Holi or Holikotsava, the festival of colors, is celebrated with great vigor and joy on the day of the full moon in the month of Phalgun (March). The festival is celebrated for two days.

Legend has it that Holi derives its name from Holika, the daughter of the mythical king Hiranyakasipu who commanded everyone to worship him. However, his little son Prahlad refused and instead he became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. In order to eliminate Prahlad, Hiranyakasipu and Holika decided to take advantage of the power Holika had of walking through the fire unharmed. Holika walked into the fire with Prahlad; however, Prahlad who was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu remained unharmed. Holika lost her life, as her powers were only effective is she entered the fire alone.

On the evening of the first day of Holi bonfires are lit, symbolically burning the demon 'Holika' and celebrating the triumph of good over evil. On the second day, people smear 'Gulal' or colored powder often mixed with water on one another and dance to the beats of the drums.

Updated on 7th June, 2005

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