Holi: A Festival of Color
As we eagerly wait for spring, we are reminded of the joy and vibrance to be found with the approach of the season. Nowhere in the world is this more apparent than in during the Holi Festival.
Traditionally a Hindu religious festival, its popularity has grown far beyond the religion. Each year, it is celebrated throughout India and much of Southeast Asia—and celebrations can be found in other locations all around the world, too. The Holi Festival falls each year on the full moon known in the Hindu calendar as Phalguna Purnima, which is close to the vernal equinox. Typically, this is in March or late February. This year, Holi will be celebrated on March 6!
A truly ancient tradition, Holi Festival, also known as the Festival of Colors or the Festival of Love, can be found in writings as early as the 4th century, mentioned by the poet Kālidāsa. It serves as a celebration of the arrival of spring, the victory of good over evil, and is a time to truly rejoice. Communities come together to laugh and play, to forge stronger bonds and to repair those that have been ruptured. Celebrations start on the eve of Holi with a Holika bonfire. Days before, community member work together to begin collecting wood for the bonfire, and on the night before the colorful festival, the pyre is lit. People, young and old, gather to sing and dance around the flames.
The next morning the true festival begins. Community members gather in open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings, and a free-for-all color fight begins. Participants play by coloring each other with dry pigments and colored water using water guns, water balloon and simply the dry powders, too. Everyone, regardless of age, sex or social standing, is fair game. Traditionally, these pigments come straight from the abundance of the earth and are made from all-natural, plant-derived pigments like turmeric, neem, dhak and kumkum. While the color free-for-all unfolds, musicians move throughout the city, inviting people to sing, dance and rejoice.
Afterwards, participants return home to refresh themselves and clean up, then they return to visit friends, neighbors and relatives, exchanging sweets and delicacies like gujiya, mathri and malpuas. A celebration of true joy, the Holi festival strives to forge bonds and generate harmony in the community, bringing residents together to rejoice over the abundance of spring colors.
Hindu legends explain this joyful celebration also. In his infancy, Krishna was poisoned by the demon Putana, turning his skin its iconic dark blue color. As he aged, he despaired that the fair-skinned girls, particularly Radha, would find him repulsive because of his skin color. His mother, after growing frustrated with her son's desperation, suggested that he approach Radha and color her face any shade he would like. He does this, and as a result the two fall in love. This playful exchange is commemorated each year as Holi.
The tradition has arrived in American popular culture, too. It serves as the inspiration for the popular 5K Color Run, and can be found in many other instances, too. At VivaTerra, we find Holi Festival simply amazing. We love the joy and strength it brings to a community, and the attention it centers on celebrating the seasonal transformation of our beautiful planet. Each of our all-natural, all-colorful artisan pieces handmade in India with love and care serves as a reminder for us—and we hope for you too!—of the vibrance and pure jubilation to be found in the Holi Festival.