Yes, I know, Holi is a Hindu festival that started yesterday, but yesterday I was busy writing about the Tibetan Butter Lamp Festival. Luckily the Holi festival also continues through today, March 9th, 2012, so it's all good. In my opinion, the colorful scenes of people celebrating with reckless abandon during Holi are too fantastic to miss, so I just had to write about it. :)
The festival of Holi celebrates faith in Lord Vishnu so strong it led to the burning and defeat of the demoness Holika. Holi also signifies the end of winter and prepares merrymakers for the abundance of the spring harvest. The reason for the orgy of colors from the colored powders thrown about is said to have originated from the fondness Lord Krishna (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) had for playing tricks on village maidens by dowsing them with water and colors. These days the colorful celebration also represents a melting away of social norms and restrictions, so that everyone, rich, poor, men, women, young, old, can shed their inhibitions and celebrate the festival together as Hindus.
Please enjoy this great photo gallery I found showing just a glimpse of the vibrant Holi festivities across India. You can find out more about the who, what, where, when, and why of Holi (as well as safety information) in this article from About.com India Travel. There is also an extensive article about Holi on Wikipedia, which cautions about the chemicals contained in the synthetically dyed powders used during the festival, and suggests some natural and traditional alternatives.
Have you experienced the excitement of a Holi festival in India (or elsewhere)? Please tell us about it in the comments!
May all beings be happy!