Holi, Celebrating everlasting love, life and joy in colours

by Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai

Holi-the Festival of Colours, is one of the major festivals in India. It signifies the end of winter and welcoming the spring. People smear each other with coloured powder and splash with water. The colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi and Bilva and various other medicinal herbs. It is believed that, smearing with coloured powder has medicinal significance. People also believe that the bright colours represent energy, life and joy. It is originally known as “Holika”, an ancient festival of India. This is a festival that is as much a gateway to celebrate the arrival of spring as much as it is a way to celebrate the season of love.

Trees wrapped with cotton sarees

There are many legends given as reason for celebrating Holi. One among many stories is a story of everlasting love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Krishna, being the mischievous child of Yasotha, was a prankster and was also the creator of many legends for himself. He once asked his mother-why is Radha fair and he is dark in complexion. Mother Yasotha replied to him saying-If you are so much jealous of Radha’s colour then go and put dark colours on her and she will also turn dark like you . Lord Krishna went ahead and smeared colours on Radha. Since then each lover usually puts colour on his or her beloved to pay homage to Lord Krishna.

In the state of Tamil Nadu, people worship Lord Kaamathevan for his supreme sacrifice on the occasion of Holi. People know Holi by three different names-Kaman Pandigai, Kamavilas, and Kama Dahanam. People of Tamil Nadu have great faith in Lord Shiva and Lord Kaamathevan. The story is that, Lord Shiva went into deep meditation after the death of his consort-Sati. Due to Lord Shiva’s indifferent attitude, Gods became tensed and worried. And the daughter of the mountains- Goddess Parvathi started to meditate to get Lord Shiva as her husband.

The Gods sought help of Lord Kaamathevan in order to get Lord Shiva back to his original state. Kaamathevan is a God of Love. He was well aware of the repercussions of such act, but Lord Kaamathevan agreed to help. Lord Kaamathevan shot his powerful arrow on Lord Shiva, while he was meditating. Enraged Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Lord Kaamathevan into ashes. However the arrow had the desired effect and Lord Shiva agreed to marry Parvathi.

But Lord Kaamathevan’s wife- Rathi felt very sad, and she told her sad story to Lord Shiva and requested him to revive her husband-Lord Kaamathevan.

Lord Shiva listened to her story and agreed to her request.

In Tamil Nadu songs are sung on Holi day depicting Rathi’s extreme sorrow. People offer sandalwood to Lord Kaamathevan to ease the pain of burning. People also believe that, Lord Kaamathevan was revived on the day of Holi, and celebrate the festival in his name. It’s the celebrated season of love.

This is a colourful festival celebrated with much joy and fervour all over North India. White colour dresses are preferred to be worn on Holi day. Folk songs and dance are also important feature of the festival.

Holi festival will be celebrated on the 22nd of March this year.

A Holi celebration was held at the South Lawns of Taj Samudra Hotel in Colombo on March 4th 2007:

It’s a joyful occasion for people of all ages

The spirit of Holi is colour

The colours recall the secret of life

Vibrant colours are smeared with love and laughter on loved ones

Rich and vibrant colours are used on this day

Holi comes alive with the colours of “Gulal” (cloured powder)

Kids love the festival

High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka Shri Alok Prasad is welcomed by the Press and Information Officer of High Commsion of India Nagma Malik to the festival

A festival-goer is trying to smear the Sunday Times photograpghr Manoj Ratnayake with colours

Spring is the season for rejuvenation, rebirth and rejoice

People used to prepare holi colours at home earlier by using flowers blossomed on Tesu tree

It’s the most colourful festival of Hindus

The festival is full of feelings and movements

Colours denote passionate pulse of life

Nobody escapes

Expatriate kids enjoying Holi

Sri Lanka’s former cricketer Arjuna Ranatunga at the festival

High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka Shri Alok Prasad and Deputy High Commissioner of India in Sri Lanka Shri A. Manickam are seen enjoying the festival

Drenched in the ‘Holi’ spirit to the core, they spared none

A very exuberant festival, with dancing, singing, and throwing of paint

Spicy savoury for festival-goers

The riot of colours follows a revelry of colour play

A Bhangra dance programme by a ten-member Bhangra troupe led by Ms. Sukhvir Kaur from Punjab perfoming at Holi festival in Colombo

Water is splashed towards the end

Fast beat of Bhangra kept the floor dancing

Friends greet and smear each other

Performing Bhangra dancer from Punjab

Punjabi drummer performing at the festival

Festival-goers dance along with the Bhangra dancers

Holi is a joyous, fun filled festival


  1. Nihara says:

    it is fantastick

  2. Dev says:

    Awesome collection. its a great efforts to maintain indo -lanka ralation.