Essay on Holi for School Children and Students
Holi or the “Festival of Colours” is celebrated across the Indian sub-continent in various forms. MapsofIndia presents a comprehensive snapshot of all the information students and teachers will need to write an interesting essay on one of India’s most popular festivals.
Holi signifies the victory of Good over Evil and the arrival of spring after winter. It is also celebrated as the beginning of harvesting new crops for farmers. Holi has gained a cosmopolitan character and is today enjoyed by all communities throughout the country.
The festivities start on the evening before the day of Holi on a full moon night, which is also called Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi. People gather around a bon-fire and perform religious rituals by offering food and other crops in the pyre. This day signifies the burning of Holika (Hiranyakashipur’s sister) who sat with Prahlad in the fire to burn him, but got burnt herself.
The following day is celebrated as the Holi, where people smear coloured powders (Gulal) on each other and also play with water-guns and water-balloons. People sing and dance to the tune of Holi songs and children indulge in water-gun battles. It is also a day when people forgive and forget past enmities and embrace each other to make a new beginning. During Holi, people also share and enjoy sweet delicacies like Gujiya, and some relish Bhang. In northern parts of India, a culture of homecoming exists, when people go to their home town on Holi to meet families and friends.
History of Holi
As per the Hindu mythology, the origin of Holi is associated with the tales of Lord Vishnu, in the Puranas. There was a demon king called Hiranyakashipu, who was granted special powers by Lord Brahma. With time, he grew very powerful and arrogant and began to consider himself greater than the gods. He asked all the people to worship him instead of the gods. His young son, Prahlad, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and therefore refused to accept his father as a god. Hiranyakashipu was angry and several times tried to kill his own son, but each time Prahlad was saved by Lord Vishnu.
Finally, Hiranyakashipu turned to his sister Holika for killing Prahlad. Holika had been granted special powers by the gods and was immune to fire. So, she took Prahlad on her lap and sat on a pyre. Since fire could not touch her, it was expected young Prahlad would burn to death.
But Prahlad being an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu, was protected by the Lord and it was Holika who burnt to death in the fire. Soon after, an enraged Lord Vishnu in the form of Narasimha – half human and half lion, killed Hiranyakashipu and Prahlad went on to rule as a pious and popular king.
The death of Holika, and subsequently her brother, Hiranyakashipu, marks the victory of good over evil. The festival of Holi is celebrated on the full moon day of the month of Phalguna, as per Hindu calendar.
The festival of Holi is also celebrated as the “Vasant Mahotsava” and “Kama Mahotsava” and marks the end of winter and the onset of spring.
In Mathura and Vrindavan, Holi is celebrated as a festival to commemorate the divine love of Radha and Krishna. It is celebrated as Krishna’s mischievous play of colours with Radha and her mates (Gopis), that people of the region used colours to celebrate Holi. Since then, the festival of Holi has been associated with colours.
Rituals of Holi
Holi is celebrated for two days while in several parts of India it extends over three or five days.
Holika Dahan: The day before Holi is Holika Dahan when people gather wood and combustible materials for the bonfire in parks, community centers, near temples and other open spaces. On top of the pyre is a small idol to signify Holika who tricked Prahalad into the fire. The eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, the pyre is lit, signifying Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People gather around the fire to sing and dance.
Day of Holi celebrations: This is the day when people celebrate with colours, across India and in other parts of the world.
In some parts of India, Holi is a five-day celebration.
Significance of Holi
Holi is celebrated as a festival of colour, where people forgets and forgives each other. It is also a time for meeting families and friends. Holi signifies the beginning of new harvest and also marks the end of winter and beginning of spring.
Tradition of Holi Celebration in India
Holi being the one of the most popular festival of India has different names in different parts of India. The practice of enjoying the festival also varies from one state to another. Let us look at some of the regional celebrations of Holi:
Dulandi Holi: This is practised in Haryana, and the Bhabhi (brother’s wife) hit their Devars (husband’s younger brothers) as a mock, for all sort of pranks they play. In the evening, Devars bring sweets for their dear Bhabhis.
Rangpanchami: This is a practice followed for five days after Holi on the fifth lunar day when people play with colours. Rangpanchami is popular is Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and some parts of North India.
Basant Utsav: “Basanta Utsav” or Spring Festival in Shantiniketan, West Bengal is an annual event started by Rabindranath Tagore in his Vishva Bharati University at Shantiniketan. The students dress up in yellow colour and present some wonderful folk dances and cultural programs followed by the throwing of colours.
Lathmaar Holi: Celebrations start a few days before Holi in two towns of Uttar Pradesh, Barsana and Nandgaon, near Mathura. Lathmaar Holi is followed from the epic of Lord Krishna who visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased Radha and her friends. Offended, the women of Barsana ousted him away with sticks (or Lathis). Even today, the men from Nandgaon visit the town of Barsana every year, to be chased away with sticks by the women.
Hola Mohalla: It is a Sikh festival after Holi which marks the beginning of the Sikh New Year. A fair is held during Holi at Anandpur Sahib for three days where the Sikhs display fighting prowess and bravery. The festivities concludes on the day of Hola Mohalla with a long, military styled procession near Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib, one of the five seats of temporal authority of the Sikhs.
Shimgo: It is a spring festival in Goa, and also takes place during Holi. It consists of traditional folk and street dance, and extensively built boats depicting scenes from regional mythology and religious scenes. The Shigmo festival, takes place in rural areas of Goa, for a fortnight.
Kaman Pandigai: This is a festival in Tamil Nadu during Holi, where people relate it to the legend of Kama Deva, who was burnt to ashes by Lord Shiva. The legend states that Kama Deva was revived on the day of Holi and celebrate the festival in his name.
Holi Celebration around the world
Holi has gained its significance in different parts of the world today. Here are some interesting facets of Holi festivities and their names. In Surninam, it is called Phagwa festival and is a national holiday. Phagwa is also celebrated in Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana, where it is a national holiday as well. In Fiji, Indo-Fijians celebrate Holi with a lot of enthusiasm. In Mauritius, Holi is celebrated on next day of Shivaratri.
Celebrate an Eco-Friendly Holi
In the past, Holi was played with natural colours. However, with the availability of chemically produced colors, natural colours were replaced by these chemical colors. These are not only bad for health but also harm the environment.
Holi is not only a festival of colours; people relish mouth-watering dishes as well during Holi. Let us look out for the most important dish Gujiya and the Thandai drinks :
Gujiya Recipe: Gujia is the favourite festive dish served on Holi. It is made with fills of khova, pista, badam, chironji, kishmish, saffron, sugar powder, cardamom powder and coconut. For the outer dough maid (flour) and desi ghee. For more you can visit
Thandai Recipe: A welcome drink with your food, it can be called a Holi mocktail. It is made with milk, sugar, kesar, rose water, poppy seeds, melon seeds, and badam. However, if you want to add the intoxicating effect to it add Bhang and enjoy in full swing. For more you can visit
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