Holi is a festival in India that celebrates the spring season through color and community, and the fight for good over evil. We invite you to Cultivate Community and Celebrate the Holi Festival in 2020 with us and our partner, Hara World, to Learn, Serve and Immerse on a zero waste adventure through North India with stops in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Bikaner.
This world famous celebration has been replicated across the world, but nobody does it like India. The Hindu holiday is a celebration of transitioning from winter to spring, and the beauty that comes along with the new season, such as new plantations and preparation for monsoon, a major element needed in India to grow fresh food. Although the festival can often feel like it’s been prepared for and celebrated all week long, here we’ve broken down the two days of the festival and the significance of the bonfire on day 1 and throwing colors on day 2.
Day 1: The story of Holika Dehan
Holika Dehan occurs on the first night of Holi, this year on Monday March 9. Holika Dehan is celebrated with a bonfire to signify the victory of good over evil. In Hinduism, it is said that King Hiranyakashipu, a greedy King, received a blessing from Lord Vishnu that allowed him to be immortal, however there were specific parameters around this blessing.
He could not be killed by man or women.
He could not be killed with a weapon.
He could not be killed on the ground.
And he could not be killed indoors, or outdoors.
We know what you’re thinking–yes, immortal. So what is it we’re missing?
You see, the King was quite the arrogant man and enforced all the people of his community to worship him over any Hindu god or goddess. The King’s son, a devotee of Lord Vishnu, refused to worship his father as he felt he was quite evil for enforcing such a rule and not allowing him to practice his religion in full.
As punishment for his son, the King made him sit with his sister, Holika, in the bonfire! Evil, right?
The worst part is, Holika was given a fire resistant cape but somehow died during the fire while the son survived, as the cape was blown away onto the son’s back during the blaze of the bonfire. Due to the King’s evil act, Holika passed away but in replacement, Prahlad came alive to avenge her father.
Prahlad is a mythical creature who is half-man, half-tiger. As revenge for the King’s cruel act, the creature who is nor man or woman pushes the King to stand between the door frame, which is nor inside or outside, picks up the King so he is no longer on the ground, and bites into him with his tiger teeth. Because the incident happened under a full moon, which was neither day or night, the King dies and the Holika bonfire lives on every year symbolizing that good will always conquer evil. To this day, the Holika bonfire brings communities together to circle the fire and celebrate the season of goodness.
Why we throw colors on Holi
The famous act of throwing colors with your community takes place on Holi day, this year on Tuesday March 10th. It celebrates the last day of the winter and the start of spring, a momentous day for India as we transition from cold to warm weather, and ready the fields for another fruitful harvest.
The celebration, adorning friends and family with kumkum, turmeric, and natural colors was started to showcase forgiveness and bring a fresh start along with the season–similar to the boring way we “spring clean” at the start of the season for a fresh start as the warm weather rolls in.
Unfortunately, with the effects of globalization, natural colors have quickly turned into artificial colors that tend to stain clothing and clog natural water bodies. However, this Holi on our Cultivating Community over Holi trip, we’ll be celebrating the festival with natural, biodegradable colors to bring goodness to our communities. In some parts of India, communities also celebrate by throwing and adorning others with flowers instead of colors. Kids join in with their pichkaris (water guns) to ensure nobody gets away from them without a splash of color for the festival.
What to expect on our Holi trip
This Holi, we’ve partnered with Hara World to curate a social impact adventure through Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, and Bikaner. Here’s what you can expect:
Hear the stories of social entrepreneurs and how their ventures impact vulnerable youth and women
Serve pilgrims in Gurudwara Bangla Sahib
Hitch a ride with farmers on their camels to sleep under the stars in the Rajasthani desert
Engage in workshops led by youth leading the green revolution in India onsite at Hara House, India's first zero waste guesthouse
Celebrate Holi, the festival of colors, in Bikaner, Rajasthan
In 9-days, immerse in the spirit of the festival and giveback through engaging with young innovators bringing social goodness to North India.
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