25. märts, 2024

Holi festival

While Holi marks the arrival of spring in the northern hemisphere, it also holds religious reverence in this part of the world, it is also known as the “festival of colors” or the “festival of love”.

Holi signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring, end of winter. Holi is deeply regarded as the festival meet and greets others, play and laugh, forget and forgive, and repair broken relationships. It is also considered a thanksgiving for a good harvest.

The Holi festival typically lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar  month of Phalgun, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan(burning of demon Holika and the following day as Holi.

The Holi festival typically lasts for a night and a day, starting on the evening of the Purnima (Full Moon day) falling in the Vikram Samvat Hindu Calendar month of Phalgun, which falls somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March in the Gregorian calendar. The first evening is known as Holika Dahan(burning of demon Holika and the following day as Holi.

How Holi is Celebrated

As part of the celebration, people drench each other with coloured water or powders of different colours. The youth, in particular, celebrate the occasion with much joy and vigour, applying colours onto everyone around them, even the passers-by on the streets. Seeing people all stained in colours is not an uncommon sight over the few days surrounding Holi. Most people also shy away from going outdoors lest they are “attacked” by balloons filled with colour-filled water.

Along with the wide spread use of colours, a “Holika” bonfire is lit using heaps of dried twigs and branches that are gathered before Holi.

History Behind Holi.

Holi’s traditions vary throughout the country and have their roots in Indian mythology. In many places the festival is associated with the legend of Hiranyakashipu, a demon king in ancient India. Hiranyakashipu enlisted the help of his sister, Holika, to kill his son, Prahlada, a devoted worshipper of Vishnu. In an attempt to burn Prahlada, Holika sat with him on a pyre while wearing a cloak that protected her from the fire. But the cloak protected Prahlada instead, and Holika burned. Later that night Vishnu succeeded in killing Hiranyakashipu, and the episode was heralded as a triumph of good over evil. In many places in India, a large pyre is lit on the night before Holi to celebrate this occasion.

In other places, the story of Krishna and Radha is central. The story goes that Krishna, a Hindu deity who is considered a manifestation of Vishnu, fell in love with the milkmaid Radha, but he was embarrassed that his skin was dark blue and hers fair. In order to rectify this, he playfully colored her face during a game with her and the other milkmaids. This is thought to be an origin of the colored water and powder throwing. The general merrymaking is also seen as characteristic of Krishna, who is known for his pranks and play.

The Story Behind Holi.

According to an age-old legend, Holi commemorates the burning of Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap was a King in the Satyuga period who had developed special powers through the worship of God. With these powers, Hiranyakashyap was able to fulfill all his wishes and this led Him to believe that He was God. He stated that he was the greatest and demanded that everyone worship Him.

Hiranyakashyap had a son by the name of Prahlaad who was a great devotee of God. He used to worship Vishnu most ardently and despite his father's many warnings, threats and attempts to get rid of him, Prahlaad persisently and fervently pursued in his worship of Vishnu. Fearlessly, he rejected his fathers' claims of being the greatest and instead kept reminding him that there was a greater power than him - Lord Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashyap so much so that he tried to get rid of him many times. However, each attempt failed.

King Hiranyakashyap then called upon  his sister, Holika, who was immune to the effects of fire. Holika was instructed to hold Prahlaad in a huge fire in an attempt once again to get rid of him. She took Prahlaad into her arms and stepped into the fire. In the event, Holika was burnt but Prahlaad remained unharmed.

King Hiranyakashyap finally decided to kill Prahlaad himself. He demanded Prahlaad to show him Vishnu. At that moment, Narsimha – the man-lion form of God appeared and Hiranyakashyap was vanquished.

The Real Meaning of Holi.

The above story has a deep spiritual meaning. Hiranyakashyap represents “ego”, which when takes control, makes one forget about his own consciousness, so that the person starts thinking himself as the supreme power. Prahalad represents a person with self realization who is in touch with ones consciousness. The consciousness cannot be burned, cut, dried or made wet by anything. It is imperishable and everlasting.

All those people who have acquired self-realization via Bhakti, Karma or Gyana path are in a state of God acquaintance and nothing can destroy them.

The obstacles to the pathway of self-realization are “attachment, anger, desire, greed and ego”. When all these negative factors overpower any individual, it leads one away from self realization or away from consciousness.

Holika represents the sum total of the negative forces in the body, which can kill you or harm you, if not controlled in time.

The practice of burning Holi a day before the festival of color signifies burning of all negative thoughts or emotions embedded in the mind and also to neutralize all the poison arising due to the negative feelings.

As soon as the negativity is removed from the mind, the spiritual vision opens up or the knowledge of the consciousness is attained. Once this is done, only the positive thoughts remain, which is celebrated as sharing and loving each other, the next day.

Sharing love is most important in removing all the above mentioned five obstacles to self-realization. Spreading love reduces anger as well as desires, detaches one from various attachments, reduces greed, and brings humility in a person. Burning ego and other negative qualities also burns the ill feeling amongst each other and makes everybody a friend.


At Kriyayoga Research Institute, Jhunsi, Allahabad, all festivals are celebrated in their true form, in the way of deep meditation. On the occasion of Holi, the true essence of the festival is celebrated at the Institute in the style of Kriyayoga meditation, so as to realize the highest power of joy within oneself (Prahlaad).

In Kriyayoga meditation, when we concentrate on Self, we perceive different spiritual colours and divine music on the screen of Agya Chakra situated within the medualla oblongata of the hindbrain. This divine music is called the knowledge of saamveda. As we dive and swim in the ocean of spiritual colours that we perceive in meditation, we experience an ocean of knowledge and power within.

The divine art of playing with different spiritual colours perceived in Kriyayoga meditation is called the celebration of Holika (holi festival).  When we become tuned with the mantras of saamveda and spiritual colours, we experience our Immortal nature. At the same time, our divine ego starts playing tricks within us and arouses in us the false concept that there is no God and that oneself is the only God. This state of misunderstanding, where the meditator experiences oneself as the only existing God is called the state of Hiranayakashyap.

As we go deeper into the practice of Kriyayoga, we attain a higher state of consciousness – Vishnu consciousness, in which we realize that our power lies on the platform of eternal humbleness. At this stage, we experience the existence of Self as highest of high and lowest of low, wisest of wise and most ignorant as well. This stage of realization is called Narasimha consciousness and the joy that we experience then is called Prahlaad consciousness.

The word Narasimha refers to the harmonious living of the lion and human consciousness without any confrontation, giving rise to the ever-new thrilling joy each moment known as Prahlaad consciousness.

The Holika festival is the systematic practice of the Kriyayoga meditation technique to reach the supreme stage of realization so as to be able to accept the two opposite conditions at the same time.

Scientific Significance

The mutation period of winter and spring induces the growth of bacteria in the atmosphere as well as in the body.  In the tradition of Holika Dahan. When Holika is burnt, the temperature rises to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Following the tradition when people perform Parikrama (going around) around the fire, the heat from the fire kills the bacteria in the body thus, cleansing it.