Legends behind Holi Festival :
There is a symbolic legend behind celebration of Holi. The word "Holi" originates from "Holika", the evil sister of demon king Hiranyakashyap. King Hiranyakashyap had earned a boon that made him virtually indestructible. The special powers blinded him, he grew Arrogant and felt himself as he was God and demanded that everyone worshiped only him. Hiranyakashyap's son Prahlad was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu and disagreed with his father. Hiranyakashyap didn't like this and he punished Prahlad very viciously, none of which affected the boy or his resolution to do what he thought was right. Finally, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister Holika to sit in fire with Prahlad as she had a boon that fire won't burn her. Prahlad sat on Holika's lap chanting Lord Vishnu's name and therefore, instead of Prahlad, Holika burned & Prahlad survived. The bonfire is a reminder of symbolic Victory of Good over Evil, Victory of Prahlad over Hiranyakashyap and of fire that burned Holika.
Significance of Holi :
Holi is also known as Rang Panchmi as on this day, people soak each other with colored water and dry powder. Tradition of celebrating Holi with colors is associated with Lord Krishna as he started the tradition of colors by applying colors on his beloved Radha and other Gopis. The lovable prank of Krishna where he applied color on Radha and Gopis using water jets (pichkaris) gained acceptance and popularity and till date, use of colors & pichkaris is rampant in Holi.
Holi festival has cultural as well as social significance. Celebration of Holi reassures people the power of Truth and Victory of Good over Evil. The legends behind Holi helps people to follow a good conduct in their lives and believe in the virtue of being truthful. On the other hand, Holi helps to bring the society together, it is the day to end & rid oneself from past errors, end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. Holi also signifies the end of Winter and arrival of Spring.
Rituals of Holi :
On the eve of Holi, Holika Dahan takes place. Effigy of Holika is placed in the wood and burnt. The next day, Holi is celebrated with Powder Colors, Water Jets (Pichkaris), Water Balloons. People enjoy traditional Holi delicacies like Gujiya, Mathri, Malpuas with great joy. Drinks specially Thandai laced with Bhaang is also an intrinsic part of Holi Festivity.