Thank you to Sebastian Modak from CN Traveller
Holi, the Hindu festival that marks the beginning of spring, is known by the photos that circulate the world every year, showing explosions of color and hordes of smiling faces. But how much do you actually know about it?
With its roots in India and Nepal, Holi, the festival of color, has spread to the Hindu diaspora around the world and beyond. The festival reaches its peak today, when entire cities become coated in a technicolor veneer of dye. And while people all over the globe participate in the celebration, they don’t always know some its intricacies. Take a look at these photos from revelers around the world, and learn some of the lesser known facts about the holiday.
1. Holi has come to mark the coming of spring, and people celebrate it as a way to put the past year behind them and begin anew. But its roots lie in ancient Hindu mythology. Specifically, it heralds the triumph of good over evil, when the Prince Prahalad emerged unscathed from a burning pyre, while the demon Holika burned to death.
2. Holi is actually a two-day festival, and the carnival of color is just part of the celebration, taking place on the second day. The festival kicks off the night before, with the Holika Bonfire, where people build giant pyres and sing and dance through the night.
3. The festival doesn’t fall on a specific day of the Gregorian calendar. Instead, it is celebrated on the last full moon of the Hindu lunar month Phalgun, which is generally in March.
4. Traditionally, many people on Holi go the extra mile to release their inhibitions with the ingestion of bhang, a cannabis paste that is mixed into drinks and snacks and associated with the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. While cannabis products are illegal in India, authorities tend to look the other way during the festivities.
5. The color wars so integral to Holi celebrations today were originally carried out with powder dyes, made from turmeric, sandalwood paste and flower extract. These days, while the throwing of powder is still common, the tools have evolved, and it is not uncommon to see people armed with arsenals of water guns and water balloons filled with synthetically dyed water.