Holi: The Festival of Colors

(Post by Eliz Kochniarczyk, Kathryn Mathews, Yaritza Vidaurre)

On Sunday, March 23rd, The Hindu Temple and Community Center of Michiana celebrated Holi, the festival of colors. Holi is a lively celebration which engages the traditions of several Hindu legends. It is also a holiday where, for one day, caste is forgotten and everyone joins together in celebration.  

Radha Krishna 2
*Idols of Radha (Right) and Krishna (Left).

One Holi tradition is the throwing of colorful powder in reenactment of the playful altercation between young Lord Krishna and his childhood sweetheart, Radha. According to the myth, Krishna, who is known for his playful nature, smeared colorful powder onto Radha’s pale skin.

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Eliz, Yaritza, Kathryn, and Megan** pose for a photo after throwing powder. Megan is wearing an Anarkali, which is a traditional Indian dress from the Gujarat region.

The significance of the holiday’s name “Holi” comes from the story of Holika, a legend where good triumphed over evil. The legend begins with the hero, Prahlad, and his father, the demon king Hiranyakshyap. The demon king wished the world to worship him, however, Prahlad devoted himself instead, to the Lord Vishnu. In order to rid himself of his errant son, Hiranyakshyap asked his sister, Holika to help him. Holika had  a supernatural power that allowed her to enter fire and not be burned, therefore she planned on entering the fire with Prahlad on her lap, ensuring he would be burned. However, her sinister intentions for Prahlad  backfired. Instead, Prahlad was spared from the flames due to his devotion of Lord Vishnu, while Holika perished. 

Holika (Bonfire) (1)
*A Hindu community member lights the Holi Pragya fire while the Pundit, pictured left of the community member, blesses it.

Worshippers reenact the legend by building a large Holi Pragya, or bonfire, to signify the burning of Holika. Once the fire is set ablaze, worshippers remove their shoes and encircle the fire in a counterclockwise motion, placing offerings of flowers, coconuts, and various other food items into the fire. One member described the offerings as an act of “burning the bad karmas.”

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*Members of the community gather around the Pragya and provide offerings.

Following the Pragya, people gather inside the Temple once again for the Holi Pooja service, which includes the daily Aarti prayer.

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*People gather in the Temple for the Holi Pooja.

Chanting begins again once everyone finishes entering the Temple, which leads up to the Aarti chant that occurs at 7 P.M. daily. Musicians freely played throughout the night following the Aarti and Pooja prayers.

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*The lead chanter, in white, is pictured above, accompanied by the male chorus and musicians.

After the Pooja ends, children and adults throw colored paper confetti and continue to throw powder at one another in celebration as the festival concludes.

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*Families pictured above taking part in concluding Holi festivities.

*Approval for these photographs was granted by the community representative found on the general consent form, or consent form one.

**Approval for this photograph was granted by Megan, found on consent form two.


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