Holi is an ancient festival of India and was originally known as
‘Holika’. The festivals finds a detailed description in early religious
works such as Jaimini’s Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutras.
Historians also believe that Holi was celebrated by all Aryans but more
so in the Eastern part of India.
It is said that Holi existed several centuries before Christ. However,
the meaning of the festival is believed to have changed over the years.
Earlier it was a special rite performed by married women for the
happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was
worshiped.

The festival of Holi also finds a reference in the sculptures on walls
of old temples. A 16th century panel sculpted in a temple at Hampi,
capital of Vijayanagar, shows a joyous scene of Holi. The painting
depicts a Prince and his Princess standing amidst maids waiting with
syringes or pichkaris to drench the Royal couple in coloured water.
A 16th century Ahmednagar painting is on the theme of Vasanta Ragini –
spring song or music. It shows a royal couple sitting on a grand swing,
while maidens are playing music and spraying colors with pichkaris.

There are a lot of other paintings and murals in the temples of medieval
India which provide a pictoral description of Holi. For instance, a
Mewar painting (circa 1755) shows the Maharana with his courtiers. While
the ruler is bestowing gifts on some people, a merry dance is on, and
in the center is a tank filled with colored water. Also, a Bundi
miniature shows a king seated on a tusker and from a balcony above some
damsels are showering gulal (colored powders) on him.

 
 

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