Millions in the Indian subcontinent celebrate the Hindu festival with fervour.
One of the biggest Hindu festivals, Holi holds a mythological importance – that of the triumph of good over evil.
It is also associated with the eternal love of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha.
The festival of Holi brings together people of all classes and ages, who sing and dance, hand out sweets, and splash colours over friends and loved ones.
The date of Holi is different every year in India! In most of India, Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, on the day after the full moon in March each year.
On the eve of Holi, large bonfires are lit to mark occasion and to burn evil spirits. This is known as Holika Dahan.
- In 2017, Holi is on March 13, with Holika Dahan on March 12.
- In 2018, Holi is on March 2, with Holika Dahan on March 1.
- In 2019, Holi is on March 21, with Holika Dahan on March 20.
However, in the states of West Bengal and Odisha, the Holi festival is celebrated a day earlier as Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima.
Holi Dates Detailed Information
- The Timing of Holika Dahan — According to Hindu scriptures, the lighting and worship of the bonfires must be performed at a specific period (muhurta) after sunset on Purnima Tithi (the full moon lunar day), otherwise it will bring great misfortune. Choosing the right muhurta for the Holika Dahan ritual is particularly important, more so than for any other Hindu festival ritual. Ideally, Holika Dahan should be carried out during the auspicious occasion of Pradosh Kaal, when day and night meet (which starts from the time of sunset). However, it mustn’t be done until Bhadra Tithi is over. In 2016, the muhurta for Holika Dahan in India has been calculated by most astrologers to be from sunset until around 9 p.m. (depending on location).
- In the afternoon, before the bonfire is lit, a special puja is performed to keep children healthy and safe from evil influences. This comes from the story about Holika in the Hindu text, the Narada Purana. Holika attempted to carry out her demon king brother’s wish to burn his son Prahlad in the fire because Prahlad worshiped Lord Vishnu instead of him. It was believed that Holika couldn’t be harmed by fire, so she sat in it while holding the child. However, she was charred to death and Prahlad was saved due to his devotion to Lord Vishnu, who protected him.
- Holi is a day simply for enjoyment, particularly for children. There are no rituals that need to be performed.
- Dol Purnima (Dol Jatra) celebrations in West Bengal and Odisha, which take place on the full moon day before Holi, are dedicated to Lord Krishna. Idols of Radha and Krishna are carried around in procession on specially decorated palanquins. Devotees take turns swinging them. The idols are also smeared with colored powder. Of course, colors are thrown at people on the streets too! Festivities actually begin six days beforehand, on Phagu Dashami.