Holi: The Festival of Colours
Colours, camaraderie, love, the arrival of spring, the end of winter and the triumph of good over evil! These are all the things we celebrate Holi for. Fagu Purnima, also known as Holi, is a Hindu festival that is celebrated on a full-moon day at the end of the month of Falgun, which falls between mid-February and mid-May. People play with colours with their friends and families on this day. Bright colours, water balloons, delicious dishes, bonfires and melodious songs are part of the festivities. Holi is observed all over Nepal but mostly in the Southern Terai region, where it is celebrated a day later.
There are different myths tied to this festival, the most popular of which is the death of the demoness Holika. According to the legend, Holika was the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyapu, and she was blessed by the Gods that she could not be harmed by fire. Hirankashyapu despised his son Prahlad, who was a devout follower of Lord Vishnu/Krishna. The King, who considered himself more powerful than the Gods couldn’t stand that his own son worshipped another God. So, he ordered his sister to use her blessing in order to kill Prahlad. Following her brother’s instruction, Holika sat on a blazing bonfire with Prahlad on her lap, confident that the boy would perish in the inferno while she remained unscathed. Prahlad kept chanting Lord Vishnu’s name and miraculously survived while Holika, who was supposed to be indestructible to fire, succumbed to the flames because she had used her blessing to harm others. From then onwards, the festival of Holi was held commemorating the death of the demoness Holika which symbolised the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion.
And this symbolism still continues today. A long bamboo pole (Lingo) is adorned with clothing of various colours (Chir) and erected a few days before the day of the festival in Basantapur Durbar Square, Nepal. On the last day, the Lingo is hauled down, carried to Tudikhel and the Chir is burnt to cinders. This practice is known as “Holika Dahan” literally meaning Holika’s death. The ashes are subsequently distributed among devotees and carried home with the belief that it provides protection against evil. This ritual is also known as “Chir Haran” and ties in with another Hindu legend in which Lord Krishna saved Draupadi’s modesty by producing neverending lengths of fabric when the Kauravas tried to strip her (Chir Haran) while her husbands, the Pandavas, sat powerless and humiliated.
Apart from colourful powder and water, people also celebrate Holi with festive delicacies such as gujiya, mathri, malpuas and other regional specialities. Bhaang lassi (cannabis-infused lassi) is also enjoyed as a Holi special drink, but it is served only in choice shops in Nepal.
Unfortunately, we don’t serve Bhaang lassi, but you can certainly celebrate Holi with our special Lassi and other Holi-themed drinks at The Chowk. Holi is a festival that has no religious or ethnic boundaries and promotes love and unity. You are heartily welcome to celebrate Holi with us. See you at The Chowk. Happy Holi!