Holi

                          The Holi is a popular festival celebrated during the ten days preceding the full moon of Phalgun.
                         The name is a corruption of the Sanskrit word Holka, meaning 'half-ripe corn', and seems to have originally been the Vasant - Utsava, or spring festival, when ceremonies were performed in honour of the crops and to word off disease from the fields.Even now there is a remnant of these in the eating of stalks of half - ripe wheat and barley and in the burning cakes of cowdung. The main festival, however, has developed into something quite different and has become the Saturnalia of India.

                          There is a legend that a terrible female demon named Holaka, was accustomed to make her daily meal of children. The people appealed to a certain demon - king, who directed that the fury was to limit her appetite and only devour one child a day, also that the people might draw lots as to which it should be. One day the only grandson of a lonely old woman was selected in this manner for sacrifice on the following morning. Bemoaning his fate she was wandering about, when she encountered a Sadhu, who declared that if Holaka were met with sufficiently strong abuse and foul language she would be subjugated. The old woman spread the news abroad and early next morning collected all the children who had been instructed what to say, and when Holaka appeared, they all greeted her with such a torrent of abuse and obsence expressions that she fell dead on the spot and the children made a huge bonfire of her remains.

                          The festival of the present day is in celebration of this event, and has become the occasion of lecentious joy,evil singing, and dancing, and dancing. Many persons lose all senses of respect for age, sex, and religion - the foulest language is used, clothes are smeared with red, powder (Kunkuma) mixed with water, and this is squirtled over every one indiscriminately. Respectable women have to keep at home or meet with insults and obsence jokes. When the bonfire is lighted, however, some of them venture out to hold their infants near the flames for a few moments, as this is believed to act as a charm against evil influences.