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Know About The Legends Associated With Holi

Do you know why some people worship Lord Kamadeva on Holi? Take a look!
Published -07 Mar 2022, 12:19 ISTUpdated -07 Mar 2022, 12:38 IST
  • Krati Purwar
  • Editorial
  • Published -07 Mar 2022, 12:19 ISTUpdated -07 Mar 2022, 12:38 IST
woman playing holi

Do you know why do we celebrate Holi? What is the significance of colours at this festival? Are you aware of the rituals that make the festival of spring lively? With this article, we will explore the legends associated with Holi.

Mythological Stories Associated With Holi

Prahlada Winning Over Holika

woman during holi

This is the most common mythological story that everyone among us would have heard. Many even believe that Holi is derived from Holika. She was a demoness and sister of king Hiranyakashipu. It is believed that Prahlada was a saint boy who worshipped Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu, on the other hand, was a demon king who had a boon that made it impossible for anyone to kill him. He could not be killed by anything birthed from the womb of a living being, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither by a man nor an animal, neither on land nor in water, neither during the day nor at night, neither in the air nor by any man-made weapon.

The king wanted to be God of the land and did not like son for praying to Lord Vishnu. According to legends, Prahlada heard the chants of Lord Narada when he was in Kayadhu’s womb. In the early stages of life, Lord Narada was the teacher of the little boy, and later in life, Prahlada became a devotee of Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu asked his son to worship him instead of the deity who is renowned to be the preserver of this Universe. When Prahlada denied the orders from his father, the king ordered his sister to kill the boy. 

Holika had a boon that fire cannot kill her. Prahlada sat on Holika’s lap, while she sat on a pyre. When the wood started to burn, Prahlada started to chant Lord Vishnu’s name. The boy came out of the fire unscathed, and Holika burnt to ashes despite her boon. 

She died on the pyre because her boon could only work if she entered the fire alone. Holika was not aware of this. Therefore, we have a ritual of Holika Dahan a night before playing Holi with colours.

Hiranyakashipu could not bear this and made another attempt to kill Prahlada. Heavens fell apart, and Narasimha, half man and half lion avatar of Lord Vishnu, descended on the earth. He was powerful and had claws sharper than any wild animal.

Lord Narasimha killed Hiranyakashipu on his thighs (not in the water, on the land or in the air) with his bare claws (with no man-made weapon) on the boundary of a courtyard (neither inside nor outside) at twilight (neither during the day nor at night). Hence, we also celebrate Holi for the win of good over evil.

Children Defeated An Ogress

Have you heard the story of Dhundhi, the ogress who troubled the kids of Prithu or Raghu? She had earned a boon from Lord Shiva that she made her invincible. Demoness could not be killed by men or gods, neither by arms nor by rain, cold or heat. She was also cursed by the lord that she had grave danger from boys going berserk.

The King of Prithu consulted his priest so that they could find a solution to the troubles of boys in the kingdom. The priest suggested boys choose the onset of spring (Phalguna 15) when cold vanishes and summers are about to start, pile up wood and dance around the fire clapping hands and chanting mantras. The noise, laughter and fun killed the ogress. 

According to this story, the kids chose the day of Holi. They abused the ogress and pranked her in the name of the festival - bura na mano, Holi hai (take no offence because it's Holi). 

People Worshipping The God Of Love

colours of holi

Have you heard the tale of Sati’s death and Shiva renouncing his connections with the world? Lord Shiva and Goddess Sati got married against the wishes of Daksha Prajapati, father of Goddes Sati. 

After their marriage, Daksha organised a yajna, a ritual performed in front of the fire while chanting mantras. He did not invite the newly married couple. Despite Lord Shiva’s request, Goddess Sati went to her father’s home for the yajna, and Daksha insulted her and Lord Shiva.

As an act of penance, Goddess Sati asked Lord of Fire to accept her body, and she dies in front of everyone. Hearing this, Lord Shiva renounced this world and opted for meditation. Many years later, Goddess Sati, reborn as Goddess Parvati, tried to awaken Lord and reconcile with him.

Lord Kamadeva helped her, but in return, Lord Shiva woke up infuriated and burnt the love god with his third eye. Later, Goddess Parvati told Lord Shiva the reason behind Lord Kamadeva’s act. Lord Shiva brought him back to life and made him immoral. Since that day, people worship Lord Kamadeva and his sacrifice on Holi.

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Mythological Tale Of Radha-Krishna

To celebrate the selfless and eternal love of Radha and Krishna, we celebrate the festival of Holi with vibrant colours and flowers. Another tale, include Krishna playing pranks of Gopis and Radha. He threw flowers and natural colours on them. 

Therefore, if you want to celebrate Holi with fervour, plan a visit to Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The festival of colours also celebrates the divine dance of Radha-Krishna, called Ras Lila. 

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Celebration Of Holi

play holi with friends

Celebration of Holi includes Holika Dahan, a day before playing with colours. In many places, men, women and children go near the pyre in the evening, pray and offer some sweets. 

Families and friends come together to put colours on each other, play games, dance, drink and eat delicacies. Various places in India have different rituals and dishes specific to the festival. 

Are there any other legends or folklores associated with Holi? Share stories told to you by your ancestors in the Facebook comments. Till then, stay tuned with HerZindagi for more such stories and enjoy preparations of Holi. 


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