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Holi is a Hindu celebration coinciding with the spring equinox. Known as the Festival of Colours (Phâlgunotsava), it marks the end of winter and heralds the new harvest.
Holi is mainly dedicated to Krishna, one of the most revered deities in India and Hinduism. It is an ancient festival dating back to antiquity, with the first written records dating back to the 4th century. In the south of the country, the event is dedicated to the god Kamadeva (Hindu deity of desire and human love).
Celebrated by Indian communities all over the world, Holi is particularly fervent in Northern India. According to tradition, it is customary to engage in a great battle of colours in the streets by throwing gulal (coloured powder) at each other in love and happiness.
The festival includes processions, music, dances, songs, mythological re-enactments and temple decorations. It takes place over two days in February or March each year. This corresponds to the last day of the full moon in the month of Phālgun, during the 12th month of the year in the Hindu calendar. Its dates vary according to the lunar calendar and the length of the festival may vary according to the region.
The first day of festivities is known as Holika Dahan. It consists of lighting huge bonfires after sunset. This ritual symbolizes the burning of Holika, a demon woman burned by Vishnu, and the destruction of evil for the triumph of good. At the end of this ceremony, some Hindus collect the ashes and spread them over their bodies as an act of purification. It is also an opportunity to forgive one’s neighbour, to make one’s ills disappear or to repair broken relationships.
The second day of Holi (Dhuletti) gives way to animated scenes of people covered with coloured powders after having engaged in a great offensive of jets of colour and water in the streets. This practice is accompanied by the saying “Bura na mano, Holî hai” (Don’t be angry, it’s Holi). In the evening, people visit their families, relatives and friends to exchange gifts, Indian desserts (gujia, mathri, malpua), wishes and greetings. A big spring cleaning is done in the houses during this festive period.