Holi, also called the festival of sharing and love or the festival of colours, is a Hindu two-day festival in the Spring. This year the festival starts at sundown on 17 March to sundown on 18 March, with the first day of the festival called Chhoti Holi or Holika Dahan and the second Dhuleti or Rangwali Holi. The holiday is officially celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Phalguna of the Hindu Calendar.
This popular ancient Hindu festival traditionally celebrates the triumph of good over evil. Many Hindus believe that this holiday shows that the devotion of Hindu people can augment the power of Lord Vishnu. The celebration also honours Lord Krishna, a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu.
In addition to its religious aspects, Holi also celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring, the blossoming of love, and for many it is a festive day to meet others, play and laugh, forgive and forget, and repair broken relationships. The festival also celebrates the beginning of a good spring harvest season.
As well as representing the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil, it is also said to be the enactment of a game the Hindu god Lord Krishna played with his consort Radha and the gopis, or milkmaids.
Celebrants light bonfires, throw colourful powder called gulal, eat sweets, and dance to traditional folk music. A man, covered in the bright colours of Holi, showers the crowd with a handful of red powder during the festivities.
Some of the foods eaten at Holi include
- Thandai – an Indian cold drink prepared with a mixture of almonds, fennel seeds, watermelon kernels, rose petals, pepper, poppy seeds, cardamom, saffron, milk and sugar.
- Dahi Bhalle – lentil fritters soaked in yoghurt
- Puran Poli – sweet flatbread
- Rasmalai – dessert consisting of soft paneer balls immersed in chilled creamy milk.
- Badam Phirni – like a rich rice pudding with almonds, cardamom, saffron and sugar
- Coconut Milk Murukku – deep fried snack made with rice flour and dal flour
- Bhang Pakora – made with gram flour, turmeric, dried mango powder, chili, onions and potatoes