Holi - the festival of love and colours - is celebrated with enthusiasm throughout the entire country of India. It lasts for one day and a night beginning on the evening of the full Moon in the month of Falgun. It began as a welcoming of Spring. This tradition may date back to as far as 300BC!
The day before Holi, Holika Dahan, a giant bonfire is usually assembled and lit at a major crossroads in the centre of town. The wood is collected starting up to 40 days prior to the festival. The lighting of this bonfire symbolises good over evil and the banishing of evil spirits. There are many legends and stories associated with Holi and how it began and what it represents but they all come down to the defeat of bad by good. The participation in this festival allows everyone to believe again in truth and honesty. The following morning the ashes from the fires are rubbed onto the body.
The day of Holi - Dhuleti- is meant for only pure enjoyment. This festival brings everyone in the country together, not only Hindus. Disputes, enemies, social status and hardships of any kind are all put aside to celebrate joy and the bonds between family and friends and community.
Holi allows everyone to get up out of their winter slumbers and celebrate life again. Coloured water and powders of all colours are thrown over everyone. Dancing and drinking is popular too throughout the day and night. Visiting family and friends at the end of the day, cleaning the house and exchanging gifts and sweet treats is also part of the Holi traditions.
The colourful tradition is said to come from a legend of Lord Krishna and his worry about his blue skin, which led to smearing the face of his crush Rahda with colours of his choice. This evolved over time as the Holi festival tradition.
Many smaller traditions and rituals are carried out across the country significant to the specific community and the traditions that have been passed down. The breaking of buttermilk pots by a human pyramid, 6 days of celebrations, women taking command, dancing, singing and playing pranks are some of the local traditions.