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Holi Festival of Colours – Holika Dahan, Kathmandu, Nepal

Holi Festival of Colours – Holika Dahan, Kathmandu, Nepal

Feb 24, 2015
Langtang Ri Trekking & Expedition
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Holi Festival in full swing, Thamel, Kathmandu

Holi Festival in full swing, Thamel, Kathmandu

The next Holi Festival will be celebrated in Kathmandu on March 22nd, 2016.

Holi is an important festival to Hindus and is celebrated at the beginning of spring on the day of the last full moon of the lunar calendar month of Phalgun. Phalgun equates to February and March on the Roman calendar and so the last full Moon of this period usually occurs in March.

Origin in Hindu mythology:
There are thousands of stories of gods and demons, good and evil in the Hindu religious canon. The story behind the Holika Dahan is a bit complicated and one of many where good overcomes evil. The word Holi is derived from the demon Holika who is the sinister sister of Hiranyakashipu a powerful demon king and tyrant of his kingdom and people.

Through his scheming and deeds Hiranyakashipu gained the power of near invincibility and other gods and demons were unable to destroy him. Driven by this power he grew bold and wicked to the point where he declared and thought himself to be a God and commanded all in his kingdom to fall at his feet and worship him and no other God but him.

Hiranyakashipu had a son called Prahlada, however Prahlada was not blinded by his father’s wicked grandeur and so he continued to worship the true god Vishnu as he always had. Of course Hiranyakashipu was furious with Prahlada and subjected him to many cruel punishments, but Prahlada stood strong and resisted. But Prahlada was tricked by his scheming aunty, Holika who was under the evil spell of her brother Hiranyakashipu. Holika tricked Prahlada and dragged him on to a pyre with her. But Holika was cunning as she had a magic cloak that would protect her from the flames while leaving poor Prahlada to be burned to ashes. However the roaring fire caused a strong wind that blew the magic cloak from the shoulders of Holika. Fate made the cloak fall upon and protect Prahlada and so it was Holika that was consumed by the fire and Prahlada survived.

Lord Vishnu was appalled by the scheming, deception and behaviour of Holika and Hiranyakashipu and so fell upon Hiranyakashipu and disembowelled him in a rage. Once more good had been restored to its place over evil.

The flames of the Holika fire and the vengeance of Vishnu is now remembered and celebrated through the tumult of colour noise and festival this is now the Holika Dahan, the Holi Festival of Colours.

Cultural Significance in Nepal:
In Nepal, where the great majority of the population is Hindu, the Holi Festival is one of the most important religious and cultural events of the year and celebrated with great enthusiasm across the nation.
People walk the streets of their neighbourhood, village or city and celebrate with music noise and a powdery rainbow of colours thrown at each other. The more enthusiastic the reveller the more colours they wear at the end of the day’s festivities. Another popular activity in Nepal is to spray coloured water on one another as well as throw coloured powder into the air on each other. The result is lots of fun and the need for a very good bath and hours of clothes washing while thinking about doing it all again next year. The vibrant colours of the Holi Festival bring happiness and banish sorrow. So Holi is a great time of fun, happiness and excitement for a fresh new year where fate will deliver good to all people.

Where to experience Holi in Nepal:
There is no better place really than Kathmandu itself. The more people and the more coloured powder thrown the greater the spectacle, experience and enjoyment of this happy time. Thamel is also a great place to experience Holi as many visitors from around the world come to Nepal at this time of year and many time their visit specifically for the festival so they can experience it with their friends and the local Nepali people in Thamel. There are coloured powder sellers and stalls throughout Thamel at this time and so it become one of the most boisterous and colourful celebratory hubs in Kathmandu.

Other festivals in Nepal:
There is a saying, which in fact is most likely true, that there is a festival somewhere in Nepal every day of the year. Just contact us at Langtang Ri Trekking & Expedition to help you include one of these festival events in your trek our tour itinerary in Nepal or the wider Himalaya region.

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