Travelling Blog

Holi Festival in Nepal: A day of colours


Holi festival is known as the festival of colors, also called ‘Phagu Purnima’ or ‘Holi Purnima, which is a festival of rejoicing occurs in the springtime on the day of the full moon in the Nepalese month of Phalgun/Chaitra (March). In Kathmandu and the hilly area of Nepal, Holi is celebrated on the first day, and in Terai (south part of Nepal) is celebrated on the second day (the day after the full moon) and on that day it is an official holiday. Traditionally, the festival used to last for 8 days and was marked by throwing colored water and red powder on acquaintances and the people even passing by the street. Nowadays, it is celebrated for only Two days (one day in Kathmandu valley and hilly region and the second day in the Terai region of Nepal). Color powder and color water are riotously dispensed as a reminder of the cooling monsoon days to come. Foreigners get special attention to keep your camera protected and safe and also wear old clothes.


Stories behind Holi celebration

There are several stories behind the celebration of the Holi Festival, here is one of the most popular stories. According to the ancient story, it belongs to Lord Krishna and Radha. Lord Krishna was frequently complaining to his mother Asodha that all his girlfriends were teasing him saying Black man (called Kale in Nepali). And ask her, “why was he black when all of his girl-friends (Gopinis including Radha) were white?” Yashodha (mother of Lord Krishna) gave Krishna different colors and asked him to throw it on Gopinis’ faces so they would look black too. Krishna took colors and threw them on Gopini’s faces. Gopinies were in love with Krishna so they loved the color game and enjoyed it. Since that time Holi has been celebrated in Nepal and most of the South Asian countries.

Besides these stories, there is another story. According to Hindu Mythology, during the reign of King Hiranyakashyap entire people of the kingdom were prohibited from worshipping Lord Vishnu and were forced to worship Hiranyakashyap instead. The king had immense hatred towards God Vishnu. But unfortunately, King’s own son, Pralhad, was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. When the king learned about this, he grew very furious and implemented extreme cruel measures to make his son forget Vishnu. No matter how cruel the king got his son grew more closer to lord Vishnu. In one of his ploys, the King assigned his sister, Holika, to burn Pralhad to death.

Holika had the power of emitting. She took Pralhad into her lap intending to burn him but with Lord Vishnu’s immortal blessings instead, she was burnt to ashes. It is believed that from this day people started to celebrate the death of Holika as a Holi festival. The chir pole, decorated with colorful flags and erected on the first day of Fagu at Kathmandu’s Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square.

How people celebrate Holi in Nepal?

Holi is celebrated with colors, water, sweets, and music. People put color on each other as a symbol of love. People visit relatives and friends in the group. Put colors on each other eat sweets and move around the village or the city the whole day. In some cultures and places People dance and play music. People in Terai celebrate Holi the next day from Kathmandu Valley and other hilly reason of Nepal.

There is a tradition of erecting a Pillar (long bamboo stick called ‘lingo’) covered with pieces of different color cloths (Chir) at Bashantapur Durbar Square and Bhaktapur Durbar Square of Kathmandu valley. In the evening of the first day Holi the pillar is taken down and the Chir is burnt in front of the old Royal Palace. The event is called ‘Chir Haran’ also known as Holika Dahan. In the evening some People collect wood and burn fires and play music and performs dances as well. The burning of the wood log in village and town avenues are very popular of Holi celebration. This event is called Holika Dahan.

Traditionally, People used to make water guns (in Nepali called pichkari) made of bamboo. And throw colored water on each other. Nowadays balloons and plastic water guns (pichkari) are used. The balloon filled with water is called Lola in Nepali. Kids and young people start throwing ‘lolas’ on each other from a week ahead of the main Holidays. When you visit different places you will see the different ways of celebrating the Holi festival.

Some photos of the modern celebration of the Holi Festival