The date of Holi is based on the Hindu lunar calendar and is different every year in India. In most of the country, Holi is celebrated at the end of winter, around the full moon in March. On the full moon night (Holi eve), large bonfires are lit to mark the occasion and to burn evil spirits. This is known as Holika Dahan.
- In 2021, Holi is on March 29, with Holika Dahan on March 28.
- In 2022, Holi is on March 18, with Holika Dahan on March 17.
- In 2023, Holi is on March 8, with Holika Dahan on March 7.
However, in the states of West Bengal and Odisha, the Holi festival is celebrated as Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima, on the same day as Holika Dahan. Similar to Holi, the Dol Jatra celebrations are dedicated to Lord Krishna. However, the mythology is different.
Holi Dates Detailed Information
- The Timing of Holika Dahan — According to Hindu scriptures, the lighting and worship of the bonfires must be performed at a specific period (muhurta) after sunset on Purnima Tithi (the full moon night), otherwise it will bring great misfortune. Choosing the right muhurta for the Holika Dahan ritual is particularly important, more so than for any other Hindu festival ritual. Ideally, Holika Dahan should be carried out during the auspicious occasion of Pradosh Kaal, when day and night meet (which starts from the time of sunset). However, it mustn’t be done until Bhadra Tithi is over. The exact muhurta for Holika Dahan in India will vary depending on the location and time of sunset. For example, for 2021, astrologers have calculated it to be between 6:48 p.m. to 9:10 p.m. in Mumbai. In Delhi, it’s 6:37 p.m. to 8:56 p.m.
- In the afternoon, before the bonfire is lit, a special puja is performed to keep children healthy and safe from evil influences. This comes from the story about Holika in the Hindu text, the Narada Purana. Holika attempted to carry out her demon king brother’s wish to burn his son Prahlad in the fire because Prahlad worshiped Lord Vishnu instead of him. It was believed that Holika couldn’t be harmed by fire, so she sat in it while holding the child. However, she was charred to death and Prahlad was saved due to his devotion to Lord Vishnu, who protected him.
- On Holi, people will usually spend the morning throwing colored powder and water on each other. These celebrations die down by the afternoon. There are no rituals that need to be performed.
- Lathmar Holi — The women of Barsana and Nandgaon villages, near Mathura in Uttar Pradesh, beat up men with sticks in the week before Holi. In 2021, Lathmar Holi will take place on March 23 in Barsana and March 24 in Nandgaon.
- Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan — Week-long Holi celebrations at Banke Bihari temple in Vrindavan commence with the throwing of flowers (Phoolon Wali Holi) at 4 p.m. on Aanola Ekadashi, which is March 25, 2021. (It only lasts for about 20 minutes, so be on time or you’ll miss it). Widows play Holi in Vrindavan on March 27, 2021. The festivities at Vrindavan conclude on March 28, 2021 (the day before Holi) with the throwing of colors in the morning. In the afternoon, the action moves on to Mathura, where there’s a colorful Holi procession at about 3 p.m. Plus, the throwing of colors the next day on March 29, 2021 at Dwarkadheesh temple in Mathura.
- Huranga Holi — The day after Holi, March 30, 2021, women gather to beat AND strip men at Daoji temple in Baldeo (45 minutes from Mathura). The action gets underway around noon but arrive by 10 a.m. to secure a good vantage point.