Holi, often called “The Festival of Colors,” is a Hindu festival that marks the beginning of spring and coincides with the phases of the moon. The celebration begins around the time of the full moon during the month of Phalguna on the Hindu calendar. Typically, this falls between the end of February and the middle of March each year.
Holi observances in India can be traced as far back as the 4th Century AD. There are various Hindu legends associated with Holi, but they all harken back to the same message of celebrating the triumph of good over evil.
Although some celebrations take place for an afternoon, Holi is traditionally a two-day festival. The first evening is called Choti Holi and involves lighting large bonfires. Revelers sing and dance around the pyres to symbolize leaving behind the negative thoughts and feelings of the previous year and starting anew.
On the day of Holi, people dress in white clothing, congregate in the streets, and throw colored powder or water into the air and at each other. Traditionally, the colors came from natural sources, like flowers and herbs, but today they are made from synthetic dyes. Each color has a different symbolic meaning.
Blue symbolizes the Hindu gods and serves as a reminder of the underlying theme of Holi, “that evil exists but can be contained, through courage and the right actions.”
Red is used to wish the gods and goddesses a happy Holi and symbolizes weddings, fertility, and love.
Green represents nature, life, new beginnings, and harvests.
Yellow is closely linked to turmeric, often used in Indian cooking and as a natural remedy for inflammation. During Holi, it represents health and happiness.
Following the outdoor celebrations, family and friends gather in the evening to exchange gifts and eat sweets.