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The Holi Festival Meaning: The Symbolism Behind India's Most Colorful Festival

holi festival meaning

You may have seen beautiful photos of the Holi festival. People celebrate Holi worldwide but this annual event has roots in India and it is most widely celebrated there.

To help jog your memory, this festival is memorable because those who celebrate it throw colored powder at one another. This colorful celebration is fun for all ages.

Although you may be familiar with this festival because of this practice, you may be unaware of the Holi festival meaning. Read on to learn more about this spring holiday, its meaning, and the ways that people celebrate it.

When is Holi?

Holi is a spring festival that is celebrated in March each year. People have celebrated it since at least the 4th century and is one of the most well-known of India's many famous festivals. 

What is the Holi Festival Meaning?

Holi has its roots in Hinduism, but people of all religions and backgrounds celebrate it in India today. There are several different legends that explain its beginnings and the overall Holi festival meaning.

In one, the son of a demanding king was saved by his sister using fire and trickery; their father was then killed by Vishnu. A bonfire signals the beginning of this festival as a result.

Another legend incorporates Krishna's blue skin color and his fear of being ostracized for it. Krishna's mother encouraged him to color a friend in a playful way in a color of his choice to put them on even terms. 

Holi is a spring festival. It celebrates new beginnings and good's victory in the battle of good versus evil. It is a time of spreading joy and happiness to others. The fact that Hindus and non-Hindus all enjoy this event helps to bring people from different cultural backgrounds together on the Indian subcontinent and around the world.

In addition to celebrating spring, Holi serves as an event to get people outside and moving after a lazy and sleepy time of year. They move their bodies and speak and sing loudly. A feeling of awakening and celebration is everywhere. 

What is the Significance of the Holi Powder?

Holi powder is everywhere during Holi, and if you are in India during this festival, it is impossible to avoid it. Long ago, this powder was made from natural dyeing agents like flowers but today it either synthetic or is a combination of cornstarch and food dyes.

This powder is available in a wide variety of colors. People enjoy all the colors, but some are symbolic of different Hindi deities, emotions, and life events. Chances are that when you are involved in a Holi celebration that you will be covered in a rainbow of different colors.


If you ever get the opportunity to visit India during Holi, you won't be sorry. It is an experience that everyone should have at least once in his or her lifetime. 

Even if you can't make it to India, consider having a Holi celebration of your own at home. Now that you know the Holi festival meaning, what's stopping you?

Don't try it indoors, but tossing Holi powder at one another outdoors will be fun for all. You may have a hard time getting Holi powder out of your clothes and hair, but that's all part of the fun. Enjoy!

If you would like to buy some Holi powder for a fun event, check out our online shop.