Many parts of South Asia celebrated the “festival of colors” or “Holi” on Monday, as people covered themselves in colored powder, played with flower petals and drank a marijuana-infused milk-based drink called “bhang.”
Holi is a vibrant festival, which sees the streets of India transform into a massive party where people throw colored powder, also known as “gulal,” on others by saying “bura na mano holi hai,” which translates to “don’t mind, it is Holi!”
The Hindu festival is centered around a young god Krishna, who, according to legend, was jealous of goddess Radha’s fair skin and used powder to color her face at his mother’s suggestion, leading to the act turning into tradition.
Another legend behind Holi is the story of Prahlada, a young prince who was a devout follower of god Vishnu. As the prince’s family disapproved of his beliefs, Prahlada was forced to sit in the middle of a bonfire as punishment, but was saved when god Vishnu intervened. The gulal used in the celebrations is to symbolize the flames of the fire as well as the beauty of spring, the season Holi is held in.
Water was used as an important part of the festivities but now many prefer a dry holi to conserve water. They drink “thandai” or “bhang”, a milk drink made with ground cannabis and indulge in gujiya, a sweet pastry containing nuts or fruit, and exchange gifts with family and friends.
Holi is not limited to just India. Many in the United States also take part in Holi festivities with New York City hosting a massive Holi celebration at Governors Island on May 6 this year. Washington D.C. will host the “Holi DC” on May 7, attracting large crowds. Other cities are also hosting Holi celebrations, but only when the weather gets warmer in April or May. (International Business Times)