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November 12th, 2014

Holi from the past to the present


Festivals become more and more interesting for young people. Every year, many
million people on the entire world travel to festivals with different senses. Most of these
events include different music acts, which perform over multiple days. In the last two years,
especially in this summer, a festival with the name Holi became more and more popular.
When young people walk through the streets, colored over their whole body with different
colors, they probably just come from the implied event. However, what is the matter of this
festival, what is it about? Why become teenagers that childish and throw color over
themselves; like little kids would do. These questions and where the Holi-festival really
comes from, will be discussed in this essay.
Holi is one of many Indian spring celebrations, which has its origin in the Hinduism. It
is, however, the most popular and important festival in India by far, why it is also known as
festival of colors. Holi is celebrated at the end of the winter season, on the last full moon
day of the lunar month Phalguna, which is in the western calculation of time around the end
of February or the beginning of March. In the strict sense, the festival actually starts the night
before with a bonfire, made up of all the dried leaves and branches left trough the winter. It is
a way of clearing these and making way for spring. People sing, dance and pray around the
fire. In the past, though, the bonfire was supposed to defeat Holika, the evil of the Hindus.
Moreover, the heat from the flames should symbolize the upcoming hot summer days.
The following morning begins with worshipping the highest divinity of the Hinduism
Krishna. People smear his idol with different colors, to show him their love. Actually, Holi is
not only a festival of the arrival of spring, but also to celebrate the season of love. Then, Holi
is definitely opened.
Holi is a free-for-all carnival of colors (Ebeling, Karin 2010). The duration of the
festival is a minimum of two days, in some regions people even celebrate up to ten days. On
this first day people meet up with relatives and friends and pelt one another with color powder
or colored water. Because of all the painted faces and clothes it is afterwards very difficult to
identify or classify anyone. All people are equal at this day. That is the main purpose of this
colorful event. Social barriers are broken as people of all ages, genders, castes, and wealth
gather together and celebrate the festival. People are hugging each other and wish everyone an
Happy Holi!. In fact, it is said, that one can get away with almost every kind of behavior on
that day by saying buran a mano holi hai, which means dont mind, it is Holi. In addition
to the boisterous nature of Holi, it is a great opportunity for family members to get together,

share gifts, eat special foods, and decorate their homes. All in all, this is one of the most
spirited and beloved festivals of the Hindu calendar.
Meanwhile, this colorful festival is very popular for young people all around the world;
also in Germany, however, without the actual religious background. On these, so to say,
party-events, people come together to celebrate amity and togetherness. In 2013, Holi
Festival of Colors hosted nearly 300,000 participants at locations all over the world. In
contrast to India, where Holi is celebrated at the beginning of spring, the Holi-inspired
festivals are normally adapted to the local weather and holidays. Beside the parties, there also
exist other events, which grew out of Holi. For example The Color Run, a five-kilometer run,
in which the participants get pelted with the colors after every other kilometer.
Critics claim the Holi-themed events to be a profit-making commercialization of the
religious tradition of India. Probably, only the fewest visitors really know, that the event has
its origins in India and has a deeper meaning for the people there. In contrast, for people in
other countries, like in Germany, the festival only stands for partying with loud techno music,
drinking and throwing around with the colors additionally. Videos and posters promoting for
the events only show young people with beer in their hands and partying hard. This contrast is
disturbing and lacks the traditional range and depth of Holi just to have a new trend for the
glutted young people in the western countries. What a shame!

References:
Colors of India; About Holi
http://www.colorsofindia.com/holi/aboholi.htm
Gabriele Steinhauser (10/03/2013); The Wall Street Journal; A spring celebration of Love
http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304795804579096813960372646
Hamburger Abendblatt, H. Jacobs (05/09/2014); Holi Festival das Geschft mit dem bunten Pulver
http://www.abendblatt.de/wirtschaft/article127797596/Holi-Festivals-das-Geschaeft-mit-dembunten-Pulver.html
Huff Post RELIGION (03/16/2014); Holi 2014: Festival of Colors Celebrates Spring
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/16/holi-2014_n_4965026.html
Indien Aktuell (03/14/2014); Holi Das Fest der Farben
http://www.indienaktuell.de/magazin/kultur/holi-das-fest-der-farben-648941
Visit Berlin (11/05/2013); Holi Festival of Colors
http://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/05-11-2013/holi-festival-of-colours