Dhuleti is the Hindu festival of colours. The festival begins on Rang Pashi which begins three days before Holika Dahan. It is celebrated in Fagun on a full moon day. The first day of this festival is called Holi while the second day is called Dhuleti. It is known to be the festival of colours, where people play with colours and smear gulal on each other.
The festival of Dhuleti is associated with many legends. It is the celebration of good over evil and the divine love of Radha Krishna. Holi is also associated with Shiva in profound meditation and his wife Parvati’s desire to bring Shiva back into the world as per the Hindu traditions of Shaivism and Shaktism. This festival is the day to end conflicts with one another and celebrate it with love and respect. The festivities commence on the day of Holika Dahan.
Holika was the sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyap who wanted people to worship him. The demon king was an enemy of Lord Vishnu but his son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap didn’t approve of this and asked for Holika’s help to kill Prahlad. Holika asked Prahlad to sit with her in front of a bonfire, hoping the fire would kill him. But Prahlad prayed to Lord Vishnu and asked him to keep him safe. In the end, the fire ended up killing and burning Holika.
The Holi Festival is supposed to have originated as a rite for married women to impart wealth and kindness to their new families. Since then, the event has grown to include much more. One of the major focuses of the Holi Festival is now a celebration of good triumphing over evil. Every year, Indians all over the world burn effigies of Holika in the shape of an old trunk and a stick at the street corner, symbolising the subjugation of evil inside them. By burning Holika, people burn the negative energy in their hearts and homes.
Dhuleti marks the end of winter and embraces spring. According to one legend, Lord Krishna’s skin turned blue because he was poisoned by a demoness’ breastmilk. This made him upset because he thought no one would play with him anymore, especially Radha whom he adored. Since Radha was fair-skinned, he thought that she wouldn’t like him. Yashoda, his mother, consoled him and told him to apply colour to Radha’s face. He did this and since then, Holi is celebrated every year with pomp and zeal.
There is another legend associated with Holi in the Puranas. Lord Shiva was enraged as the god Kamadeva, the Lord of Love and Desire, sought to strike passion between the Lord and Goddess Parvati. On this day, God Shiva, angered, opened his third eye and burnt Kamadeva. As a result, people commemorate it by burning items of desire as a symbolic gesture of releasing carnal urges. Holashtak is observed for eight days, beginning on the eighth day of the Falgun Shukla Paksha and ending on the Full Moon Day.
The next morning, the carnival of colours begins, with people taking to the streets to play with colours and bathe each other in coloured water using water pistols or balloons. On Holi, widows and alienated women drench themselves in colours in Vrindavan. Again, Sikhs in Punjab celebrate Hola Mohalla, which occurs a day after Holi. The customs and ceremonies vary by location, but the spirit of this colourful event unifies them all.