On this eve of Holi, lets have a look at the mythology which gave us this festival of joy and colors shall we?
Foremost is the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakshyap. Legend says that there once lived a demon king Hiranyakshyap who wanted everyone to worship him and only him. However, to his great ire, his son Prahlad found solace in Lord Vishnu and thus began to worship him. Hiranyakshyap found this unforgivable and asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad on her lap as she had a boon to enter fire unscathed. Legend has it that Prahlad was saved from the fire for his extreme devotion to Lord Vishnu whereas Holika paid the price for willfully trying to harm the other.
And thus started the tradition of lighting up bonfires on the eve of Holi, called ‘Holika Dahan’. It symbolizes the victory of good over evil as well as the triumph of a true devotee.
Holi also celebrates the legend of Radha and Krishna which describes the extreme delight, Krishna took in applying colour on Radha and other gopis. This prank of Krishna later, became a trend and a part of the Holi festivities.
Mythology also states that Holi is the celebration of death of Ogress Pootana who tried to kill infant, Krishna by feeding poisonous milk to it.
Another legend of Holi which is extremely popular in Southern India is that of Lord Shiva and Kaamadeva. According to the legend, people in south celebrate the sacrifice of Lord of Passion Kaamadeva who risked his life to revoke Lord Shiva from meditation and save the world.
Also, popular is the legend of Ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Raghu and was ultimately chased away by the pranks of the children on the day of Holi. Showing their belief in the legend, children till date play pranks and hurl abuses at the time of Holika Dahan.