What is Holi?
• Holi is literally one of the most colorful
festivals in the world celebrated in early
• Lasts 1-5 days
• Bonfires are lit and coloured powders and
dyes are thrown over people.
• Holi symbolises spring and the mythological
stories of the God Krishna and the King
How did the celebration of Holi
assume a colorful face?
• According to the Hindu belief, Krishna
was a reincarnation of lord Vishnu
• It was Krishna, or, the king of the
ancient city of Dwarka, who popularised
the tradition of Holi.
• The origin of the colorful and playful
tone of Holi lies in the childhood of
• It all came up as part of his pranks, he used
to play with his mates of Gokul and Vrindavan.
• Situated in north India, these are the places
where he spent his childhood.
• It was at this time of year, Krishna used to
play pranks by drenching the village girls, with
water and colours.
• At first it offended the girls. But they were
so fond of this mischievous boy that soon
their anger melted away.
How it added more colour?
• It did not take long for other boys to join in,
making it a popular sport in the village.
• Later, as Krishna grew up, the play assumed a
new dimension. It added more colour to
Krishna's legendary love life.
• The legend of Krishna's courtship with Radha,
and playing pranks with the 'Gopi's.
• The girls in the 'dairy' village of Gokul were
mostly milkmaids, and, locally known as the
How it spread?
• The same tradition has transpired through
the ages, turning it into a community festival
of the masses.
• As time kept flowing, the culture spread
roots to other regions of the country.
• The Holi play of Krishna is documented in
hundreds of ancient paintings, murals,
sculptures and scriptures found across the
Holi’s second meaning
• Way back in the pre-Christian era,
there lived a demon king named
Hiranyakashipu in ancient India.
• He wanted to avenge the death of his
• The brother, also a demon, had been
killed by Lord Vishnu.
The king’s boon
• To take on Vishnu, the king wanted to become
the king of the heaven, earth and the
• He performed severe penance and prayer
for many years to gain enough power.
• Finally he was granted a boon.
• Powered by the boon, Hiranyakshipu thought
he had become invincible.
• Arrogant, he ordered all in his kingdom
to worship him, instead of God.
• The demon king, however, had a very
young son, named Prahalad.
• He was a passionate devotee of Vishnu.
• Despite his father's order, Prahalad
continued to pray to Vishnu.
• So the demon king wanted to kill his son.
• He asked the favor of his sister Holika
who, because of a boon, was immune to fire.
• They planned that Prahalad would be burned
• A pyre was lit up and Holika sat on it,
• Yet, at the end Prahalad came out unharmed by
the fire, and Holika, the demon, was burned to
• The sincere devotion and complete obedience to
Lord Vishnu saved young Prahlad.
• Thus was the triumph of Prahlad, the
representative of good spirits. And the defeat
of Holika, the representative of evil.
• Later, even the demon king Hiranyakashipu was
killed by Lord Vishnu. But that is a different
How Holi originated?
• It is from Holika, that the Holi originated.
• This legend is relived even today on the Holi-eve
when the pyre is re-lit in the form of bonfires.
• Even today, people celebrate this occasion.
• Huge bonfires are lit up every year
on the eve of the full moon night of the Holi to
burn the spirit of the evils.
• Hence the story associated with the soul of the
• A large tree branch, representing Prahlad, is
placed in the middle of the fire.
• The branch is removed, recreating Prahlad’s
• The next morning, people put on old clothes
and drench each other with colored powders.
• It’s the one day of the year that parents
encourage their children to get filthy!
What it signifies?
• Colours of
the mood of
1) What does Holi symbolize?
- spring and stories of Krishna and
2) Who popularised the tradition of Holi?
- Krishna Baghwan.
3) How did Krishna play pranks?
- by drenching the village girls with
water and colour.
4) Who was the demon king’s brother
- Lord Vishnu.
5) What did he do to gain enough power?
- do severe penance.
6) Who was Prahalad?
- the King’s son.
7) Why did the king want to kill his son?
- because Prahalad prayed to Lord
Vishnu despite his father’s orders.
8) How did the king plan to kill Prahalad?
- by burning him to death.
9) Why was he saved?
- because he was devoted to Lord
10) Why are bonfires lighted on Holi-eve?
- to relive the day when Holika and
Prahalad sat on the pyre and she was
burnt but he was unharmed.
11) What do people do the day after?
- they put on old clothes and drench
each other with colour.
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