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Lesson Transcript

Culture Class: Holidays in India Lesson 7 - Festival of Colors
Hello, and welcome to the Culture Class- Holidays in India Series at HindiPod101.com. In this series, we’re exploring the traditions behind Hindi holidays and observances. I’m Eric, and you're listening to Season 1, Lesson 7, Festival of Colors. In Hindi, it’s called Holi.
Do you know about India’s famous Festival of Colors? This festival is celebrated exactly forty days after Basant Panchami in the spring season, meaning it falls in either February or March.
In this lesson, we’ll talk about India’s famous Festival of Colors, a day of great fun and enjoyment for all.
Now, before we get into more detail, do you know the answer to this question-
What special drink is consumed during the Festival of Colors?
If you don't already know, you’ll find out a bit later. Keep listening.
Though Holi is an ancient Hindu festival, these days most Indians celebrate it irrespective of their religion, or in Hindi, Dharm. Holi is celebrated on the full moon day, which in Hindi is called Poornima in the Indian month of Phagun. Because it falls during the season of spring, or Vasant ritu, people enjoy being outside all day in the sun with water and a colorful powder known as gulal. The festival takes place in an environment of beauty and freshness, with lovely flowers in full bloom that pervade the atmosphere with fragrance.
Traditionally the gulal was prepared from flowers, but nowadays it’s produced synthetically with chemicals. The day before the Festival of Colors, a huge bonfire is lit in the evening, called Holika. People burn dry wood and old expired objects gathered from their homes in this fire. This comes from a mythical story about Prahlad – a devotee of Lord Vishnu, and the demoness Holika. Other tales associated with Holi are the love tales of Lord Krishna and Radha, and how Krishna played Holi with cow-herding girls referred to as gopis in Vrindavan.
On the day of Holi, people gather outside their homes and enjoy themselves by throwing the color powder gulal at each other and spraying each other with colored water using water pistols and water balloons. It doesn’t matter whether you know the people you hit, because even strangers will engage each other in this type of manner on this day. At the birthplace of Lord Krishna in Braj, this festival is celebrated for sixteen days. In Kanpur, the festival lasts for seven days with a huge fair taking place on the last day. In some places Lord Karma, the god of love and passion, is also worshipped.
Child Krishna is said to have been very naughty during this time. He would play pranks and sneakily eat fresh white butter or Makhan as it was being made. Based on these stories, there’s a tradition in Ahmadabad where a pot full of butter is hung high above the ground. Young men form a human pyramid to reach it, while girls continuously throw the color powder on them to hinder their progress. There’s a lot of harmless teasing and flirting that happens between boys and girls on this day, just like Krishna and the gopis.
Now it's time to answer our quiz question-
What special drink is consumed during the Festival of Colors?
People consume bhang during this festival, an intoxicant prepared by boiling cannabis leaves and seeds with sugar, butter, spices and milk. Drinking bhang-laced milk or lassi is very common in northern India during Holi.
How did you like this lesson? Did you learn anything interesting?
Do you know of or celebrate any similar festivals?
Leave us a comment telling us at HindiPod101.com!
And we’ll see you in the next lesson!