If you’re in India during the Holi festival, be sure to celebrate it. Indians all over the world celebrate it with fun and full vigour. Different places and cities across India have given various names to Holi. The meaning of the festival, too, has changed over the years. Holi means ‘burning’, and fire plays a vital part in the celebrations.

According to history, King Hiranyakashyap wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship only him. His own son, Prahlad disagreed and was a devotee of Lord Narayana. The king was angered on hearing this and asked his sister Holika, who had a boon of being able to remain unburned in spite of entering a fire, to sit on fire with Prahlad on her lap. But the boon worked only if she was alone: she was killed and Prahlad was saved by his devotion. This story is narrated to show the triumph of good over evil.

People also remember how Lord Krishna used to play with colours and spray them on Radha and gopikas. This tradition has come to stay with the current generation. Children and the old alike come out on to the streets, with pichkaris (water guns) in hand, to drench each other with coloured water. Gulal is the coloured powder that people shower on each other.

The worshipping of the moon is a significant part of the rituals. Earlier, it was performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families. In some parts of India, it is celebrated to offer the first harvest to god. It also symbolizes the New Year according to the lunar calendar.

Holi is mentioned in many sacred texts, paintings and royal documents. It is said to have originated about three centuries before Christ.