Holi is an ancient Indian festival originally known as “Holika.” Though the festival is very old – believed to have started before the common era – the meaning of the holiday has changed over the years. Most of the legends rely on stories of the victory of good over evil, and celebrating happiness and love. The cheerful spring festival is celebrated with lots of colors, especially colored powder. I hope these Holi activities help families of all ages learn about the holiday and celebrate in a respectful, fun way.
This guide is intended to help you appreciate and avoid cultural appropriation as you learn with and teach your children. It also directs you to resources created by those of Indian heritage, and provides ways to support Indian creators as we benefit from the gift of their traditions.
Holi Books For Kids
Holi Picture Book Read Aloud
Featured Holi Book for Toddlers
Holi Books for Preschoolers: Picture Book Read Aloud
Other Holi Children’s Books
You can find these saved in my Bookshop.org shop, as well!
Holi Facts: History of Holi for Kids: What is Holi?
Holi is the second most popular festival in India after Diwali. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil and also renewal and the advent of spring. It is a cheerful, joyful, colorful festival that is especially fun for children and families.
There are several different legends for the reason for the Holi celebration. One main legend states that the demon Hiranyakashipu was upset that his son Prahlada was a devotee to the Lord Vishnu instead of the Lord Bramha, whom Hiranyakashipu was trying to please to gain immortality. The demon Hiranyakashipu also wanted to rule Vishnu’s underworld, and wanted to avenge the death of his younger brother at the hands of Vishnu. Because of these reasons, Hiranyakashipu asked his sister Holika to kill Prahlada for serving Vishnu.
Holika planned to kill Prahlada in a bonfire. During this, however, Prahlada began chanting the name of Vishnu, who used the wind to blow the divine shawl off of Holika and onto Prahlada. Prahlada was thus saved from the bonfire while Holika was burned to ashes. This shows the victory of good over evil.
Here are some books that talk about Hinduism for kids so you can learn more about the history of Holi!
How to Celebrate Holi
Most people celebrate Holi by tossing colored powder and water at each other, and also by exchanging sweets. Many people also have a bonfire the night before Holi to remember burning away evil. Many wear white clothing so the colors show up better. You, too, can celebrate Holi with colored powder and anticipate the arrival of spring!
Don’t worry if you miss the start of Holi. You can continue to celebrate in the days and weeks after, even if it is a bit delayed!
What to Buy for Holi
Here are some things you can purchase to celebrate Holi. All of these are optional! While it is fun to purchase the colored powders and have a joyful and colorful celebration, you can just as easily celebrate Holi by learning a bit about the culture and history at home, and by simply making a colorful drawing with crayons and markers.
Still, if you would like to have a fun, inexpensive, and authentic celebration, here are some basics that can help you have a wonderful Holi celebration with kids.
- Authentic colored powder (here’s another beautiful set!)
- Plain white t-shirt (so the colors show up best!) Men, Women, Child (or here’s an inexpensive multipack)
- You could also purchase a white Indian kurti (like these for Women, Men, Girls, and Boys) – it’s a beautiful, traditional, comfortable, and inexpensive look that will showcase the bright colors. Or you could purchase this beautiful and brightly colored outfit for girls. This is also unique to Holi, as otherwise, white is seen as a color of mourning for widows.
- Water guns (it’s very fun to get the colors wet on white clothing for a “wet Holi”!)
- Water balloons (this water balloon filler is inexpensive and incredible for doing a bunch of water balloons quickly, and this inexpensive and highly reviewed water balloon pump is perfect for filling them!)
- Indian food or sweets. You can even purchase them online here. There are also some beautiful and colorful Holi sweets, or you can purchase cashew barfi!
- Thandai mix. The most popular Holi drink – don’t miss this one!
- Holi decor. Here are some beautiful and colorful Holi pom pom garlands!
Holi Crafts for Kids: Fun Holi Activities
Homemade Holi Powders
You can either purchase Holi colored powders from an Indian grocery store, purchase them online from an authentic source, or make your own. You can do this by taking brightly colored flower petals and leaving them out to dry, then grinding them into a fine powder. Mixing this with rice flour will increase the volume of the powders.
Other Holi Activities for Kids
- Colorful rolled paper craft with construction paper, cardstock, and glue
- Paint splatter cards
- Holi coloring pages
Holi Science Activities for Kids
This page has a number of fantastic Holi science experiments that kids will love. Almost all are very simple and use basic household supplies!
Holi Recipe for Kids: Mango Lassi
Lassi is one of the most popular drinks in North India. This yogurt-based drink has a number of different flavors and variations, but mango lassi is a favorite.
Even better is that lassi is very simple to make at home! It only takes a few minutes to make mango lassi just like a restaurant.
You can find the mango lassi recipe for Holi right here! If you want an even easier and even more traditional option, don’t miss purchasing some thandai mix, or buying thandai from a local Indian restaurant. It’s a sweetened, cold milk drink mixed with various nuts and seeds and is perfect for Holi!
Holi Activities for Kids: How to Celebrate Holi with Kids
Holi is a festival that has caught on to be celebrated around the world. It is fun and colorful and perfect for families. With that has come a lot of appropriation, or celebrating the fun parts without understanding the significance and without supporting the communities from whom it came. When celebrating Holi, please remember to authentically support and compensate the communities with personal and ancestral connections to Holi celebrations.
