Holi brings together the mystical stories of the Hindu faith and the practical aspects of people living together in the everyday world.
King Hiranyakashipu and Prahlada
Bonfires are an integral part of the Holi festival. King Hiranyakashipu according to the Bhagavata Purana (one of Hundu’s great histories) was a king of special powers. He could not be killed by human or animal, neither indoors of outdoors, day or night, by projectile or handheld weapon, neither on land or at sea. With this protection he became arrogant, demanding everyone to worship him, but his son Prahlada refused to worship him drawing the wrath of Hiranyakashipu.
Hiranyakashipu subjected his son to great indignities and punishments. In one of these punishments Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, tricked Prahlada into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was wearing a fireproof cloak for protection but when the fire started the cloak leapt from her to cover Prahlada. Holika was burned and Prahlada was saved.
At this point the Hindu God Vishnu became involved. He turned himself into Narasimha, half human and half lion. At dusk, neither day nor night, Narasimha captured Hiranyakashipu as he was crossing a doorstep, neither indoors nor outdoors. Narasimha held Hiranyakashipu on his lap, neither on land or sea, and tore him to pieces with his claws, neither projectile nor hand held weapon. Thus the evil was destroyed.
Radha and Krishna
Krishna is deity if Hinduism. As a child he was poisoned by the goddess Parvati causing his skin to turn dark. In later years Krishna fell in love with Radha, an Hindu goddess, but he was afraid to approach her because of his dark skin. On the advice of his mother, Krishna colored Radha’s face so the difference in their skin color became irrelevant. Radha and Krishna became and still remain lovers, and the coloring of each other in a rainbow of vibrant colors has become a part of Holi.
Whatever the reason, Holi has become a day in the Hindu community where people come together to celebrate the joy of being in the world.