It's WorldFest at my university this week! That means for a whole week our campus runs a bunch of international events and gets in "world food" vans. Safe to say, it's one of the best ways to welcome in spring. My favourite event of the week is Holi - the Hindu festival.
Holi's roots lie in religion as a celebration of the beginning of spring, victory of good over evil, and as a festive day to laugh, play, and repair relationships. It's no wonder that it's known as "the festival of colours" and "the festival of love". It's spread far and wide these days and in the West is often celebrated without its religious context as just a welcoming of spring and colour.
My favourite pictures from the day are accompanied by my favourite (very summarised) legend of how Holi came to be: The Legend of Holika and Prahlad.
Prahlad was the son of the demon king Hiranyakashyap, who won over the kingdom of earth. Hiranyakashyap was so self-centred he ordered everyone to worship him. Much to his disappointment his son disobeyed him and choose to worship Lord Narayana (AKA Vishnu/Krishna).
Hiranyakashyap was so outraged he tried to kill his son, to no avail, as Lord Vishnu saved him every time. He then decided to order his sister, Holika, who had the ability to enter fire unscathed, to enter a fire with Prahlad in order to kill him.
She obliges and coaxes Prahlad to come into the fire with her, only to find out that her immunity to fire only works if she is alone.
Whilst he is in the fire, Prahlad has been chanting the lords name and therefore manages to come out unscathed, leaving Holika to burn to death.
And so, the name Holi comes from Holika, and is celebrated as the triumph of good over evil.
This legend also shows that no matter how strong one person is, they cannot triumph over a true devotee and should they choose to do so will be reduced to ashes. (Bit harsh, but good still triumphs over evil!)
You can read about some of the other legends here.