The Hindu celebration of Holi is also known as the Festival of Colours. The central tradition of Holi is to throw coloured powder at one another. The powder colours, also known as gulal, are smeared on other’s faces and clothing. Eventually everyone is drenched in the vibrant hues of red, blue green, pink, violet and yellow giving this celebration its nickname – The Festival of Colours.
Holi is best understood as a celebration of the colours of unity and brotherhood. Holi is an opportunity to forget differences. The festival does not recognize distinctions of cast, class, creed, colour, status or sex. Holi is about bringing people together: employees and employers, men and women, rich and poor, young and old.
Holi is one of the most widely celebrated, and least religious, of all Hindu holidays. On Holi, the rigid social and religious distinctions common in Hindu society melt away, as all people are united in the spirit of brotherhood.
In most communities the celebrations actually begins on the eve of Holi. Public bonfires are lit which signify the destruction of evil and, metaphorically, the burning of the Hindu demoness “Holika”. The heat from the fires also serve as reminders that winter is behind and that hot summer days are ahead.
During this festival people typically hug and wish each other “Happy Holi”.