Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Ganeev. Ganeev Wonders, “Why Don't Sikhs Celebrate Holi?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Ganeev!

Here in Wonderopolis, we’ve learned about many holidays. Maybe you’ve read about Mardi Gras, Passover, or Kwanzaa. Today, we’ll cover another holiday. It’s celebrated by over a billion people around the world. What are we talking about? Holi, of course!

What is Holi? It’s a spring festival that began in northern India. Holi is also called “The Festival of Colors” or “The Festival of Love.” Does your family celebrate Holi? If so, you know it is full of joy! Holi honors the victory of good over evil.

Holi began as a holiday in Hinduism, which is the major religion of India. It takes place during the full moon of the Hindu month Phalguna. Typically, this falls in March, near the spring equinox

Today, Holi is still a Hindu holiday. However, people of many other religions celebrate the festival. Especially in India, those who are Muslim, Sikh, and Christian observe Holi. People of Indian heritage have also spread the holiday as they move to and visit other nations. 

How do people celebrate Holi? It often starts with a large bonfire. For many, this represents the burning of evil spirits. During the celebration that follows, people throw colorful powder and water balloons at each other. As you might imagine, Holi can get messy! Families also share a feast of traditional Indian food. This often includes thandai, malpua, and gujiya

However, there are many different ways to celebrate Holi. One example is the majority Sikh population of the Indian state Punjab. They call the Holi festival “Hola Mohalla.” Over three days, they hold many competitions, including mock battles. The Sikh tradition even includes music and poetry competitions.

What is the story behind Holi? There are many versions of the holiday’s origin. However, one commonly held belief is that Holi is based on a story about the Hindu god Vishnu. 

Many Hindu people believe there was once a demon king named Hiranyakashipu. He wanted the people under his rule to worship him instead of the gods. However, his son, Prahlada, kept worshiping the god Vishnu.

In an attempt to be rid of Prahlada, the king worked with his sister, the demoness Holika. She was immune to fire. Holika tricked Prahlada into sitting in her lap upon a pyre. However, the god Vishnu saved Prahlada, causing Holika to burn instead. That’s why many Hindu people start Holi with a bonfire.

Of course, there are other stories of how Holi began. Many believe it honors the birthday of the Hindu saint Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Others point to another Hindu story about the god Krishna. It’s said that he spread beautiful colors on his followers. They believe this began the tradition of throwing colorful powders.

Have you ever been to a Holi festival? If your family is Hindu, the answer is likely yes! However, others are often welcome at Holi festivals, as long as they are respectful of the culture and the holiday itself. If your family wants to take part in a Holi celebration, remember to appreciate—not appropriate—the tradition.

Standards: CCRA.R.4, CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.L.1, CCRA.W.2, CCRA.SL.3, CCRA.L.2, NCAS.A.1, NCAS.A.2, NCAS.A.3

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