Commonly known as the festival of color, Holi is a spring festival that signifies victory of good over evil. The festival is observed as a two days celebration starting a night before when the Holika is lit (Bonfire) around which people sing and dance. The next day is the actual day for the carnival of colours where people are seen chasing each other with colour, both dry and water colours, along with water guns and water filled balloons. The festival date is not certain, and varies from year to year as per the Hindu calendar. It is celebrated on the last full moon day of the lunar month which usually comes in March but sometimes even in February.
The word "Holi" originates from "Holika", the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu who had earned a boon that had made him virtually indestructible. Hiranyakashipu’s son, Prahlada disagreed with his father’s unreasonable demand of being worshipped as God and remained a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Due to this, the king was infuriated and he subjected his son to atrocities. Holika, the aunt of Prahlada tricked him to sit with her on a pyre thinking that her boon from God would protect her. As the fire roared, Holika burnt as she’d used her power for ill-will. Prahlada was saved and Lord Vishnu appeared to kill Hiranyakashipu. The Bonfire is a symbolic reminder of this event.
Another legend’s associated with the Braj region where the Hindu deity Krishna grew up. The legend commemorates the love of Krishna and Radha. Krishna had developed a dark blue skin colour after being poisoned by the she-demon, Putana. On expressing desperation, Krishna’s mother advised him to color Radha’s (whom he had admired but was scared of approaching because of his colour)face with any color of his choice. This eventually became a traditional way of celebrating the event.
Different states, different practices, but Holi is a festival celebrated across all states, infact Holi is the only national festival that has positively influenced other cultures across the globe.