Holi is celebrated around the world, but especially in India. If you’re wondering how is Holi celebrated in India, the answer is that it varies a great deal by part of the country! Here’s how it is celebrated in different parts of India:
Holi Celebrations Across India: Bonfires and Color
People in North India typically celebrate Holi over two days. The first day of Holi is Choti Holi and people typically light a bonfire in the evening. The bonfire is called Holika Dahan. These bonfires are said to burn away the evil spirits.
Others in different parts of the country may call the festival Dol Purnima, Doljatra or Basant Utsav and may replace the deities with Radha and Krishna.
In the southern part of the state, Holi is celebrated as a spring festival. In Tamil Nadu, people celebrate a festival of love (Panguni Uthiram).
On the other hand, in Karnataka in the south, Holi may be called Kaamana Habba. Here lustful thoughts and feelings may be burned to ash in a symbol of removing evil.
What Do The Colors of Holi Mean?
You can also learn about the significance of the different colors of Holi! Each color means something different and important.
- Red: Love & Fertility
- Yellow: Turmeric and its medicinal uses
- Blue: Color of Lord Krishna
- Green: New beginnings, nature, and harvest (also the sacred color of Muslims)
Holi Discussion Questions
- What is something that you appreciate about spring?
- When is a time good won over evil in your life?
- What color signifies happiness and goodness to you?
How to Celebrate Holi with Kids: Avoid Cultural Appropriation and Support Indian Heritage
An important part of avoiding cultural appropriation is to financially support the cultures from which we learn and borrow. It’s important compensate those from those cultures so that the culture can continue to thrive.
Here are some ways you can support those of Indian ancestry:
Buy Holi powders or Indian sweets from a local grocer
Instead of searching a big supermarket or even making Holi powders and sweets yourself, consider supporting a Indian grocer. You may want to purchase other things while there, as well. Or perhaps buy some for yourself, and take some to a friend!
Learn the story of Holi and why it is celebrated
While it’s fun to celebrate, it’s important to understand the religious significance behind the holiday. There are number of books listed above that provide a basic explanation of the Holi story, and here’s a great video on the modern meaning behind Holi – fun and new beginnings.
There are a number of slightly different mythological stories about the origin of Holi. Learn a few different stories of the history of Holi and compare and contrast them. How are they similar? How are they different? What common theme do they all celebrate?
Buy authentic Holi supplies and craft templates
There are so many online places to purchase Holi colors. Instead of buying them from a big box store, support a local Indian grocer or purchase them from an authentic online source. Be sure to use (and pay for) ones that come from Indian creators. Here is a wonderful Holi at home box!
Attend a Virtual Holi Celebration
You can check with your local Indian community or even just search Eventbrite or something similar. Expect to be welcomed, no matter your religion, as long as you’re respectful and/or interested. Here are some ideas for a virtual Holi celebration!
Study Hindu history and culture
Holi is a perfect time to learn more about Hindu history with kids. Share stories of happiness, success, and everyday life that feature Hindu children and adults.
Here’s a list of children’s books about religions from around the world, and here is a wonderful India virtual tour for kids to learn more about this incredible country. You’ll find book recommendations, craft activities, science projects, dance videos, and more!
Sign up for an online Indian cooking class
This is great way to support Indian chefs and creators. Here are several virtual Indian cooking classes you can do right from the comfort of your own home!
Purchase an Indian cookbook
It’s easy to Google recipes, but it’s also wonderful to support Indian (or Indian-American) cookbook authors. This cookbook, though older, is a staple and a treasure trove of history and recipes. This is another wonderful and authentic one. (You can also find it on Bookshop.org.) Here are some others that I personally have loved.
You can also find these Indian cookbooks on Bookshop!
Holi Writing Assignment: Holi for Kids Language Arts Activity
Holi for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners
Draw pictures or write down some of the Holi celebrations.
Draw a picture of your favorite Holi colors. You may want to include yourself in the picture covered in Holi colors!
Older Elementary School/Middle School Holi Prompts
Read a book about Holi and learn about one of the mythological legends. Draw a picture for each one and write about the significance of each.
Write a letter to a friend or grandparent who knows nothing about Holi and describe what it’s about.
Traditions across generations are important in celebrating Holi, especially to come together and celebrate as a family. Do you have any traditions in your family? What traditions would you create if you were a grown up? Do you have any seasonal celebrations? Is there something you do to celebrate the coming of warmer weather and spring – perhaps the first ice cream cone of the season or cutting fresh flowers?
High School Holi Writing Prompt
Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil. How have you seen this happen in your life? Does good always win?
Sometimes people get overenthusiastic in celebrating Holi and force those who are uninterested to participate. What are some ways we can practice observing consent and safety while celebrating Holi?
Kids Holi Music
Holi Music Playlist
Thanks for learning about Holi with kids with us!
We’ve loved putting together this resource with Holi activities for kids. We’d love to hear if you do any of these activities!
We hope to inspire curiosity and connection through exploring and learning, and we hope this guide helps you and your families. Please share any activities you do with us over on our Instagram. And we’d be delighted if you passed this Holi with kids resource along to others, as well!
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