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Holi

Holi in 2010 will start on Sunday, the 28th of February and will continue for 2 days until Monday, the 1st of March.

The Holi festival is also known as the festival of colors. This festival is celebrated to herald the arrival of Spring - the season of hope and new beginnings. In the villages and towns across North India, there is a festive look and Gulmohurs, corals, silk-cottons and mango trees start flowering. The children spray each other with water colors and 'gulal', or powdered colors. Men and women come out to witness the fantastic colors of spring and participate in the merrymaking. The joy bubbling in peoples' hearts finds expression in dance, drama and music.

The mythological origins of this festival are quite fascinating. The mighty king Hiranyakashyapu ordered his people to worship him as god. His son Prahlad, who was against his father's style of ruling, continued his worship of Lord Vishnu. The king, in his rage, decided to kill Prahlad and wipe out the very name of Lord Vishnu. For this purpose, he sent his sister Holika, who possessed the ability of not being burnt by fire. To try and trick Prahlad, she cajoled him to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire with the full conviction that fire could never touch her. But Holika was devoured by the flames and Prahlad walked out of the fire unscathed.

Besides being a spring festival, Holi is also the harvest festival. It is a time for farmers to celebrate and enjoy the fruits of their hard work throughout the year. As a mark of gratitude to the gods, farmers offer their first crop to Agnidev - the god of Fire - who for centuries has been looked upon with love and esteem. Only after this mandatory ritual is performed, the farmers use the crop for their personal consumption.

Amisha Patel
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