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Airdate: Mar 11, 1998
Scientist: Vikram Khullar

HOLI: Demons and Bonfires

HOLI: Demons and Bonfires
Demons, bonfires and a day of playful anarchy. It all adds us to India's most colorful holiday.

Demons, bonfires, and a day of playful anarchy - it all adds up to India's most colorful holiday - Holi. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by the American Museum of Natural History.

According to Hindu mythology, the story of Holi began with a demon who became jealous of his devout son, named Prehalad. So with the help of his sister named Holika, the demon decided to kill Prehalad.

"The plan was to have Prehalad burned on the bonfire and Holika would survive since she was wearing immortal clothes. However, that was not to be. The wind swept away Holika's clothes and shrouded the son Prehalad. As a result Holika died. Prehalad survived and the people of India, to this day, celebrate that to be a triumph of good over evil.."

Vikram Khullar grew up in Rajisthan, one of the places in India where every spring, they celebrate Holi - named for the demon's sister who perished in the fire. He tells us that on Holi eve, bonfires are lit and people together carrying ears of wheat.

"People come with long sheafs of the wheat, roast them in front of the fire in the process getting themselves blackened in the face and hands. But there is along of fun and frolic that accompanies all this. The following day, people travel from house to house throwing colored water over each other's bodies. Throwing a very characteristic colored powder called Galileo which is resplendent in all its hues like red, green, blue."

More on Holi in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the American Museum of Natural History. I'm Jim Metzner.