Dilma Setyarini

31 Mar 2023 - 3 min read

Holi Festival: What is Holi and How is It Celebrated?

Bollywood movies, Indian music videos, and TV shows where people assemble, sing, dance, and hurl water and colored powder at one another depict the Holi festival. So, what is this festival about? This article will teach you the rich religious tradition behind its celebration.

What is Holi?

Holi festival

Sandra Seitamaa via Unsplash

Holi is an ancient Hindu festival to welcome spring to this day. During the Holi, everyone throws powder in the air, creating brightness and color in everything you see. This powder is made from natural ingredients; the blue color is usually from Indigofera plants. Holi is also a new beginning, where one can let go of all inhibitions and start anew.

Holi is one of the oldest festivals in India. For Indian Hindus, Holi also known as the Festival of Colors is an occasion to share the love. On the first day of the celebration, they will make campfires to symbolize burning the past to make way for a vibrant future.

How Did Holi Celebration Start?

Holi Festival

Shuvra Podder via Unsplash

This celebration originated from the Holika Dahlan ritual, also known as "lighting from a bonfire." This ceremony represents the triumph of good over evil. The legend of the Demon King Hiranyakashyap, who sought to murder his son Prahlad, is where the history of Holi first starts. Even the tree he was bound to was unharmed when Prahlad was burned with the help of his sister Holika. Many people have believed since that day that good can prevail over evil. The Holi festival also stands for the triumph of virtue over any evil that stands in its way.

The story of Radha and Krishna inspires the colorful powder. Young Krishna, who has a dark complexion, is jealous of his lover, Radha, bright complexion. One day, Krishna changed his lover's skin color to match his own. Following the legend, many young Indians deliberately throw Holi powder at their lovers as a token of their love.

Who and Where Celebration of the Holi Festival?

Holi festival in Spanish Fork

John Thomas via Unsplash

The Holi festival is celebrated in countries where the population adheres to Hinduism, such as India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. India and Nepal are two ideal places to experience the splendid Holi.

Goa, often called the party center in India, is perfect for relishing a lively festivity. Be prepared for someone to throw colored water balloons or gulals at you during Holi.

The celebration also takes place in Nepal, specifically in Pokhara. It begins the day before with a ritual of making campfires, a symbol of freedom from bad things. On the day of the Holi, most businesses are closed.

Kathmandu, Nepal, is nice to enjoy local cuisine and shopping during Holi. Tourists may want to visit the Thamel area, where restaurants and shops are open.

Most countries that have Indian immigrant communities celebrate it as well. The United States also celebrates Holi, as there is a large Indian immigrant community. Anyone can join Holi in America, regardless of race, religion, or age.

How is Holi Festival Celebrated?

Holi Festival


Holi has two events, namely Holika Dahan and Rangwali Holi. Holika Dahan starts on the night before Rangwali Holi. Everyone is eager to be the first to throw Holi powder during the festival.

Holi is lively every year. At the peak of Holi, participants will splash water, throw colorful powder and eat sweet treats in the afternoon. Then, they visit friends and family in the evening. Holi has been designated a national holiday, usually in March.

Even though Holi celebrations officially last just two days, various regions of India observe different traditions and schedules. For example, Uttar Pradesh hosts the longest Holi in India, spanning 16 days. Apart from the common agenda, they have sword fighting and shield combats in Uttar Pradesh. The celebration starts the day before a national holiday in eastern states such as West Bengal and Odisha. Then in some northern states, celebrations last over a week.

That's a quick explanation of Holi and how people celebrate it. If you can travel to India to celebrate Holi firsthand, that’d be awesome. Celebrate Holi worldwide by planning trips with Traveloka!

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