Log in

Holi Festival: Significance, Legends, and Celebrations

Mar 2nd, 2018 | 2 Min Read

Category: Vedic Tales


Language: English

Holi is a festival celebrated with great enthusiasm and playfulness worldwide. It brings people from different backgrounds together and promotes inclusivity and equality. This vibrant celebration is a beautiful reminder of God's divine attribute - that He is 'sarvavyāpī', which means 'All-Pervading' and 'Omnipresent'. It encourages us to acknowledge the presence of God in everything and everywhere, echoing the story of Lord Narasimha.

The Tale of Narasimha and Prahlada

The story of Narasimha and Prahlada unfolds as the demon king Hiranyakashipu undergoes severe austerities to gain the boon of immortality. Upon receiving a powerful boon from Lord Brahma, he becomes convinced of his invincibility and orders that everyone worship him instead of Lord Vishnu, even executing those found worshipping Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu's son, Prahlada, emerges as a devoted soul deeply connected to Lord Vishnu. He refuses to obey his father's unjust orders, even in the face of death sentences. Despite numerous attempts by the soldiers to harm Prahlada, he miraculously remains unharmed. Finally, perplexed by unwavering devotion, Hiranyakashipu confronts his son and demands, "Where is your Lord Vishnu, Prahlada?" Prahlada replies with utmost devotion, "He is everywhere, Father, even in your palace." Hiranyakashipu, consumed by rage and disbelief, then asks, "Is He in this pillar?" Without hesitation, Prahlada replies with unwavering faith, "Yes, Father, He is in this pillar as well."

Driven by his anger and arrogance, Hiranyakashipu raises his mighty mace and strikes the pillar with all his might. In a wondrous and awe-inspiring moment, out of the shattered remains of the pillar, emerges Lord Vishnu in His extraordinary form as Narasimha, the half-man and half-lion incarnation, ready to fulfil His divine purpose and protect His devotee's faith.

Holi: A Celebration of Divine Leelas

The Festival of Holi also connects with the divine leelas (playful acts) of Radha and Krishna. Holi in Vrindavan is world-famous, and thousands of devotees and tourists throng to the holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan during Holi to witness and participate in the festival every year.
Swami Mukundananda narrates these stories of Holi and describes a Radha Krishna Holi leela. During Dwapar Yug, young Krishna celebrates Holi joyously. One day, He asks His mother, Yashoda Maiya, "Maiya, why am I so dark, and why is Radha so light-complexioned?" Yashoda Maiya does not know how to answer the young child. She knows that the festival of Holi is approaching, so she replies, "Holi is coming up. Now You can make Her as dark as Yourself!" Keeping His mother's words in mind, young Krishna enthusiastically plays Holi and drenches Radha and the gopis in colour! To meditate on a leela of Radha Krishna celebrating Holi, watch this video by Swamiji.