Posted by: mkl325 | April 15, 2013

Holi Festival 2013

This weekend I took part in the Holi festival here in St. Andrews with some friends.

What is Holi?

Holi is a Hindu festival known as the festival of colors. The term comes from the story of the destruction of the demoness Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons. Hiranyakashipu had been given a blessing from Brahma, making it impossible for him to be killed. This power made Hiranyakashipu feel as though he were more important than the gods. His arrogance led him to not only attack the Heavens and the Earth but also made him believe that the people should stop worshiping the gods and praise him instead. Hiranyakashipu’s son, Prahlada, was a follower of Vishnu and so did not give into his father’s demands. As a result, Hiranyakashipu did everything he could (from poison to trampling by elephants) in order to kill his son. Prahlada continued to pray to Vishnu and at each murder attempt, he was saved. Hiranyakashipu eventually forced Prahlada to sit in a pyre on the lap of Holika, who also had been given a blessing that prevented her death from fire. At this moment, as Prahlada prayed to Vishnu, Holika was inexplicably burned to death while Prahlada was saved. The salvation of Prahlada at this moment, when Holika is destroyed is celebrated as Holi.

Why the colored powders?

The festival of Holi takes place in the springtime, when the weather begins to change. This weather change is believed to cause illness, and the throwing of colored powders was done for medical purposes. Traditionally the powders used to be made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs, which tinted the powders and helped prevent illness. Therefore, throwing the powder on someone during the festival was symbolic of wishing them good health.

Holi Today

In the US there are several types of 5k “color runs” which are based off the festival of Holi. The same type of powders are thrown on runners dressed in all white while they make their way through a 5k.

The Holi festival today is becoming widespread itself. Although the main purpose is to wish good health, my experience of it was more equitable to a snowball fight. The first few hits I took were directly in the face, pretty forcibly, blinding me for a couple of minutes before jumping back in. Once the initial attacks subdues, it was a great experience and an incredible amount of fun.

Photos of Holi 2013 – I may add more soon.

Powder in the air…

Holi 2013

Me and Iris

Me and Iris

Iris and June

June and Iris


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