Holi is known as a festival of colours, fun and frolic. It is a festival of the Hindus. It usually comes in March. It is celebrated with gaiety in North India. Of late the South is also catching up with the North in celebrating this festival of colours.
There are different stories about the importance of the festival. It is said that at one stage a demon by name Tarakasura conquered all ‘Lokas or worlds’ including heaven and was teasing the ‘Devas’. It became necessary for the Devas to pray to Lord Siva to bring forth a person who could conquer Taraka. But Lord Siva was in deep ‘Tapas’. He was not showing any interest towards Parvati, who was devotedly serving him with a desire to marry. Then the ‘Devas’ requested ‘Manmadha, the God of Love’ to help them and disturb the ‘Tapas’ of Lord Siva. He shot his flower arrows at Lord Siva which disturbed his meditation. Lord Siva got angry and burnt ‘Manmada’ to ashes by opening his third eye. But the arrow had its effect and Siva had to love Parvati and Kartikeya was born, who later killed Tarakasura. The bonfire raisd on the festive occasion is to represent the ‘Kamadahana’ by Lord Siva.
Another story is about Prahlada who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, a bitter enemy of Asuras. So Hiranya Kasipu, the father of Prahlada entrusts Prahlada to his sister Halika to burn the boy alive. But in that attempt Halika gets burnt and Prahlada is saved. The bonfire is said to be a symbol of Halika’s death.
Some others connect the colour festival to Rasalila of Lord Krishna with Gopikas. Whatever may be the story behind Holi, the bonfire symbolises burning of evil for the sake of good. The Holi day is full of fun and frolic. All men and women, boys and girls and children join in the sprinkling of colours. Differences are forgotten. Enmity does not find a place. All are friends. Even old people join the fun. They use Abir and Gulal.
Till noon the singing and dancing go on with no restrictions whatsoever. Buckets of colour water are sprinkled. Youngsters play till they are completely drenched in colour. Even dignitaries like ministers including the Prime Minister and the President partake in the fun. Satire, irony and abuse are freely used with no offence. The mirth is over by noon. After a rich meal of special dishes people go to meet their friends and relations., The evening bonfires are lit in some places. During the previous night people dance around the fire and make merry.
It is not a festival of colours but also a festival of unity and friendship. All barriers like caste, creed, position, and language are forgotten and men and women join the fun.