Holi, known as the “Festival of Love,” of the “Festival of Colors,” ushers in spring each March in a celebration of the end of the dark days of winter. Powdered paints, or sometimes watercolors from balloons or water guns, cloud the air in a haze of pinks, blues, yellows, reds, and a myriad of other colors so vividly bright that you just can’t help but smile when you see them.
The festival signifies the arrival of spring, the cultivation of friendships, the love of family, and the playfullness of children. People of all ages gather together to toss the powders in the air or to smear them on each other’s white Kurtas (tunics).
One of the most beautiful things about India and her people is the exuberance with which everybody celebrates each other’s traditions. Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and everyone else come together to play on this day. Laughter ripples through the air as intensely as the colors.
Children run free, pressing their painted hands to each other’s faces and smearing the powders on adults.
Hugs are shared widely. And, even the adults can’t help but giggle when a friend douses them with color.
Traditionally, Holi symbolizes the defeat of an evil king, Hyranyakashipu, and his equally evil sister, Holika, who attempted to set her young nephew, Prahlada, afire. Thus, it stands for the defeat of evil, and the triumph of all that is good.
But, more than anything, it is a celebration of love.
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Story and photos ©Erika Burkhalter. All rights reserved.