Joy of Holi

Catch the history and action of Holi with vibrant and colourful images from Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, India.

KRISHNA PLAYING FLUTE (1600/1699)Salar Jung Museum

Krishna and Holi

Holi is believed to have been started by Lord Krishna at Vrindavan. There is a legend behind this colourful festival. In his youth, Krishna was worried whether the fair-skinned Radha would like him because of his dark skin. His mother Yashoda got tired of his predicament, asks him to meet Radha to colour his face in any colour she favoured, which she did, and thus Radha and Krishna became a couple. 

Lord Krishna Playing Holi with Radha (19th century)Salar Jung Museum

Joyous Holi

The playful colouring of Radha and Krishna's face has been commemorated as Holi and celebrated every year with joy, frolic and  coloured powders.

A Holi festival (19th century)Smithsonian's National Museum of Asian Art

Spring festival

 Holi  is a festival of spring, the blossoming of love and a day to meet friends and forgive each other. People pay off or write off debts and deal afresh with those in their lives.

The festival celebrates the eternal and divine love of Radha-Krishna. There are  other legends too associated with Holi. Holi also celebrates the victory of Lord Vishnu as Narasimha over Demon Hiranyakashipu. 

Lord Krishna Playing Holi (19th Century)Salar Jung Museum

Lord Krishna Playing Holi

Miniature painting showing Lord Krishna with Radha and other gopis or cowherd girls playing Holi. This miniature is from the Deccan, dated to the 19th century.

Radha-Krishna play Holi  joyfully throwing colours on one another.

Gopis ready with their pichkaris or water guns.

Gopis refilling their pichkaris.

Gopis with pichkaris full of coloured water... it is Holi time !

Festival of Holi (18th Century)Salar Jung Museum

'Vasanta Ragini'

This Ragamala composition is from the Datia school and depicts Vasanta Ragini,  dated to the 18th century. Radha-Krishna and a group of gopis or cowherd girls and cowherds are celebrating Holi .

Radha has taken away Krishna's flute and is playing on it, gopis  pleading with her to return it, Krishna's face being smeared with colour by a gopi; some are ready for play with pichkaris full of coloured water.

Cowherds on one side, speaking to each other, one playing a percussion instrument to make it a musical Holi !

A gopi  refilling her pichkari  for more, her face a picture of pure delight.

Two gopis pour yellow-coloured water on Krishna's head.

A world of gulal  amidst  all the colours of Holi !

Raja Pritam Singh playing Holi (1770/1770)Salar Jung Museum

Raja Pritam Singh playing Holi

Raja Pritam Singh playing Holi with his Rani or queen. This Pahari painting is from Kulu, dated to circa 1770.

A lady attendant is standing by the side of the Rani, there is gulal, the pinkish-vermillion coloured powder in her odhni, the drape she uses to cover her head. 

The royal lady is about to throw gulal at the Raja.

Raja Pritam Singh is spraying coloured water on his Rani....the frolic of Holi time!

Credits: Story

Text and Curation: Soma Ghosh
Photography: M. Krishnamurthy and Bahadur Ali
Special thanks to Dr. A Nagender Reddy, Director, Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, India.


Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Google apps