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Residential Life

Holi: Immerse yourself in the Colours of Spring

By PriyanRA 23 Mar 2024

Celebrated in the month of March, the annual Hindu festival of Holi (pronounced ‘holy’) is one of the biggest cultural and religious celebrations across the states of India and Nepal. Famously named as the ‘Festival of Colours’, Holi witnesses people light bonfires, eat sweets, sing and dance to traditional folk songs and cover each other in colourful powder called ‘gulal.’ From the festival’s significance to how it is celebrated, here is everything you need to know about Holi:

When is Holi Celebrated?

Per the Hindu calendar, Holi is celebrated on the last full moon in the lunar month of Phalguna. The festival therefore marks the arrival of Spring. The dates vary each year between the months of February and March. This year Holi is set to be celebrated on March 25th

How is Holi Celebrated?

In India, the festival spans two days. On the first night of Holi, friends, families and loved ones gather together to light bonfires and throw roasting grains, nuts, coconut, turmeric, vermillion, and jaggery into them. The following morning, celebrants cover each other in ‘gulal’- a fine powder that comes in the colours of the rainbow- and drench each other in water.

Nepal has its own Holi traditions. The festival begins when the ceremonial bamboo pole, called ‘chir’, is erected across the country a week before Holi. On the evening of Holi itself, the Chir is brought down by burning it. Following this, people pelt each other in the dabbing hues of various colours.

Why is Holi so Significant?

As a centuries long tradition, Holi is rooted into various legends across Hindu mythology. The lighting of the bonfire, for instance, signifies the triumph of good over evil. Legend says that the demon Holika once tried to kill her nephew Prahalad, a devotee of Lord Vishnu, by sitting with him on a pyre. Prahalad’s devotion was such that he was saved whilst Holika perished.

The practise of smearing each other in colour, however, is rooted in a tale of love. It is a manifestation of the love between the Hindu deities Radha and Krishna that looks past the differences of skin, caste, culture, or religion.

Holi Events on Campus

Be sure to enjoy this jubilant festival by taking part in one of the events happening across QMUL:

Holi at Sherren - Monday March 25, 2024

Holi at Mile End- Wednesday March 27, 2024 (tickets available from Residences Reception, 12-2pm, on Monday March 25th!)

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PriyanRA Hi, my name is Priyan Kaur. I am a Senior Status Law Student here at Queen Mary. Bibliophile, Caffeine Connoisseur, and a Melomaniac- these are just some the words you can use to describe me :)
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