One of the most vibrant and important festivals on the Hindu calendar, Holi is a celebration of the beginning of spring and the triumph of good over evil. We spoke to three students about what it means to celebrate Holi.
The ancient Hindu festival, Holi, is known as the Festival of Spring, the Festival of Colours, and the Festival of Love - things definitely worth celebrating. We spoke to three students – Akhilla Ashok, Ruhani Dhillon and Saksham Lama from the Ekansh Indian Cultural Society about what the festival means to them and how it is celebrated.
‘Holi is ultimately a celebration of love. It marks the end of winter and the onset of spring. It’s about the triumph of good versus evil and brining society together across multiple festivals.’
‘Holi is one of those festivals that started with the story of Holika Dahan (i.e. Holika's death), signifying the victory of righteousness and testament of the power of devotion. ‘
In Hindu mythology, Holika was the sister of an evil and powerful king, Hiranyakshyap who considered himself a god and wanted everybody to worship him. When Hiranyakshyap’s son Prahlad refused to worship him, Holika and Hiranyakshyap hatched a plan to kill Prahlad by having Holika carry him into a fire, believing that Holika would not be burned by the flames. However, Prahlad was saved from the flames for his devotion, while Holika ultimately paid the price.
The tradition of burning Holika or the Holika Dahan – a large bonfire that is a central part of Holi celebrations - comes mainly from this mythological story. But it’s not just about that.
‘The bonfire in Holi represents our unity and our togetherness and we celebrate as one.’
Holi is a truly vibrant festival, with many associated traditions. One of the best known is celebrants dousing each other with colourful powders or coloured water, leading to Holi becoming known as the Festival of Colours.
‘We play Holi with brightly coloured powders to throw and smear on clothes and faces. Holi is involved in wearing white clothes on the day, as white represents the peacefulness of mind and body. With white, all colours are easily visible and reflect the happiness that is about to come in your life. While playing with colours, we have a drink called Thandai with traditional snacks such as Ghujiya. Then we have lunch, bathe and dress up in clean clothes, which signifies the end of all Holi activities.’
Holi is all about good vibes, it’s an important opportunity for people to re-connect, forgive old conflicts, and repair broken relationships in a colourful and vibrant way.
With such gatherings so limited the past two years, our students are very excited to be able to get together and dance to this festival again.
‘Celebrating Holi on campus has been one of the most celebratory moments for us. Having been able to dance at the Quad, at this iconic place, and being international students – it’s like a dream!’
We hope all members of our community had a very Happy Holi.