Holi (Hindi: होली), is a religious spring festival celebrated by Hindus. Holi is also known as festival of Colours. It is primarily observed in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and countries with large Indic diaspora populations following Hinduism, such as Suriname, Malaysia, Guyana, South Africa, Trinidad, United Kingdom, United States, Mauritius, and Fiji. It is also known as Doḷajāta (Oriya: ଦୋଳଯାତ) in Orissa and Dol Jatra (Bengali: দোলযাত্রা) or Basantotsav ("spring festival" ) (Bengali: বসন্তোৎসব) in West Bengal. The most celebrated Holi is in the Braj region, in locations connected to the Lord Krishna: Mathura, Vrindavan, Nandagaon, and Barsana. These places have become tourist destinations during the festive season of Holi. Large parts of South India, however, do not celebrate Holi with the same fervour as in other parts of the country.
The main day, Holi, is celebrated by people throwing scented powder and perfume at each other. Bonfires are lit on the eve of the festival, also known as Holika Dahan (burning of Holika) or Chhoti Holi (little Holi). After doing holika dahan prayers are said and praise is offered. The bonfires are lit in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam in South India.
Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (February/March), (Phalgun Purnima), which usually falls in the later part of February or March. This year, 2012, Holi fell on March 8th and 9th.
In most areas, Holi lasts about two days. One of Holi’s biggest customs is the loosening strictness of social structures, which normally include age, sex, status, and caste. Holi closes the wide gaps between social classes and brings Hindus together. Together, the rich and poor, women and men, enjoy each other’s presence on this joyous day. Additionally, Holi lowers the strictness of social norms. No one expects polite behavior; as a result, the atmosphere is filled with excitement and joy.
Every year, thousands of Hindus participate in the festival Holi. The festival has many purposes. First and foremost, it celebrates the beginning of the new season, spring. It also has a religious purpose, commemorating many events that are present in Hindu mythology. Although it is the least religious holiday, it is probably one of the most exhilarating ones in existence. During this event, participants hold a bonfire, throw colored powder at each other, and celebrate wildly.Originally, it was a festival that commemorated good harvests and the fertile land. In addition to celebrating the coming of spring, Holi has even greater purposes. Hindus believe it is a time of enjoying spring's abundant colors and saying farewell to winter. Furthermore, Holi celebrates many religious myths and legends.