Holi Away from Home

Student Content Creator, Akash, talks about Holi; what it is and how he celebrates when he’s in the UK.

The story of Holi centers around Hiranyakashipu, a demon king who was granted a boon by Lord Brahma, making him nearly invincible. Hiranyakashipu’s son, Prahlad, was a devout follower of Lord Vishnu, which angered his father. Holika, Hiranyakashipu’s sister, devised a plan to burn Prahlad alive, using a cloak that protected her from fire. However, the cloak flew off and covered Prahlad, saving him while Holika perished in the flames. This event is celebrated on the night before Holi, known as Holika Dahan, symbolizing the triumph of good over evil and the power of faith and devotion.

Holi is typically celebrated on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Phalguna, which falls between late February and mid-March. The festival is marked by vibrant colors, water balloons, and colored powders, which are thrown at friends and family members as a symbol of love and friendship. Holi is also a time for forgiveness and reconciliation, as people seek to mend broken relationships and start anew.

Today, Holi is celebrated by Hindus around the world, as well as by people of other faiths who enjoy the festival’s spirit of unity and joy. In addition to India, Holi is celebrated in Nepal, Bangladesh, and other countries with significant Hindu populations. The festival has also gained popularity in the Western world, where it is often celebrated as a fun and colourful event.

Holi is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervour across India. The festival begins on the night before the full moon day with Holika Dahan, where people light bonfires and pray for the destruction of evil. On the day of Holi, people gather in public places, streets, and open grounds, throwing colours and water on each other, dancing to music, and feasting on traditional delicacies.

Families and friends come together to celebrate, applying colored powder or gulal on each other’s faces and sharing sweets and snacks. Many also use water guns, water balloons, and sprinklers to splash coloured water on one another.

I personally used to celebrate by waking up at 4am and with my brother preparing water balloons and making sure that we have all the necessary “ammunition” then we went to my cousin’s house and had water battles for hours straight. We applied colours to each other, sprayed water on everyone and said “Bura na maano Holi hai” meaning that don’t be angry because its Holi.

At night we dress in traditional Kurta paajama and went to relatives or neighbour’s place, greeted them, brought some food and the host also provides food so it was more like an Indian potluck. The kids played amongst themselves while the parents talked till midnight. It was a very calm but chaotic atmosphere which I really miss.

Holi in the UK is slightly different, people typically celebrate it on the weekend after they finish work. Like this year Holi is on March 25th but people are celebrating it on March 24th as it’s a weekend. The water fight is not done openly but in designated places or someone’s backyard and visiting people’s houses for the potluck is done on two days: the eve of Holika and on the eve of Holi.

Holi is a festival that can be enjoyed by anyone, you can have your own “Holi party” with your friends, you don’t have to do anything fancy, just meet with friends, and have a color or water fight. The Hindu society is going to do a Holi thing in association with RUSU and people can join that if they want to experience a flavour of Holi, but I personally recommend doing that with friends.

If you want to have an authentic Holi experience but don’t know what to do, don’t worry I got you. Try traditional and easy to make dishes to celebrate Holi, no Holi would be complete without Thandai. Or try making any Holi centric dish you want, it’s the easiest way to indulge yourselves in the festivities while playing Bollywood songs on max volume.

Have a good Holi!

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