HOLI - THE SPRING FESTIVAL
'HOLI' the festival of colours is another seasonal and ancient Hindu festival celebrated with zeal and zest.it is a festival which
bonds one another and spreads equality and brotherhood, it is filled with fun and cheer, screaming and laughter ringing in the
air along with the bright colours strewn in the air making it a fantastic sight. HOLI,the spring festival, is celebrated for two days,1st day is Choti holi / Holika dahan or Kaama dahan and the next day is HOLI. Holi is celebrated in PHALGUNI month of Hindu calendar, on the full moon day and that is the period around mid February and early March, which marks the end of WINTER phase and onset of SPRING time: a transition period from WINTER to SUMMER. Hence Holi is known as the SPRING FESTIVAL / BASANTH UTSAV too.
Initially, Holi was very popular in NORTH INDIA, but nowadays with its splendour and the fun filled tradition of splashing colours amongst one another has spread wide and fast all around the world and every one loves to celebrate HOLI.
According to a legend, in ancient times, LORD VISHNU, had to assume NARASIMHA AVTAR to slain a demon king named HIRANYAKASHAP, who was playing havoc with the innocent human beings by torturing them with his tyrant rule. and ordered everyone to worship him as god and not LORD VISHNU, anyone who disobeyed his orders would be punished. HIRANYAKASHAP, to gain supreme power and become immortal, prayed to BRAHMA , BRAHMA pleased by the devotion and the severe penance, appeared before HIRANYAKASHAP and asked him what did the demon king wish and offered to fulfill his wish. HIRANYAKASHAP, asked for a boon of immortality, with specified conditions that :-
1) No God, Goddess, beast, demon, or a man should kill him.
2) No weapon should kill him.
3) He should be neither killed during day time or night.
4) He should neither be killed indoors or outdoors.
5) He should neither be killed on the ground or up in the sky.
Brahma, granted him the wish, blinded by pride and ego,the demon started harassing all the people and banned the worship of Lord Narayana, but he had a disobedient ardent devotee of LORD VISHNU, in his son PRAHLAD, himself. Angered by Prahlad's devotion to LORD VISHNU, who was rebellious and failed to heed to his father's wishes to worship HIMSELF/HIRANYAKASHAP,.the king tried to kill his son various times, by drowning him in the sea, by trying to slain him by the attendants, by offering poison to him, but all in vain, as each time, lord Vishnu rescued the young devotee and the boy came out unscathed.Disappointed after the umpteen number of unsuccessful attempts, the king finally approached his sister HOLIKA, to help him in the mission of eradicating his son who was trying to defame the king, as HOLIKA had a special gift, that prevented her from being harmed by fire, it is believed that LORD VISHNU granted this power to HOLIKA, on the condition that it should not be misused or cause harm to anyone. When HOLIKA wanted to please her brother HIRANYAKASHAP, accepted to act accordingly, and when she sat on a bonfire with PRAHLAD in her lap, all expecting the fire to engulf young PRAHLAD and HOLIKA to come out unscathed, just the unexpected turn of events took place.
PRAHLAD, courageously kept uttering the LORD'S name and immediately LORD NARAYANA appeared and saved PRAHLAD, without any harm and HOLIKA was reduced to ashes, this proved once again that always good prevailed over the bad, faith can create wonders, ultimately when the demon king was turning ruthless, lord VISHNU assumed the form of a NARA HARI, a LION HEADED human being, or NARASIMHA AVTAR, as the time to slain the demon had come, in order to protect and free innocent devotee PRAHLAD and the mankind, from the demon king.
He broke open a pillar and with thunderous roar, appeared before the demon king and also PRAHLAD, when the king was demanding the proof of LORD VISHNU'S existence from his son. NARASIMHA, with all the fury, carried the king to the threshold, as he had to fulfill the requirement as not to kill the demon either indoors or outdoors and it was dusk time as the demon could not be killed during day or night and he could not be killed on the ground or in the skies, hence LORD VISHNU, placed the body of HIRANYAKASHAP on his lap and using his own nails, as weapons were not supposed to be used, tore the stomach of the demon, thus ending all the arrogance and cruelty and giving PRAHLAD the NARASIMHA DARSHAN, FOR HIS IMMENSE FAITH and DEVOTION.
