Getting Holi in Hollywood

This Saturday, Odd Little Hippo- alongside a few hundred others- had the chance to try something different in the Pacific Palisades. The gathering took place on the beaches of Will Rogers State Beach in a festival of explosive color to honor the ancient tradition of Holi. Pronounced like the english Holy.

Holi is a Hindu religious festival that takes place at the end of winter on the last full moon of March in honor or spring. Celebrated by Hindus worldwide but mostly in India and Nepal. The festival can sometime last up to sixteen days, beginning with a bonfire on the eve of Holi. The fire is lit in memory of the great escape of Prahlad, son of Hiranyakashyap and brother to Holika.

Getting splashed with gulal, a Holi tradition

Hindu theology believes that Hiranyakashyap was a great and powerful demon and was granted one “favor” or “boon” by Brahma, or all powerful god . Hiranyakashyap had requested that he not be killed “during day or night, inside or outside the home, not on the earth or in the sky, not by man or animal.” Making him nearly impossible to kill. Consequently, he grew arrogant and began attacking the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping any God besides himself.


To Hiranyakashyap’s disappointment, his own son, Prahlad, continued to issue prayers and be a devotee to the god Vishnu. Out of anger Hiranyakashyap ordered his daughter, Holika, to enter a blazing fire with her brother, Prahlad, on her lap since she had been given the power of entering fire without any harm to herself. However, when she entered the fire with somebody else, she soon learned, her power became useless. She paid the price with her life. Prahlad, on the other hand, was saved by the grace of god for his extreme devotion. The festival celebrates the burning of Holika, a triumph of good over evil and also a celebration of devotion.

In Nepal, Holi is regarded as one of the greatest festivals and most important festivals. People walk down their neighborhoods to celebrate Holi by throwing colorful gulala- a powder made for the festival- all over each other and by spraying colored water on one another. Holi marks the end of winter gloom and rejoices in the promise of a colorful and bountiful spring. It is believed that the combination of different colors played at this festival take all the sorrow away and bring back happiness and joy into one’s life . It is a time for enemies to set aside differences and become friends, the rich and poor to celebrate as one, a time for festivities and celebration.

The festival itself also has a practical reason behind it because durning the spring season, and the changes in weather, it is believed to cause viral fever and cold. The playful throwing of natural colored powders- which are traditionally made with medicinal herbs prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors- allows a community to antibody themselves cold fighting remedies. A special drink made of almonds, pistachios, and rose petal is also drank to promote well-being.

Holi was a gloriously joyful and messy time for us at Odd Little Hippo that is an experience that we are not soon to forget.

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