On the second day, the colour play begins. People pelt each other
with coloured gulal powder (the dry version)—they also throw water
balloons and shoot squirt guns at each other (the wet version).
The colour play commemorates the love story between Krishna, the deity Vishnu incarnated, and Radha, a Hindu goddess.
Krishna is traditionally depicted with bright blue skin. He feared
this would come between him and his intended, the fair-skinned Radha.
His mother told him not to wish for fair skin but to splash Radha with
paint. This worked and Radha fell in love with him.
What the Holi colours mean:
- Pink: Friendliness
- Red: Love
- Blue: Determination
- Yellow: Knowledge
- Green: Life, beginnings
- White: Purity
Holi takes place during the daytime (all the better to see the
vibrant colours) and is all about having fun together. Friends and
families, strangers and tourists fill the streets, throwing or rubbing
powder on each other and exchanging “Happy Holi” greetings.
Drummers beat out rhythms and crowds dance and sing. Everyone indulges in traditional food, drink and treats.
I used to get ready one day before by selecting old
clothes—mostly white—which suits best on Holi day. On the festival day,
my apartment block was completely filled with friends trying to find and
pull in the other friends who weren’t playing. Once we were finished
with our block, we then used to roam the roads on our bikes. This was so
fun, and I used to enjoy my bike rides on that day. It’s very hard to
differentiate the people with their coloured faces. —Rakesh C.
After the paint party, people return home to clean up and dress up.
Holi concludes with a feast for friends and family—and they begin the
spring with the spirit of harmony.
My family had the chance to celebrate Holi a couple years ago in
Mumbai. It was a wonderful experience for my family to throw colours and
water balloons. My daughter had fun playing with the local children who
enjoyed the opportunity to teach a foreign friend about all the fun
activities associated with Holi. Now that our daughter is getting older,
we have expanded the conversation to explain the origin and importance
of Holi. Every year she asks when we will be visiting India again. —Kristin E.