Holi or Phagwah is the most colourful festival celebrated by followers of the Vedic Religion. It is celebrated as harvest festival as well as welcome-festival for the spring season in India.
Phagwah is derived from the name of the Hindu month “Phalgun” because it is on the full moon in the month of Phalgun, Holi is celebrated. The month of Phalgun ushers India in Spring when seeds sprout, flowers bloom and the country rises from winter’s slumber.
Holi comes from the word Hola, meaning to offer oblation or prayer to the Almighty as Thanksgiving for good harvest. Holi is also associated with the Puranic story of Holika, the sister of demon-king Hiranyakashipu. The demon-king punished his son, Prahlad in a variety of ways to denounce Lord Naraayana. He failed in all his attempts. Finally, he asked his sister Holika to take Prahlad in her lap and enter a blazing fire. Holika had a boon to remain unburned even inside fire. Holika did her brother’s bidding. But, Holika’s boon ended by this act of supreme sin against the Lord’s devotee and was burnt to ashes and Prahlad came out unharmed. Holi is celebrated every year to remind people that those who love God shall be saved and they who torture the devotee of God shall be reduced to ashes.
Holi is also associated with the Divine Dance known as Raaslila staged by Lord Krishna for the benefit of his devotees of Vrindavan commonly known as Gopis.
In the final analysis, whatever the route cause of Holi or Phagwah may be, it has traditionally been celebrated in high spirit without any distinction of cast, creed, colour, race, status or sex. It is the occasion when sprinkling coloured powder (gulal) breaks all barriers of discrimination or coloured water on each other so that every body looks the same and universal brotherhood is reaffirmed.