The Most Colorful Festival in the World: Holi

From Minnie Gupta

According to an Indian folk tale, a lad named Krishna thought he would dress his beloved Radha with a rainbow since she loved rainbows. Krishna painted Radha in as many colors as possible. This tale illustrates the birth of the festival of Holi–the most colorful festival in the world.


The Holi festival of colors is both fascinating to and loved by all across the country of India. Effervescent swirls of color fill the crisp, fresh air, signifying the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

The Holi festival is a great equalizer. People, young and old, big and small, throw powdered colors at each other, dyeing everyone in hues of vibrant celebration. No matter one’s background, caste or creed, the vivid colors of purple, pink, yellow, green coat every inch of the body. Everyone, regardless of age, looks a part of one rainbow puzzle-scape.

Bollywood has immortalized the festival of Holi with swashbuckling heroes; enchanting heroines play hide and seek with Holi colors, filling the air around them with joyful melodies, many of which have become cult classics.

Holi is celebrated mainly over two days – Holika Dahan and Holi.  This year Holi is on March 9-10.

The story of Holika Dahan tells of Hiranyakashyap, a cruel king, who ruled with an iron fist. He executed anyone who refused to worship him as a god. His cruelty extended to his son Prahlad, a worshipper of Lord Vishnu (Krishna, the lad mentioned above, is an avatar of Vishnu).

The cruel king, whose equally evil sister Holika was gifted with immunity from fire, made her sit on a pyre with Prahlad in her lap. The king hoped the child would burn to death for refusing to worship his father.  But the result was not expected:  Holika burned to death, and Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad and killed Hirayakashyap. Prahlad became the new king.

To celebrate this momentous triumph of good over evil, people collect firewood for several days and make a bonfire on the evening before Holi.  Through this bonfire, participants consign all things negative to the flames. The Indian community in Holliston has been celebrating the festival of Holi since 2014. The MOHI group (MetroWest Organization of Holliston Indians) celebrates this annual event by hosting a potluck community event at the Hopkinton State Park.

An eagerly awaited event, people gather and bring Holi delicacies, many of which are made from scratch. On rare, warmer days of the New England spring, one can find groups of children and teens romping with a variety of water guns, spraying water and then showering people with fists full of vibrant pigments. There are games, and of course, lots of songs dedicated solely to Holi.

The MOHI Parivar Group is planning to host the Holi event on April 5th, with a rain/snow date of April 11th/12th. The event will include a vegetarian potluck.  If interested in attending, a small tray of something to nibble would be a great addition.  We hope to see you there!

Guests may register and find additional details in mid-March on the MOHI Parivar Facebook page.

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