Holi is celebrated after the full moon day in the month of phalgun (February – March). It is traditionally a harvest festival. Like all Hindu festivals, the reason for the celebration of Holi can be traced to Hindu scriptures and it commemorates the victory of good over evil. The significance of Holi is that victory of good over evil is achieved by a young devotee through his unshakable devotion for the Lord. The date of Holi celebration depends on the moon and lunar calendar.
Holi Myth based on Prahlada and Demon Holika
Young Prahlada was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu but this was detested by his arrogant father, Hirnakashyipu, who was the king of the land. The father constantly sought for ways to eliminate his son and each time he failed miserably. But this only hardened his stance.
Now, the king had a sister named Holika who was immune to fire. So, she took young Prahlada and entered into fire. Legend has it that Prahlada came out of the fire without any burns but Holika was consumed by the fire. Huge bonfires that are burnt on the day prior to Holi symbolize this event from mythology.
Holi Legend based on Krishna and Radha
Holi is also associated with the evergreen love of Krishna and Radha. Krishna was jealous of Radha’s fair color and asked mother Yashoda for the reason for Radha’s fair color. Yashoda jokingly said if you are so jealous change her complexion by smearing color. Naughty young Krishna was waiting for an idea for a prank and did exactly as his mother suggested.
For Krishna devotees, the festival is spread over two weeks. The most important events are held at Vrindavan, Mathura, Barsnar and Nandgaon.
Holi Myth based on Kamdev and Lord Shiva
Another important Holi legend is associated with Kamdev, the god of love. After the death of Sati, Lord Shiva took to severe meditation. Sati took rebirth as Parvati and tried to impress Lord Shiva. When her feminine charms failed, she took the help of Kamdev. Not knowing the seriousness of Lord Shiva’s meditation, Kamdev used his arrow of love on Shiva. The infuriated Shiva opened his third eye and turned Kamdev into ashes. This happened on the Holi day.
Holi Story based on Demon Dhundi
Another myth revolves around the demon Dhundi. She had received several boons through intense penance. Soon, she became arrogant and started killing children and eating them. But once Lord Shiva cursed her that she will be helpless before the pranks of young boys. One day a few boys in an intoxicated state took on her and started hurling abuses. The pranks of the boys increased as time went by and she could no longer tolerate it. Finally, she ran away from the area.