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Holi Phagwa: The Hindu Festival of Colors

by Benjamin Kerns

Mar 24, 2020

© Dmytro Varavin | Dreamstime.com

Trends / History

Holi is the Hindu festival of colors and a celebration of the triumph over good and evil. Though it is predominately an Indian holiday, it’s now celebrated in many areas of Asia and Africa. The holiday lasts about a month and often coincides with the arrival of spring.

 

The significance of Holi Phagwa is rooted in Hindu religious texts. They tell the story of a king who wanted to destroy his young son. He enlisted his sister, Holika, said to be immune to fire. He commanded her to take the boy into a large fire to kill him, but the child’s faith protected him while reversing Holika’s abilities, causing her to burn. During the holiday, effigies of her are burnt as a symbol of purification. While that sounds morbid, the celebration of Holi is primarily joyful in nature.

 

The festival is marked by a Carnival-esque atmosphere that involves dousing participants in bright colors. Traditional folk music called Chowtal is sung throughout the country and is incredibly fast-paced and fun. Music and dancing are an important part of the holiday, with parties popping up all throughout March. Afterwards, participants return home to bathe and every traveler should strive to see firsthand.

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