It’s time for Holi, the Hindu festival that marks the end of winter and the arrival of spring.
Google is celebrating the “age-old festive ritual” that thematically represents “the triumph of good over evil” with a March 2, 2018 Google Doodle. Holi is sometimes called the Festival of Colors.
“Red, yellow, blue, and green are a few of our favorite colors all year round, but today we’re putting them front and center for an extra special reason,” Google wrote in announcing the Holi 2018 Google Doodle.
“Family and friends come together to feast, dance, and laugh together while dousing each other with colored powder and water,” Google reported. “People coming together from all walks of life to sing, dance and splash their friends and family with colored powder and water,” CNN reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Holi is a Hindu Festival That Is Widely Celebrated in India
Many Indians celebrate Holi, and the pictures that emerge from the celebrations are colorful and joyous. There’s a lot to be happy about, after all. Winter is over.
“Holi is a Hindu festival that marks the start of Spring,” reported CNN, adding that the festival is so well-known that major companies have frequently used it in ad campaigns. Holi started out as a spring festival celebrating a good harvest.
According to Maps of India, Holi is “known as the ‘festival of colors’” and “is celebrated on the full moon day falling in the month of Phalguna (Feb-Mar). Various colors and water are thrown on each other, amidst loud music, drums etc to celebrate Holi.”
Holi is one of the oldest Hindu festivals.
2. Holi Dates to the Hindu Story of a Prince Devoted to Worship of a Hindu God
Holi has deep roots in Hindu beliefs and folklore. “Holi celebrates the Hindu story of Prahlada,” reports The National Geographic Society. “Prahlada was a prince dedicated to the worship of Vishnu, a major Hindu god. Prahlada’s father and aunt opposed his religious faith, and as punishment made him sit in the middle of a raging bonfire. Vishnu protected Prahlada, and the prince did not burn.”
As a result of the bonfire’s inclusion in the folklore, many Holi rituals still include bonfires in them.
“However, the most striking aspect of the festival is the spraying of brightly colored powders and water in enormous public celebrations. The colors mark both Prahlada’s flickering bonfire and the bright colors associated with spring,” National Geographic Society reported.
3. Traditional Indian Castes Are Relaxed on Holi
Holi is meant to be a happy, vibrant time, symbolizing the arrival of the sunny spring and the leaving of harsh, dark winter. Sometimes called “The “Festival of Colors,” it is “also a time for Hindus to relax social codes,” reports National Geographic Society, which adds that “Barriers between rich and poor, men and women, young and old are broken down by Holi’s bright colors. A familiar saying is bura na mano, Holi hai—don’t be offended, it’s Holi!”
According to HoliFestival.org, the meaning of the festival has changed pretty dramatically over the years. “It is said that Holi existed several centuries before Christ. However, the meaning of the festival is believed to have changed over the years. Earlier it was a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was worshiped,” reports the site.
Today though, there is agreement on the modern meaning. Notes CNN, “Children can douse elders with water, women splash men with color and the rules of caste and creed are briefly forgotten with everyone taking part.”
4. Holi Turns Up in Many Paintings & Murals From Ancient India
The importance of Holi is found in many pieces of ancient Indian artwork. “There are a lot of other paintings and murals in the temples of medieval India which provide a pictoral description of Holi,” reports HoliFestival.org.
“For instance, a Mewar painting (circa 1755) shows the Maharana with his courtiers. While the ruler is bestowing gifts on some people, a merry dance is on, and in the center is a tank filled with colored water.”
Today, Holi is a national holiday that often includes visits to family and friends, according to CNN.
5. The Google Doodle Is Meant to Symbolize Traditional Drummers Moving Within a ‘Cloud of Color’
The Guest Doodle was created by Amrita Marino and, according to Google, it “depicts dhol players amongst a cloud of color. These traditional drummers move from house to house, adding a peppy, musical touch to the day’s festivities.”
According to Google, the colors have meaning. “The four main powder colors carry with them a piece of symbolism. Red signifies love and fertility; yellow is the color of turmeric, a natural remedy; blue represents the beloved Krishna; green symbolizes spring and new beginnings,” Google reported.