Holi Festival in Nepal

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Holi Festival in Nepal also known as the Festival of Colors, holds deep cultural significance rooted in ancient mythology. According to the Bhagwat Mahapurana, Holi symbolizes the victory of good over evil. Holika, who received the boon of flame-proof cloth from Lord Brahma, sat on the pyre with Prahlada wearing it.

However, Prahlad prayed to Lord Vishnu for his protection – the wind was summoned and the shawl was handed over to Prahlad. Holika is engulfed in flames, and her end signifies the triumph of good over evil.

Commemorating the death of the demon princess Holika while trying to harm her nephew Prahlad. This vibrant festival is celebrated with gusto across Nepal, featuring diverse regional festivals that highlight the country’s rich cultural tapestry.

Holi is the festival of colors in Nepal. People across the country celebrate it by lighting brightly colored powders and lights. Holi is celebrated with loved ones, family members, friends, or community members. People greet each other by throwing colored water balloons and colored dust on each other.

The first evening is called Chhoti Holi or Holika Dahan. The next day is called Rangavali Holi or Phagwa. Holi usually falls on the last moon of the month of Falgun.

Janakpur, Madhes Pradesh:

Holi begins early in the Terai region, especially in Janakpur, famous for its grand celebrations.
The festival begins with the 15-day parikrama, a temple-circumvention ritual, symbolizing the transition from winter to spring.
At the Janaki temple, farmers play with clay, signifying the change of seasons, adding a unique touch to the festival.

Biratnagar, Koshi Pradesh:

Influenced by Indian traditions, Biratnagar embraces Holi as a social celebration, albeit with evolved rituals.
When the Holika Dahan ritual fades, families participate in pujas near the fire, followed by colorful celebrations without water balloons.

Sindhupalchok, Bagmati Pradesh:

Sindhupalchok’s Holi festival unites the community with Hindu and Buddhist customs, bonfires, and communal celebrations. Villages like Bahrbise and Chautara Sangachok witness the celebration of Holi with a mix of local customs and fun.

Syangja, Gandaki Province:

Holi traditions in Syangja reflect a mix of youthful enthusiasm and traditional customs, symbolizing a generational shift in celebration styles.
Elders engage in traditional singing and dancing, contrasted with modern youth reveling in vibrant colors and playful splashes of water.

Rupandehi, Lumbini Province:

Lumbini’s Holi festival begins after Shivaratri, with communal fires symbolizing the burning of Holika.
Members of the Tharu community perform the ‘Jhizhiya’ dance, exchange festive offerings, and share communal food, promoting unity and joy.

Surkhet, Karnali Province:

Surkhet’s Holi festival showcases a vibrant blend of cultural expressions, combining the traditions of the plains and the hills.
Local Holi events incorporate diverse themes emphasizing communal joy through traditional dances, water sports, and colorful celebrations.

Achham, Far West Province:

Locally known as ‘Fagu Parva’, the Holi festival in Achham begins with preparations and communal games.
The ‘Fagu Holi Khel’ game and the symbolic burning of rags symbolize community bonding and the triumph of good over evil.

The science behind Holi Festival in Nepal

The festival is also associated with legends and mythology, but some of its customs also have a scientific basis. For example, the colors and water thrown during festivals are believed to make people content and happy by increasing the production of endorphins as well as flushing out toxins from the body.

A festival of colors that transforms weather and health

Holi is played in spring, which is the period between the end of winter and the arrival of summer. In olden times or even now, people who bathe regularly in winter often develop some skin problems that lead to serious infections. Unnecessary particles also accumulate in the human body. It needs to be rinsed. The science behind using natural dyes like turmeric is to cleanse the body and remove unwanted deposits from the skin.

Holika Dahan, on the other hand, is done in the spring season to burn away all that is dry and dirty to pave the way for new life. According to tradition, the heat emitted from the fire when people circumambulate kills the bacteria in the body and cleans it. In some parts of the country, after the burning of Holika, they eat ashes mixed with raw mango leaves and sandalwood flowers on their foreheads.

Good health

This is the time when people feel slow. When the weather changes from cold to hot in the environment, it is natural for the body to experience some delay. To counter this laziness people sing songs (Phaag, Jogira, etc.) with dhol, manjira, and other traditional instruments. It helps in rejuvenating the human body. Their physical movement while playing with colors also helps in the process.

Sources of plant-based dyes

Traditionally, Holi colors are derived from natural sources and are either granular powders or liquid pellets. In ancient times when people started playing Holi, colors used were made from plants like Neem, Turmeric, Bilva, Palash, etc.

Color powders made from these natural sources have a healing effect on the human body when playfully poured and tossed. It has a strengthening effect on the ions in the body and it adds health and beauty.

Let’s explore some shades and natural materials that can be used


In the form of mehendi powder, dried leaves of gulmohur tree, spring crop leaves and herbs, rhododendron leaves and pine needles can be used to make green dye. Or, you can go healthy and use spinach leaves!


Besar (turmeric) in its powder or fresh root juice, bel fruit, amaltas or turmeric can also be used for yellow color. Many flower species are yellow, such as chrysanthemums, marigolds, dandelions, sunflowers, daffodils and dahlias. The flowers of the Tesu tree (Palash) can give you yellow and orange color.


Mixing lime with saffron, barberry, or turmeric powder gives an orange shade. Another option is to soak henna in water which will give you an orange color.


Roses, dried hibiscus flowers, madder trees, crab apple tree bark, and aromatic red sandalwood can be used for red. Pomegranate peels and seeds, or radishes, are also great sources of red dye.


Of course, beetroot is a strong natural dye. Both in its powder form and juice mixed with water can be used.


Indigo, berries, grape varieties, blue hibiscus, and jacaranda flowers can be used in powder, paste, or liquid form.


Katha or catechu, which is an extract of the acacia tree, commonly used as an ingredient in paan, is a brown source. Red maple trees are also a source of brown dye. Another readily available ingredient is your daily dry tea leaves or coffee. Feel free to cook some in hot water!


Some varieties of grapes and the dried fruit of gooseberry (amla) can produce a black color.

Effects of synthetic dyes

Nowadays, the market is mostly filled with cheap synthetic dyes. They usually contain toxic ingredients such as lead oxide, diesel, chromium iodine, and copper sulfate that cause skin rashes, allergies, pigmentation, and eye irritation.

Green dyes can contain copper sulfate and can cause problems such as eye allergies and temporary blindness.

Red paint can contain mercury sulfide, which can cause skin cancer, mental retardation, paralysis, and poor vision.

Purple may contain chromium iodide which causes health problems such as bronchial asthma and allergies.

Blue can cause Prussian blue, which can cause contracture dermatitis.

Silver may contain aluminum bromide, which is carcinogenic.

Black can contain lead oxide that can cause health problems such as kidney failure and learning disabilities.

Synthetic dyes can cause serious skin diseases and clog the hair cuticles causing serious hair damage.

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