States and Germany.

The festival is all about people coming together and getting rid of their worries and spending a day or two with their friends and family.

Facts about history of Holi

#1. The name holi comes from “Holika”, the sister of demon King “Hiranyakashyap” (refer: hindu mythology).

#2. Legend has that the evil king – Hiranyakashyap – forbade his son Prahlad from worshiping one of the Hindu gods – Lord Vishnu. However, Prahlad worshiped Vishnu despite his father’s denial.

Thus the demon king ordered Prahlad to sit on pyre (a structure, usually made of wood, for burning a body as part of a funeral rite or execution) along with Holika (who was immune to fire) the sister of the demon king. When the fire started, Holika was burnt to death in spite of her immunity to fire, and miraculously Prahlad was saved because Prahlad asked the help of Lord Vishnu during the event.

The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi. However there are other arguments as well, that support the celebration of Holi and its origin. The story is also narrated in various ways but the conclusion remains the same i.e. – “victory of good over evil.”

#3. Other legend behind the origin of holi is that Lord Krishna as a baby was poisoned by the breast milk of Putana and thus he developed the characteristic blue color of his skin. Krishna was not sure if fair skinned Radha and other girls would like him. Thus he approached Radha and colored her face in some colors. Radha accepted Krishna despite the blue color of his skin and since that day the festival of holi is celebrated.

Color shop during Holi in India
A traditional color shop during the festival of Holi in India. Image credit – Ganesh Dhamodkar

Occurrence of Holi and its celebration

#4. Occurrence: It is celebrated after the full moon in the month of ‘Phalguna’ which generally falls between February and March.

#5. The exact date of the festival is determined by the Hindu Calendar and its arrival varies on the Gregorian calendar.

#6. The festival of Holi is celebrated for at least 16 days in the Brag region of India where Krishna was born.

#7. Holi is also celebrated in Mauritius, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago, Pakistan, and the Philippines.

#8. The first day is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi and the second as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan.

Facts about rituals during Holi

#9. The festival of holi is predominantly a festival of fun. People spend a lot of their time during the festival days engaging in fun activities.

#10. Kids start using water balloon and water pistols a week or 10 days before holi. They hide and target the by-passers with balloons filled with colored water and water pistols.

#11. A special delight that people make at their home is Gujiya. It is a stuffed sweet delicacy where the stuffing consists of dry fruits and other sweet items. It is very popular and people enjoy the delight to their full extent.

#12. A popular saying: The festival of colors is also popular for a saying “Bura na mano, Holi hai!” which means “do not mind, it’s holi.”

#13. Synthetic vs natural colors: The use of synthetic colors during the festival of holi is a concern for some people. However, many prefer playing with water and some homemade natural colors. Natural colors are derived from indigo, sunflower, and marigo flowers.