Thus BONFIRES are lit and evil HOLIKA is burnt the previous day outside in open yards, to burn also the evil intentions along with her, and also to render gratitude to fire god/ AGNI, by offering gram in the fire and the next day colours are splashed to celebrate the good over evil, hence the festival is also called HOLIKA, in many parts of the country and it signifies the triumph of staunch devotee PRAHLAD, who opposed his own father, and shunned his father's ignorance with his worship to LORD NARAYANA.
Another famous legend explains that HOLI is celebrated in the honour of KAAMADEVA and his sacrifice. down south people offer thanks to LOVE-GOD/KAAMADEV for his sacrice and also to cool LORD SHIVA., hence Holi is also called MADANA-MAHOTSAV or KAAMA mahotsav. LORD SHIVA, once renounced his worldly duties and got engrossed in deep meditation, INDRA and all the gods were suffering in the hands of a demon king TARAKASUR, and no one proved worthy to defeat him and only the offspring of LORD SHIVA and goddess PARVATI, KARTIKEYA could slain the demon. hence INDRA advised PARVATI to marry LORD SHIVA. The rigorous penance kept SHIVA oblivious to the world around him and it was a tough task for MAA PARVATI to propose to SHIVA. So she approached KAAMADEVA, GOD OF DESIRES, to assist her in distracting SHIVA .
Though KAAMADEVA was very well aware of Shiva's anger and the consequences, he agreed to help PARVATI. Cautiously, Kaamadeva created an untimely spring and with his bow of sugarcane and the bow string formed by honey bees and arrow points of flowers tried to awaken and distract SHIVA, when the flower pointed arrow touched and hit SHIVA , he was disturbed from his penance and was extremely outraged, he opened his third eye and it reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. later, when SHIVA noticed PARVATI'S presence, learnt about INDRA'S suggestion to defeat TARAKASUR.
Rati, wife of Kaamadeva, pleaded with SHIVA to revive her husband MADANA back, PARVATI also enjoined SHIVA in reviving Kaamadeva, SHIVA agreed that kaamadeva can live but in an embodied form. Later SHIV-PARVATI's marriage was graced by all the gods and kartikeyan was born and defeated TARAKASUR, hence it is believed that MADANA /kaamadeva was burnt on the day of holi, hence the previous day bonfires are arranged with effigy of kaamadeva placed in the midst of the bonfire, in the courtyard and lit. All the old clutter of the house is thrown in the fire, the essence is that we sacrifice all our bad and evil addictions in the fire for a new beginning and KAAMADEVA is burnt, with all the friends and relatives standing around the fire, amidst slogans and cheering.
Next day is HOLI, when water is poured over SHIVA to cool him from his angered form, so HOLI is celebrated with cool coloured waters.
Another famous legend of HOLI dates back to LORD KRISHNA'S childhood days, when BALAKRISHNA was jealous of RADHA'S complexion, he innocently asked his mother YASHODA, as to why his complexion was dark,( when demoness POOTHANA, was sent by his maternal uncle KAMSA to kill YOUNG KRISHNA, she fed him with poisonous milk which turned him into blue colour, though he later managed to kill the demon) and RADHA had a fair complexion, to which YASHODA, suggested that KRISHNA could colour RADHA with the colour he wanted, just to please and convince young KRISHNA. Happily Krishna applied BLUE colour on Radha's face which made her look like himself, which pleased Krishna.
This lovable and mischievous prank of Krishna gained popularity in the form of HOLI. His spraying of colours on Radha and other Gopis with pichkaris, which are used till date. gained recognition and the tradition of HOLI is continued.
This immortal love of RADHA and KRISHNA are celebrated even today and this tradition of colours is very popular in Mathura and Vrindavan. HOLI is celebrated with women folk arming themselves with sarees rolled in the form of whips, to ward of the men folk from colouring them and men folk still, avoid the whip and succeed in drenching the women with beautiful colours.
A sport, where Human pyramids are formed and the top most person breaks the pot of buttermilk hung at the topmost level ,when coloured water is splashed on them to prevent them from breaking the pot, is enjoyed by all age-groups. Can we imagine LIFE sans COLOUR or a colourless life. It is next to impossible, as life would be drab, lacking liveliness and luster..
Colour effects us in some way or the other in daily life, we are surrounded by colour, as it is a known fact that colour comes from light and the main source is the sunlight and is the light of various wavelengths and frequencies and is just one form of energy. we are all aware that colours affect our moods too, they can fill us with energy and make us vibrant, they can make us morose and they have the ability to fill our hearts with joy.and have a healing effect too.
