Holi, also known as the ‘Festival of Colours’ is a Hindu festival that celebrates the beginning of spring and brings joy to its revellers. It gets its name from the colourful powder they throw at each other. 

The first day is called Holika Dahan, where people light a bonfire after sunset, chant mantras and sing songs. The next day is when the colours are famously thrown at one another.

Last year, however, many of the festivals’ events were affected due to the pandemic, as well as the Indian government advising people to avoid large gatherings, to limit the spread of the virus.

This year it took place from Sunday, March 28th to Monday, March 29th.

Again, many of this year’s celebrations were not able to go ahead due to the restrictions, however, some events did take place, but virtually, for example, the digital Leicester Holi, which was live-streamed and was attended by more than 6,000 people

The story behind Holi

There are many stories, however, there is one that is the most widely believed, which is about the defeat of the demon king, Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu was granted a boon from Shiva. The rules were that he could not be killed by animals nor humans, not be killed indoors nor outdoors, not be killed during the day nor night, could be not killed on land, water or air, and finally could not be killed by handheld or projectile weapons.

When the power had gotten to his head and he began to kill anyone who disobeyed him. He also hated Vishnu who had killed his elder brother, Hiranyaksha. His son Prahlada however was a great devotee of Vishnu. Once the king had found out about this, he recruited his sister (Holika) to torture his son so that Prahlada comes out of devotion. 

They formulated a plan in which his sister’s cloak would protect her when she and Prahald got pushed into the fire, however, this did not end up happening, instead, the cloak flew from Holika’s shoulders and covered Prahald, so Holika ended up burning to death in lieu. This occasion of good triumphing over evil is now celebrated as Holi.

In the end, Vishnu appeared and took the form of a half-human and half-lion, the avatar Narasimha, met him on a doorstep (indoors nor outdoors) appeared at dusk (day nor night) placed the king on his lap(nor land, water or air) and attacked him with his lion claws (not handheld or projectile weapons).