Holi one of the most happening festival in the world is a spring festival, also known as the festival of colors. Holi is mostly celebrated in Nepal and India along with rest of the world.
Holi commemorates spring and the mythological stories of the god Krishna and the king Prahlad. It is celebrated at the end of winter, on the last full moon day of the lunar month Falgun (February/March), (Falgun Purnima), which usually falls in March, sometimes in late February
There is a slightly different version of history associated with Holi. It is said that Lord Krishna has always issues with his color as he used to have bluish skin and Lord Krishna was always worried whether the beautiful Radha and her gopikas will find him attractive or not. So, To solve his issues, his mother ask him to cover Radha with any color he likes. Lord Krishna does exactly that and since that day, Holi is commemorated as the festival of love!.
Meanwhile There is a symbolic legend to explain why Holi is celebrated as a festival of colours. The word “Holi” originates from “Holika”, the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu.
According to the history, King Hiranyakashipu was the King of Multan and was blessed with power that he was virtually indestructible. Due to this power he started behaving arrogant and asking his people to worship him as a god. Meanwhile, Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada started opposing him and he was devoted to Lord Vishnu too. This infuriated Hiranyakashipu and started punishing him though boy was not affected. Atlast , Holika – Prahlada’s evil aunt some how managed him to sit on a pyre with her. Unfortunately, Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada. Holika burned, Prahlada survived.
Seeing this, Hiranyakashipu, unable to control his anger, smashed a pillar with his mace. There was a tumultuous sound, and Lord Vishnu appeared as Lord Narasimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashipu, and of the fire that burned Holika. The next day when the fire cooled down, people applied ash to their foreheads, a practice still observed by some people. Eventually, coloured powder came to be used to celebrate Holi.
In Nepal, Bamboo Pole generally called as a Chir is erected in Basantapur Durbar Square, Kathmandu.. On the eve of Holi, it is taken down and burnt to symbolize the death of the evil Holika.
Inputs from Wikipedia
Images: National Geographic Channel