holi facts

15 Interesting Holi Facts You Probably Didn’t Know

Have you ever heard about Holi? Well, Holi is a Hindu festival that commemorates the arrival of spring, love, and the birth of a new life. Every year, the Holi celebration ushers in a carnivalesque feeling among people of all ages, from smearing each other with colors to sharing a dish of tasty gujiyas. People light bonfires and pour roasted grains, popcorn, coconut, and chickpeas over them on Holi’s first night. And on the next day, they take to the streets for a day of fun and paint throwing. All in all, Hindus enjoy a good time by smearing paint on each other and splashing colored water.

Some families hold religious rites, but for the most part, Holi is a celebration of color. It’s a vibrant festival with dancing, singing, and powder paint and colored water being thrown. Despite the joy that Holi brings to many people, especially Hindus, there are many fascinating and marvelous Holi facts that will surprise you. In case you didn’t know those facts, we will tell you one by one.

1. The Commemoration Of The Triumph Of Good Over Evil

The origin of Holi comes from the Hindu legend. According to the legend, The King of Evil Asuras, Monarch Hiranyakashipu became conceited and demanded that everyone worship him as god. However, Prahlada, the king’s son, disagreed and opted to remain loyal to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu became enraged and subjected his son to harsh flaming punishments

And then, the king’s sister, Holika, duped him into joining her on a pyre while shielded by a cloak. Suddenly, the cloak flew from Holika’s body and encased Prahlada, saving Prahlada’s life as the flames raged. Vishnu later arrived in the form of Narsimha, a half-man, half-lion who slew the monarch. This is why Holi symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.

2. Amazing Bonfires In Holika Dahan

In India, the event begins the night before Holi with the lighting of bonfires, symbolizing the fire that killed Holika. This event is called Holika Dahan. On the Purnima Tithi (Full Moon Night) of the Phalguna month, this practice is carried out.

During Holika Dahan, people gather around fires, which are sometimes topped with a Holika effigy, to celebrate the arrival of spring. In addition, the heat of the flames is believed to represent the onset of warmer weather. And then, people gather around the Holika bonfire to perform religious ceremonies. During this religious rite, people ask for forgiveness from the god and pray for the end of their evil.

3. The Colors Symbolize Equality and Love

Holi, also known as the ‘festival of colors,’ honors the beautiful hues of spring, and the colorful powders and color waters represent flames. However, there’s more to why people cover each other with pigmented ‘abir’ powder and ‘gulal’ paste. Colors level the playing field, making everyone equal regardless of caste, culture, or religion.

Initially, the only color used for Holi was red (gulal). However, in recent years, a wide range of colors, ranging from green to yellow, have become available to paint one another. Not to mention, Holi is also known as the day of colored love for couples because of the love narrative of Krishna and Radha.

4. Sweet Taste For Holi Celebration

No celebration is complete without a delectable feast, and Holi is all about sweet delicacies. During Holi, Gujiya is an essential food that is prepared only in that festival. It has flaky pastry pockets filled with dried fruit served with sugar syrup which makes it incredibly sweet. Moreover, there are also Malpua, deep-fried small pancakes that will make your stomach happy. Furthermore, people also eat Thandai, a sweet, milky drink flavored with cardamom, saffron, fennel seeds, and rosewater is offered to fuel all that enthusiastic paint tossing.

5. Bhang Made From Cannabis Leaves

Holi is also known for the consumption of Bhang, an intoxicating substance. People commonly use it in drinks and desserts, and many people consume it during the event. However, do you know that Cannabis leaves are used to make Bhang?

On the day of Holi, people also consume Bhang to get a strong high. Bhang is typically served after being blended with milk to form a Bhang Milkshake, Bhang Lassi, or Bhang Thandai. A rich and flavorful thandai is made using almonds, cashews, pistachios, melon seeds, poppy seeds, peppercorns, rose petals, and Bhang. According to the legend, Bhang also made Shiva feel rejuvenated, so that it became Shiva’s favorite.

6. Nepal Holi Unique Traditions

Although this amazing celebration comes from India, Holi is also celebrated by other countries all over the world, including Nepal. Holi in Nepal begins with a traditional ceremony, which differs slightly from the way it is celebrated in India. One week before Holi, a bamboo stick tied with Chir, a bamboo pole, which is raised in the Basantapur Durbar Square and many other parts of Nepal.

Furthermore, as good luck charms, strips of fabric are fastened to the pole and afterwards burned in a bonfire. And then, people in Nepal hit each other with water balloons known as ‘lolas,’ in addition to the traditional paint and powder.

7. Behind The Ingredients Of Colors

Holi is indeed a colorful celebration that will amaze anyone who sees it. It is full of vibrant paint and splash powder that will create its own beauty. However, do you know what the colorants are made of? Holi’s colors were originally derived from plants. Chrysanthemums were used as yellow, while pomegranate or red sandalwood were used as red. Green came from pulverized neem leaves or henna leaves, while yellow and crimson came from turmeric, a popular spice that turns a vivid yellow color at neutral pH. What makes it more interesting, curcumin turns red when exposed to a base. Not to mention, indigo was used as blue; and charcoal was used as black. 

Today, colors became brighter and in some cases more toxic, thanks to more advanced synthetic chemistry. When manufactured in powder form, some of the more innocuous modern Holi colors, known as gulal in Hindi, are a mixture of more than 95% cornstarch blended with food, drug, and cosmetic-grade colors. These pigments, known in the United States as FD&C colors, are the same ones that give confectionery its rainbow of colors.

