“Holi is not only about colors and sweets. It reminds of the divine and eternal love of Krishna and Radha. It also reminds one of Narashima, Prahlada and Hiranyakashyapa and thus the fact that ˜Truth and Humanity are invincible forces in the Universal”
Holi – the festival of colors – is undoubtedly the most fun-filled and boisterous of Hindu festival. It’s an occasion that brings in unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and, of course, lots of bright colors!
Holi – the festival of color is marked as the opening festival in Hindu calendar, falls on the full moon day in the month of PHALGUN. People enjoy themselves playing with several colours and celebrate the whole day with much pump and gaiety.
It begins about ten days before the full moon of the month Phalgun (February-March), but is usually only observed for the last three or four days, terminating with the full moon. This is the spring festival of the Hindus. In the spring season all the trees are filled with sweet-smelling flowers. They all proclaim the glory and everlasting beauty of God. They inspire you with hope, joy and a new life, and stir you on to find out the creator and the Indweller, who is hiding Himself in these forms.
Originally Holi was regarded to be the festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land. There are several legends and stories behind Holi. A popular legend says that Holi is remembered for the sacrifice of Holika who burnt herself in fire on this day.
Celebration of Holi festival is characterized by performing Holi puja as per Hindu tradition. Dhuleti, which falls day after Holi Puja, is considered to be the actual festival of colors. Children and youngsters vie with each other use fast and sticky colors to celebrate Holi. It is all fun and joy for them.
There are several legends on Holi which find mentions in Hindu mythology. Holi is regarded to be the opening festival of the Hindu calendar. The famous stories or sagas related to this festival:
Popular Legends associated with Holi
The Holika-Prahlad Episode
The evolution of the term Holi makes an interesting study in itself. Legend has it that it derives its name from Holika, the sister of the mythical megalomaniac kingHiranyakashipu who commanded everyone to worship him. But his little son Prahlad refused to do so. Instead he became a devotee of Vishnu, the Hindu God.
Hiranyakashipu ordered his sister Holika to kill Prahlad and she, possessing the power to walk through fire unharmed, picked up the child and walked into a fire with him. Prahlad, however, chanted the names of God and was saved from the fire. Holika perished because she did not know that her powers were only effective if she entered the fire alone.
This same scene is enacted every year to remind people that those who love God shall be saved, and they that torture the devotee of God shall be reduced to ashes. When Holika was burnt, people abused her and sang the glories of the Lord and of His great devotee, Prahlad. In imitation of that, people even today use abusive language, but unfortunately forget to sing the praises of the Lord and His devotee!
Radha – Krishna
Holi is also celebrated in memory of the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Radha. The young Krishna would complain to his mother Yashoda about why Radha was so fair and he so dark. Yashoda advised him to apply colour on Radha’s face and see how her complexion would change. In the legends of Krishna as a youth he is depicted playing all sorts of pranks with the gopis or cowgirls. One prank was to throw colored powder all over them. So at Holi, images of Krishna and his consort Radha are often carried through the streets. Holi is celebrated with eclat in the villages around Mathura, the birth-place of Krishna.
Legend on Pootana
When the female demoness called Pootana tried to kill baby Krishna, by giving him her poisoned nipples to suckle. The miracle boy Krishna is said to have sucked her nipples so intensely that he drained the demoness of her life.
Hence, the biggest celebration of Holi takes place at Mathura where this incident happened with Krishna. After the death of demoness Pootana, people of Mathura till date celebrates this festival in the evening by lighting bourn fire.
The Story of Dhundhi
It was also on this day that an ogress called Dhundhi, who was troubling the children in the kingdom of Prthu was chased away by the shouts and pranks of village youngsters. Although this female monster had secured several boons that made her almost invincible, shouts, abuses and pranks of boys was a chink in the armor for Dhundi, owing to a curse from Lord Shiva.
The Kamadeva Myth
It is often believed that it was on this day that Lord Shiva opened his third eye and incinerated Kamadeva, the god of love, to death. So, many people worship Kamadeva on Holi-day, with the simple offering of a mixture of mango blossoms and sandalwood paste.
[ Source: http://www.festivalsofindia.in/holi/
Hindu Fasts and Festivals – Swami Sivananda