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How to Celebrate Holi

Tags: holi colors

Holi is a Hindu festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. The festival is celebrated over the course of several days, usually in the second week of March. Holi is one of the most popular Hindu festivals, and it’s celebrated by people both young and old. From lighting the Holika bonfire, to playing colors, to visiting with friends and family, Holi is a wonderful celebration to bring the community together and celebrate the triumph of good over evil.


EditLighting the Holika Bonfire

  1. Collect and stack the wood. Traditionally, 40 days before the Holi celebration, there would be a log placed in the center of town to signify it was time to collect wood for the Holika bonfire. Everyone placed any wood or flammable scrap materials they had on top of the log, and they’d end up with a large pile of wood ready to burn. Gather enough wood and combustible material to create a medium to large sized pile for your Holika bonfire.[1]
    Celebrate Holi Step 1 Version 2.jpg
  2. Place the statue of Holika on the wood. On the eve of Holi, place a combustible statue of Holika, the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu, in the pile of firewood. Burning Holika in the bonfire symbolizes the triumph of good over evil because she is said to have tried to kill Prahlad, the son of Hiranyakashyap and a devoted follower of Lord Naarayana.[2]
    Celebrate Holi Step 2 Version 2.jpg
  3. Light the bonfire. Use a fire starter like kerosene to pour a little on the wood to help get the fire going. Light a match and throw it into the pile of wood to start the fire.[3]
    Celebrate Holi Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • Make sure to stand far from the wood when trying to start the fire so you don’t get hurt.
    • Gather friends, family, or the community together to watch the Holika bonfire light.
  4. Chant the Rakshoghna Mantras. While you watch the bonfire, chant the Rakshoghna Mantras. These mantras are found in the Rig Veda, an ancient Indian collection of the Vedic Sanskrit hymns. Enjoy the fire by dancing around it and chanting the mantras to ward off evil spirits.[4]
    Celebrate Holi Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • You can find the text for these mantras online or by purchasing a book of the Rig Veda.

EditPlaying Colors

  1. Buy or make colors. The day of the Holi celebration, people celebrate the end of winter and the coming of spring by showering each other with bright colored powder and water. You can buy gulal, which is a natural red-orange color made from the flowers of palash. The flowers are dried and ground to create a powdered color. You can also buy abeer, which is small crystal chips of mica that create a sparkly silver color. People frequently combine the two to create a fun red-orange sparkly colored powder.[5]
    Celebrate Holi Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • You can also find colors of yellow and green to buy in markets or online.
    • There are many more colors available that are made from rice flour and natural colorings. Look online to buy Holi colors for the next festival.
  2. Smear colors on your loved ones. Smear the colored powder onto your friends and family to make them colorful and commence the festival of colors. The colors are non toxic and won’t stain so have fun smearing them on your family members' arms, legs, back, and hair.[6]
    Celebrate Holi Step 6 Version 2.jpg
  3. Spray colored water with pichkaris. A pichkari is a water gun to squirt colored water from as a fun way to celebrate Holi. Mix some of the colored powder with water and then add it to the pichkari. Use the pichkari to cover people with colored water and enjoy playing in the bright colors.[7]
    Celebrate Holi Step 7 Version 2.jpg
    • Pichkaris are especially fun for kids to celebrate Holi with.
    • They make great gifts for kids in preparation for the Holi celebration.
  4. Sing and dance to the beat of the dholak. A dholak is a hand drum that is played at celebrations such as Holi. Enjoy the celebration by dancing in the colors to the beat of the dholak. Sing Holi songs and let your body move to the beat while you celebrate the coming of spring.[8]
    Celebrate Holi Step 8 Version 2.jpg
  5. Eat and drink traditional Holi delicacies. A great way to celebrate Holi is with delicious traditional Indian meals. There are many different traditional meals for Holi depending on what region you are in, but here are some popular foods and drinks you can try.[9]
    Celebrate Holi Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • One Holi staple is Thandai, a traditional creamy milk drink flavored with nuts and spices.
    • Purin Poli is a popular sweet dish typically eaten in Maharashtra. It is a sweet flatbread with a buttery taste and a stuffing of lentils and spices.
    • Dahi vada is a tasty snack food made from lentil fritters soaked in Indian yogurt.

EditBreaking the Pot

  1. Hang a pot of buttermilk in the streets. One older tradition of Holi is the breaking of the pot. First you string up a ceramic pot of buttermilk in a street. It is said that Lord Krishna was very fond of buttermilk and would steal it from the houses in the village. To hide it from young Lord Krishna, the women would hang the buttermilk high up in the streets.[10]
    Celebrate Holi Step 10.jpg
  2. Form a human pyramid with the men. The men in the town form a human pyramid by balancing on each others backs or shoulders. The pyramid should be tall enough for the person on top to reach the pot of buttermilk.[11]
    Celebrate Holi Step 11.jpg
    • Be careful balancing on another person’s back or shoulders. This can be extremely tricky and requires a lot of balance.
  3. Break the pot with the top person’s head. When the pyramid becomes tall enough for the top man to reach the pot, he should break the pot of buttermilk with his head. This is what is traditionally done to celebrate the breaking of the pot, but you could also break it with your hands if you can’t use your head.
    Celebrate Holi Step 12.jpg
  4. Sing Holi songs and throw water. The women of the town surround the men in the pyramid. They have fun singing traditional Holi songs and throwing buckets of water. The women should enjoy singing and dancing around the men in celebration of Holi.[12]
    Celebrate Holi Step 13.jpg

EditVisiting Friends and Family

  1. Go to a friend or family member's home. At the end of the evening when the celebration of the colors has subdued, many people like to visit friends or family to enjoy the evening. Holi is a celebration meant to bring together the community so it culminates with coming together and relishing in the day’s festivities.[13]
    Celebrate Holi Step 14.jpg
  2. Exchange sweets with them. It’s customary to bring sweets to exchange with your friends and family when you visit them. People bring traditional Indian delicacies to enjoy together creating a great end to the celebration.[14]
    Celebrate Holi Step 15.jpg
    • Gujia, Coconut Burfi, Rava Ladoo, or Carrot Halwa would be great sweets to bring.
  3. Enjoy an evening with loved ones. Some towns organize large Holi get togethers in the evening, but you can also just enjoy visiting at a person’s home. Exchange hugs and well wishes with friends and family to celebrate Holi and the spirit of brotherhood. Continue singing songs and enjoying dances as the evening winds down. Holi truly is an all day celebration.[15]
    Celebrate Holi Step 16.jpg



  • The Holika statue should be made with flammable materials so that it will burn in the fire.
  • Make your bonfires in an open space away from trees, and only let an adult light it.
  • Check with your community to see if there are any community Holi celebrations planned.
  • Buy organic colors so they're less likely to react with your skin.

EditRelated wikiHows

  • Celebrate Karva Chauth
  • Be a Hindu
  • Do Hindu Rituals
  • Wear a Pancha Kachcham

EditSources and Citations

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How to Celebrate Holi


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