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    World Religions | 3 min read

    What is Holi?

    At the beginning of each spring season, there is a large Hindu festival called Holi that is celebrated largely throughout India and Nepal. During this celebration, festival-goers enjoy throwing and putting colorful dyes on one another, singing, dancing, and listening to music, all for the purpose of celebrating the triumph of good over evil. The festival is enjoyed by entire communities and is full of laughter, joy, and making connections.


    This festival has a few different origin stories, all of which create deep meaning for those who celebrate the event.

    The first legend is connected to the story of the king Hiranyakashipu, who was known to be a cruel leader to his people. He considered himself to be a god and forced his people to worship him. But his son, Prahlad, refused to do so, instead choosing to worship the deity Vishnu. This made the king incredibly angry, and he attempted to have his son killed multiple times. There are two different versions of how this turned out. One story claims that the king had his daughter, who was immune to fire, lure Prahlad to sit on top of a burning pyre. But because her intentions were evil, the daughter was burned to ashes while Prahlad was saved. The other version of this story claims that Vishnu came to the king in the form of a half-man, half-lion and killed him, setting Prahlad free from his murderous father. Because of this legend, the first day of the festival is celebrated with bonfires, where people drag flammable items out to community pyres and dance and sing with their friends and family, celebrating this defeat of evil.

    The second legend that this festival is based on is the beginning of the relationship between the god Krishna and the goddess Radha. The story goes that when Krishna was a baby, he drank poisoned milk from a she-demon, which caused his complexion to become blue for the rest of his life. This made him self-conscious, and he believed that people would not like him or want to have relationships with him because of his looks. He ended up going to the goddess Radha—whom he had feelings for—and colored her skin so that she, too, had an unusual complexion. After this, they fell in love, and Krishna knew that people accepted him as he was. The act of coloring another’s skin is now largely celebrated throughout the festival, as people dance in the streets throwing and applying colored powder to one another.

    At the end of this day of dancing throughout the neighborhood, festival goers will remove the color from their skin, signifying the start of something new and becoming spiritually clean. They will often then go spend the rest of their night with their family and friends, ringing in the new spring season with their loved ones.

    Gospel Opportunity

    Christians have a similar day celebrated at the end of beginning of spring, celebrated by both those who regularly practice the faith and those in the community. This holiday, called Easter, is the biggest celebration of life over death and good over evil.
    During this day, Christians commemorate Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, and the success of the Lord over death and the devil. Believers celebrate that Jesus’s whole life was lived with the purpose of defeating the sin of the world, and through His resurrection He succeeded in bringing us this freedom.

    “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” -1 John 3:8

    Despite the evil and hardships that our Savior experienced, He rose from death and brings life to all who call on His name. Because of this, those who believe in God have the ultimate freedom of knowing that even while we will face hardships on this Earth, we have been saved from evil and get to celebrate the goodness of the Lord and eternal life with Him.

    “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” -John 11:25-26

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”- 1 Peter 1:3-5

    During this period, reflect on the goodness of God, and the power that comes from Him having defeated death. Consider your own testimony and what God has saved you from in your life, and share this continual triumph over evil with Hindu friends.

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