However his son, Prahlad, continued praying to Lord Vishnu. Prahlad was saved by God twice when his father tried to kill him. It was his sister, Holika, who was burnt to death in the fire. Since then Holi Festival is observed to commemorate the burning of Holika.
Another legend related to the festival involves Lord Shiva, one of the major gods in Hindu mythology who was famous for his meditative nature. Trying to test his firmness, the God of Love, Madana, appeared to Shiva in a form of nymph. However she was recognized and reduced to ashes.
The festival also claims to be connected with the legend about the love between Krishna and Radha. When Krishna complained to his mother about Radha's fair color, she advised him to change it by putting some color on Radha's face.
The first day of the event signifies the burning of Holika by lighting a bonfire at night. Hindus wear their best clothes and watch a bonfire with a large tree branch in the middle of it. The fire is lit at the time of the moon rising, or around midnight.
On the second day of Holi Festival, also known as Dhulandi, people meet their friends and throw colored powders at each other, which gives the event its name Festival of Colors. Various feasts and celebrations occur late at night.
Several days later people observe Rangapanchami, which marks the end of celebrations involving colors. In Mathura and Vrindavan the holiday is celebrated for sixteen days. In Bengal the festival features the Swing Festival Dolayatra or Dolapurnima, by placing the images of gods on decorated platforms and swinging them in turn. Men spray colored water on women, dancing around the platform.
The festival is celebrated for 3-5 days, commencing with the sukla Chaturdasi of Phalguna. In Bengal, Puri, Vrndavan and Mathura the holiday is also celebrated as the Sri Krsna Chaitanya's birthday.
Originally the festival was held to celebrate the coming of spring. Thus, this aspect is still represented in the event in form of colored powders, which symbolize liveliness of spring.
Holi Festival brings people of different social strata together: rich and poor, men and women, employers and employees, young and old. Regardless of its religious roots, the holiday has no religious activity involved in its celebration.
One of the festivals of Bharat, Holly is seen as the most energetic festival, filled with joy, fun, and merriment. The common saying during the festival is bura na mano, meaning "don't feel offended, it's Holi."
Humor, jokes and poems are common attributes of the festival. In its spirit, Holi is nearest to St. Valentine's Day. In 2006 Holi will be observed on March 14.