Holi: What It Is, Where It Comes From, And How To Celebrate It

person's hand full of colored powder in Holi celebration
Photo by Nishant Das from Pexels

As the end of the winter approaches, you might start to see pictures of people covered head to toe in rainbow paint, or packed crowds flinging dozens of vibrant colors in the air, and wonder to yourself what exactly they’re celebrating. Yes, it’s Holi! This time, it will be virtual Holi.

Holi may not be the most mainstream holiday on the calendar, but it certainly is one of the most lively. What started as a religious spring festival marking the triumph of good over evil is now celebrated with gusto across South Asia and has garnered many fans outside of the source region.

What is Holi? Where does it come from? And what’s the best way to get in on the fun? Here at Presently, we’ve prepared the ultimate guide to the holiday, so that when the beginning of spring rolls around, you’ll be ready to go with your color powder and paint guns!


Why It’s Celebrated

As the story goes, King Hiranyakashyap was a smug and heartless man who passed down an unwavering order that all under his domain would be forced to worship him as a god. Only his son, the pious Prince Prahlad, had the courage to stand up against him, and the day he defeated Hiranyakashyap and his wicked sister Holika is now celebrated as Holi.


How It’s Celebrated

people gathered for Holi
Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels

Holi might be a Hindu festival emphasizing piety and renewal, but it’s also an occasion to meet new and old acquaintances and embrace each other with warmth and love. In areas marked to host the festival, plates of powder color or water balloons filled with paint are prepared for the guests. The overall goal is to just splatter your friends and families with water-based or colored powder and have fun taking goofy pictures together. For kids and teens, it’s a great way to coyly show some interest in your crush without being too surreptitious about it, while for adults, it’s an opportunity to get back at some of the people in your life who have ticked you off in a socially acceptable way.


How To Celebrate It Today

how people celebrated before the virtual Holi
Photo by Yogendra Singh from Pexels

Holi has grown beyond the boundaries of India and is celebrated by people across all faiths — everyone is invited to join in on the fun! Holi celebrations can be found almost anywhere you go — in fact, the largest festival of colors actually takes place in Spanish Fork, Utah, with over 70,000 celebrators.

Although the pandemic and social distancing restrictions have limited the ways that one can celebrate virtual Holi this year, as long as you embrace the spirit of the holiday, you can experience Holi from anywhere.


Virtual Holi Celebration Ideas

people with clothes covered in different colors are throwing colored powder
John Thomas on Unsplash

Growing up, my favorite part of Holi was comparing my face with my friends to see who got colored the most. A fun way to recreate that tradition is by hosting a virtual face painting contest with your friends and family, to see who can best bring the hues of Holi to life from the comfort of their own home.

An underrated part of Holi celebrations is the sweets involved, and lots of Indian desserts are easy to make at home. My personal favorite is Mango Coconut Laddoo which takes 20 minutes to prepare and only involves 4 ingredients. This tropical treat will hit the spot like nothing else! Perfect for virtual Holi celebrations at home.

mango coconut laddoo you can make for virtual Holi celebrations
Photo by Adobe

Originally intended as a festival to celebrate the advent of spring, Holi has evolved into a social phenomenon, where hues of vibrant colors are used to express love and forgiveness for their fellow humans. However, you choose to celebrate the day, take a moment to express your gratitude to the friends and family around you. If you can do that, then you can celebrate Holi from anywhere in the world, no matter who you are.


Holi Ki Badhai!

little girl with colored powder on her face for virtual Holi celebration
Photo by Pranav Kumar Jain on Unsplash


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Vedant Misra