These Are The Foods & Traditions Of Holi, The Hindu Festival Of Colors

large crowds of hindu devotees celebrating holi in temple at nandgaon
What Is Holi?CR Shelare - Getty Images

Also known as the Festival of Colors, Holi is a popular Hindu holiday with a rich history, celebrated most commonly in India. It celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the changing of the seasons from winter to spring. This year, it falls on the night of March 7 and March 8.

Holi has been observed for centuries and has evolved in that time, but its origin story traces back to a king named Hiranyakashipu who thought he was immortal and deserved to be treated as a god. The king's good son, Prahlad, however, was devoted to Vishnu and refused to treat his father like a diety. Ultimately, Hiranyakashipu was killed by Vishnu, who performed the deed in the form of a half-lion, half-man. This is why Holi celebrates triumph of good over evil.

people at holi festival
CR Shelare - Getty Images

Across India, Holi celebrations differ from region to region. Common rituals, however, include praying around a bonfire after sunset, singing, dancing, and, of course, throwing vibrant "colors," which are generally powdered starches with eye-popping food dyes. Different colors each have their own symbolism: Blue is for Krishna, a Hindu god usually portrayed with bright blue skin. Green is for rebirth and new beginnings, and red symbolizes marriage or fertility. Yellow is linked with India's third caste, Vaisyas, or merchants.

Holi is also characterized by traditional foods like gujiya, a sweet fried dumpling stuffed with dried fruits and thickened milk. Other savory Holi dishes include kanji vada, a dish of lentil fritters swimming in fermented mustard water. With outsized flavors and aromas, these dishes ensure that Holi is as delicious as it is colorful.

Though its traditions have roots in India, Holi is celebrated in many cities across the United States that host their own Festival of Colors. Thinking of attending? Holi celebrations are generally inclusive affairs, so don't be shy about joining in!

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