8. Dhamal Dance As A Fun Ritual

The Holi festival is primarily a celebration of joy. During the festival days, people spend a lot of time doing entertaining things. One of the fun activities people do is watching traditional performances such as Dhamal Dance. It was folk dance whose origins may be traced back to the Mahabharat. The great beats inspire people to sing and dance. 

Dhamal dance is performed during Holi to celebrate the defeat of evil This dance is used to be performed by the villagers once their crop is ready for harvesting. During the action, the males form a semicircle and bow down to the ground to pray for Lord Ganesh’s, Goddess Bhavani, and the Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh’s blessings.

9. Happy Holi Became Tragedy In Bihar

Holi in Bihar is all about food, color, and having a good time. However, in reality the crowds and chaos has created a tragedy in 2021. During Holi in Bihar, at least 41 people were killed in a variety of situations, including group confrontations and vehicle accidents. It all started with five people being killed in Patna, apparently due to personal animosity, while three children were burnt to death in Gaya on Sunday night during the ‘Holika dahan’ celebration. And those accidents and tragedy continued until the next day caused the death of around 41 people.

Even though Bihar has been declared a ‘dry’ state, drunk driving was reported on the occasion of Holi leading to several road accidents. At some places, clashes were reported ostensibly due to the forthcoming panchayat election in the state.

10. Chhau Maks Dance Performance At Holi Festival

Holi, a Hindu festival of color, is celebrated throughout India to commemorate the end of the cold winter and the arrival of spring. One of the popular dances that is performed during Holi represents the warmth of the spring season is Chhau Dance. Chhau is an acrobatic mask dance genre from Eastern India. It is traditionally conducted to commemorate the Sun. 

Moreover, the great dance is also known for its colorful masks, rhythmic drum beats, intense acrobatic maneuvers, and somersaults. Behind the joy that comes from the dance, there are stories based on legendary narratives. The dancers wear bright masks that depict various gods, goddesses, demons, monsters, and animals such as lions, tigers, bears, monkeys, and so on. Not to mention, the Chhau Dance is listed on the UNESCO Representative List of Humanity’s Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

11. Holi Celebration Cause COVID-19 Cases Surged In India 

Holi, which symbolizes the arrival of spring in India, is celebrated with colored powders and water splashing all around the Hindu-majority country. In 2021, thousands of worshippers ignored coronavirus protection methods as well as social distancing rules to participate in the festival. This activity leads to the increase of COVID-19 cases in India.

Multiple states in India have reintroduced some type of public gathering restrictions in response to a troubling second increase in COVID-19 cases. However, it didn’t work well as Holi itself is a week-long festival for people in villages around Mathura in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh and other regions of India. On the third day of Holi celebration, India reported 275 new COVID-19 deaths, the most this year. Not to mention, the spike fills hospital beds in big states like Maharashtra. As a result, the total number of people who have died has risen to 160,441.

12. Virtual Holi Celebration In Metaverse

Holi is a celebration that causes crowds, so many of them are canceled due to the pandemic. However, thanks to the advancement of technology, today people can gather virtually to celebrate Holi. For example, in 2022, there is a company who will hold the Holi celebration in metaverse. 

As part of its hyper-local strategy to promote regional pride and create unique customer experiences, Tata Tea Premium made its metaverse debut by organizing a first-of-its-kind Holi party on the platform. When you first access the site, you can dress up in your favorite avatars and play a variety of fun Holi activities. To add to the excitement, the party featured a special holiday performance by Sachet-Parampara, a music superstar, composer, and lyricist duo.

13. World’s Largest Holi Celebration

In case you want to join the largest Holi celebration, then you should come to Dera Sacha Sauda in Sisra, Haryana.  It was true that the Uttar Pradesh cities of Brij, Mathura, and Avadh were known for their Holi festivals. However, this is about to change, as the Dera Sacha Sauda in Sirsa, Haryana has set a new world record for the largest Holi celebration ever recorded.

This World Record is the latest addition to Saint Dr. Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Ji Insan’s long list of accomplishments. Water sprinklers began raining color over the 900,000 volunteers gathered in the pandal, which spanned 50 acres, as soon as he clicked a button. The Asia Book of Records promptly recognized this great achievement.

14. Unique Holi Celebrations In India

India is a diverse country, and Holi is one of the many festivals that brings cultures and traditions together. Although it is primarily a Hindu festival, it is also observed by people of various faiths. In fact, there are 6 types of unique Holi celebration in India: Lathmar Holi, Holla Mohalla, Basanta Utsav, Kumaoni Holi, Rang Panchami, and also Sigmo.

Lathmar Holi is a popular variant of Holi that is celebrated a week before the Holi holiday. Meanwhile, a day before Holi, there is a festival called Holla Mohalla to show off martial arts and other military skills. Moreover, Basanta Utsav is another Holi celebration where people celebrate with much pomp and show. Furthermore, people ignite the Cheer firewood pyre (a blaze with a green Paiya tree branch in the middle) during Kumaoni Holi. In Rang Panchami, people light a pyre of firewood, signifying the victory of good over evil, and then apply color to each other the next day. And last, there is Sigmo where people do street dances and sing traditional folk music.

15. Maharashtra Man Dead In Accident After Being Hit By Balloon During Holi Festival

Although the Holi festival always brings joy and fun, it can cause an unexpected accident which leads to injury or even death. In the 2022 Holi celebration, a 54-year-old man was killed when a youngster tossed a water-filled balloon at a scooterist, setting off a chain of events that resulted in a road disaster. The deceased lost balance and control after being hit by a water balloon from a boy who was on a truck hauling wood for a Holi bonfire.

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