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Home   »   Holi Festival   »   Holi History

Holi History

Holi, the festival of colors is beset with an interesting history. What most of you may not be aware of is that the origin of this vibrant festival, like most Indian festivals has mythological connection. As per the stories, the festival is related to two deities, Lord Vishnu and his incarnation Lord Krishna.

The tales associated with this colorful fete in India are as interesting as this strikingly beautiful festival.

History of Holi
According to the Holi history, during pre-Christian era there lived a demon king Hiranyakashyap who had gained power performing yagna. He had the evil aim of defeating the gods of heaven and avenging on his brother’s death. Brother of Hiranyakashyap was killed by Lord Vishnu. After gaining power,
the tyrant ruler ordered the people of his kingdom to worship him as God and not the gods of heaven. Everyone had no choice but to do so except his own son Prahlad who continued worshipping Lord Vishnu.
The little boy was fearless and an ardent follower of Lord Vishnu. To destroy this last devotee of the Lord Vishnu, Hirayakashyap ordered his sister Holika to kill the boy by burning him in a pyre. Holika had attained a boon of not getting burnt in fire and thus she sat with Prahlad in her lap on the pyre. Lord Vishnu saved the boy and despite the boon Holika got burnt because of her evil notion. From destruction of Holika, thus came the word Holi, which marks the victory of good over evil. The demon king Hiranyakashyap too was killed by Narsimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

History Behind Holi Celebration
If you are stumped about how Holi became a colorful festival, well this is attached to another interesting story. Lord Krishna, the incarnation of Lord Vishnu played pranks on village girls by drenching them with water and colors. Initially, this angered them but later they found this amusing too and the sport became a loved activity in the village.
The village boys too participated in this popular sport and everyone enjoyed this to the fullest. Playing Holi with color got popularized from this era, which got its mention through several colorful paintings, sculptures, scriptures and murals.

Holika destruction or Holika Dahan as it is popularly known is now a custom that is followed on the full moon night or the eve with women praying to Lord Vishnu and a pyre being burnt to ashes. This marks the end of all evil and victory of good over evil, even till today.

Holi is one of the most awaited festivals in the country especially, for kids. Celebrations begin right from the morning with special prayer to Lord Vishnu.

History of Holi however, becomes ambiguous as the festival is mentioned in several places like a stone inscription of 300 BC, King Harsha’s Ratnavali, and Hampi temple belonging to the 16th century. In eastern India however, this day is celebrated as birth anniversary of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. To celebrate this festival after knowing its history is even more thrilling.

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