Holi : Festival of Spring

Prabhat Kishore
India is the country of festivals, which symbolises  its rich culture, tradition and civilisation. The festivals are based on geological happenings, mythological beliefs, happiness and joy, changes of seasons and various other  factors. Holi is one of such a festival, which is called Rangotsava (festival of colours), Basantotsava (festival of spring) or Premotsava (festival of love). It is celebrated over two days. The first day, called Chhoti Holi or Holika Dahan and the second day, called  main Holi, are celebrated with enthusiasm and fun.
Holika Dahan falls on Purnima of the Phalgun Shukla Paksha and symbolises the victory of good over evil. The Puran deals that on this day Bhagwan Vishnu in the form of Narsingham,  who  was half Nar (human)  and half Singh (lion)  killed the Demon King Hiranyakashipu for his evil deeds and saved the life of His disciple Prahlad. People lit bonfires in order to remove negativity from their lives and pray for the wellbeing of the family and  society.  To  remove negativity from the house, its cleanliness is necessary. According to the Panchang, Holika Dahan is performed during the Pradosh Kaal (which starts after sunset) while the Purnamasi Tithi  prevails, , while Holi is celebrated on Chaitra Krishna Paksha Pratipada.
Holi is an ancient Sanatan Dharma festival with its cultural rituals, which has been dealt in Puran, Daskumar Charit, Kalidas’s writings.
It  is also mythologically related to Bhagwan Krishna and Radha. It has special significance in Braj Bhoomi, the birth place of Krishna and in Barsana, the village of Radha. The Latthmar Holi of Barsana is famous world-wide. The women (as Gopis) use lathi (sticks) to beat the men (as Gops), who protect themselves with Dhals (Shields). It is also related to Bhagwan Ram in Tretayug, which reflects in the folk song “Holi Khele Raghuwira Awadh Mein”.
Holi celebrates the arrival of summer and end of winter season in Indian Sub-continent. It is also an invocation for a good harvest spring season. It is also known as Phagwa (named after Phalgun month), Rangwali Holi, Dhulendi, Dhuleti, Dol Purnima, DolJatra,  Pali etc. Outside India, it is famous and celebrated in Nepal, Bangla- desh, Surinam, Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad, Guyana, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Jamaica and other countries with great zeal.  
On the day of Holi, people apply coloured powder solutions (Gulal) in the day-time and Abir in the evening. The custom and celebration vary with  regions. It marks an occasion to renew ruptured relationship, eliminate conflicts, and get rid of ourselves from emotional impurities from the past.
Sikhs have traditionally celebrated the festival with its historic texts referring to it as Hola. Shri Guru Govind Singhji Maharaj modified Holi with three day Hola Mohalla extension festival of Martial Arts. The extension started the day after the Holi festival in Anandpur Sahib where the Sikh soldiers would train in various military exercises.