Department of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology of the RWTH Aachen University

“Happy Holi!“ – Festival of Colours

Each year on the day after the first full moon of the month Phalgun in Hindu calendar the Holi festival is celebrated all over India leaving a mark of a multi-coloured, happy nation. This year it took place on Friday, the 6th of March 2015.

Having its roots in numerous ancient legends and stories about gods, the Festival of Colours or Festival of Love, as it is also named, is considered to be one of the oldest festivals in India. Apart from cultural, spiritual and religious meanings, the Holi festival is also defined as a spring festival as it falls timely into the period of late February until early March and thus marks the end of winter and arrival of spring. Most festivities are observable in North India and Nepal where people usually celebrate for two days. On the night before Holi, the Holika bonfire opens the celebrations where people sing and dance.

Coloured People during Holi celebrations

Coloured People during Holi celebrations

On the morning afterwards, the actual Holi celebrations take place which are known all over the world for their countless colours which are thrown in the air and onto each other. “Playing Holi” is what most locals see as pure enjoyment when being totally covered with all kinds of colours and being chased with coloured water while dancing and singing to traditional music.

Gulal - Natural dry powder

Gulal – Natural dry powder

The colours come from natural dry powder which is called Gulal. Originally it is made from natural plants but during the last years synthetically produced powders have been increasingly used as well. It is an outdoors event which can be observed or joined in streets, parks and basically all over the city outside of buildings. During celebrations many people legally consume Bhang which is made from cannabis leaves and mixed into drinks.

Me and my friends playing Holi in Chennai

Me and my friends playing Holi in Chennai

As I am currently in Chennai in the south of India, I played Holi on the 6th of March 2015 with some friends as well. It was a lot of fun to join people in their partying, happiness, and vivid joy of life. During celebrations, all barriers of society such as caste, gender, age and  social status are overlooked which forms a social unity. Culturally the Holi festival is also seen as a day of forgetting and forgiveness which signifies the victory of good over evil. To me, it is an inspiring festival which broadens one’s horizon over daily reality and with its numerous colours and happy faces will remain as a beautiful memory for a long time.

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