Colour is a way of life and not just a therapy and it is a vision and plays a significant role in our lives : it is a tremendous visual expression which explains itself. we are surrounded by coloured forms ,right from the 7coloured rainbow, vast green fields, the blue serene sea, the bright orange sun or the brown shaded mountains ,fruits, birds and literally everything. How absurd would it appear, if all these had no colour, hence colour plays a vital role in identifying the objects around us. they serve as natural signs in identification process. The basic hues are known as PRIMARY COLOURS, COLOURS OBTAINED FROM MIXING THE PRIMARIES IS THE SECONDARY COLOURS AND THE MIXTURE OF PRIMARY AND SECONDARY HUES IS THE TERTIARY COLOURS.
The basic colours constitute of red, yellow and blue and other colours are obtained by mixing the primary colours.for instance by mixing yellow and blue, green is obtained and is the secondary colour, the combination of primary and secondary colours, we get Tertiary colours. Eg:- when blue is mixed with green the result obtained is bluish-green, the tertiary colour.
Hence the entire colour pattern revolves round this scheme. HOLI is basically about splashing and applying lovely and bright hues on each other and spreads communal harmony.
All of us head towards the markets which are flooded with heaps of red, blue green and yellow colours, to fill our bags to celebrate holi, gulaal, the pink powder is the royal colour which adorns the lovely faces and all prefer pink to the other frightening colours, which threatens to hide our pleasant features .Holi get- togethers are organized, with invitations sent to all the dear ones.the lawns are arranged with tables stacked with gujiyas and other mouth-watering sweets for the guests to treat themselves while playing HOLI. Colours are also displayed in huge mounds on another side, water filled in drums, to drench each other is kept handy.the holi folk- lore and other music playing, makes the atmosphere enjoyable.
BHANG or THANDAI is filled in glasses which is refreshing in between the fun.initially when the game of spraying colours begin, we feel a sort of reluctance and fear holding us back from indulging in the colour game, but when we are caught and drenched with colours and water, we succumb and begin to enjoy, and we run to our prey to just colour them beyond recognition, all look alike, it is just colour everywhere.tiny tots with multi-coloured faces and pichkaris in hands, are adorable.
The famous quote 'BURA NA MAANO HOLI HAI' which means ' do not get offended, as it is holi' is chanted, while forcefully smearing colour on the reluctant people's faces.
Enemities are forgotten and every one lets bygones be bygones, and forgive each other by hugging and applying colours to one another, and start a new friendship, such is the healing and encouraging atmosphere, during HOLI.
We all are swaying unsteadily due to the BHANG and enjoying every moment. Celebrating a green holi is doing the rounds now. These organic colours are not bright but are not harmful to our skin.marigold is used for yellow, beetroot for red and pink, going with natural colours encourages even those who are weary of harmful sunnehri THE SILVER COLOUR and other paints. some exceptions are found who do not enjoy this festival for various reasons, the basic being the colours, which could harm the skin and hair or the aggression with which it is played or the Bhang or the dampness.
Just applying some moisturizer on our face, hands and body before playing holi, will enable us to wash the colour off easily, later and by applying oil to our hair we can ensure that colour does not stick to the hair and helps in easy removal..
caution should be taken while selecting colours, good quality of colours does not cause irritation or allergies. Gentle way of spraying colours should be adopoted, instead of scaring and forcing ourselves on others.
Holi should be played in lawns and open areas, so as ,not to spoil the interiors.
Care should be taken to avoid colour entering into eyes and mouth. Eggs are also used to play holi, though it is a good conditioner for hair and skin, it becomes messy and rotten smell spoils the atmosphere, hence eggs should be avoided.
Just by following some do's and dont's, everyone can enjoy HOLI. Opting for natural colours will enable a harmless holi.
So let us shed all our inhibitions and get soaked in red colour to fill us with Energy, Passion, Excitement and Courage ; BLUE to attain Stability, Confidence, Loyalty and Composure and GREEN for Vigour, Fertility and Good Luck ;PURPLE for Spirituality and Wisdom ; Pink for Love and Friendship.
Let us get ready to be soaked in the combination of these lovely Hues and also to drench our loved ones with the same, to fill our lives with all these amazing qualities and make it a COLOURFUL LIFE.
HOLI AAYI RE!!