HOLI – A FESTIVAL SO HOLY
(HOLI IS ON 6th MARCH 2015)
The festival of Holi has a mention in Vedas and Puranas (Narad Purana and Bhavishya Purana). Archeologists have excabated a stone pertaining to 300 BC on which there is an inscription of word ‘Holikotsav’ which means Holi. Even the ancient paintings there is a mention of Holi festival.
While aspiring for material and sensual objects, people become attached to these. Such attachments develop lust and lust generates anger and other baser traits. Anger leads to delusion and delusion leads to mental disorientation. When the mind is bewildered, wisdom is the victim. Loss of wisdom leads downfall of an individual.
Holi is an old cultural festival. It is a festival of colour. Its mention is there in Puranas. Poet Kalidasa, in 4th century, under the rule of Chandragupta II also mentions about the importance of Holi.
Holi festival signifies the victory of good over evil. It also signifies the end of winter and arrival of pleasant spring. It is a festival when people forget their differences and thus mend their ruptured relationships. It is celebrated at the approach of Phalguna Purnima (Full Moon).
The colorful festival of Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which comes in February end or early March. Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’. The colorful festival bridges the social gap and renew sweet relationships. On this day, people hug and wish each other ‘Happy Holi’.
There is a symbolic legend attached with this. There was a demon king named Hiranyakashap. This demon king did hard penance due to which he got a boon that no human could kill him at day time or at night time. This made him very haughty and egotistical besides excessively arrogant. So much so was he drunk with pride that he passed an order that henceforth nobody would pray God in his kingdom. People should rather pray him in place of God.
He ruled his people with iron hand. Not even the hermits were spared. Those who disobeyed his orders were meted out huge punishments or handed out death penalty. He had a son by the name of Prahlada. He used to worship Lord Vishnu. The demon king felt very furious when he found that his own son was disobeying his orders hence he gave him the alternative – either he should worship him or face death penalty after giving various severe punishments which did not deter Prahladha.
Then Holika the Hiranyakashap’s sister, evil in her intentions offered herself to sit in the bonfire (pyre) with Prahladha; knowing fully well that she would not be harmed because of her special cloak which made her immune to fire. Subsequently, the two entered the roaring fire. Hiranyakashap felt assured that no harm would result to his sister because of protection but his son would meet his end.
After the fire subsided, all felt including Hiranyakashap surprised that Holika got perished in the fire that engulfed her despite her protective cloak but due to the protection and grace of Lord Vishnu, he survived!
Holi was driven from the name Holika. Holika represents/personifies evil and its burning is the end of evil. Prbladha personifies goodness.
One day before Holi, especially after sunset, the pyre is lit, called as Holika Dahan. The ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. People gather around the fire, sing and dance at the beats of drums. It may have different names in different part of the country but the spirit of the festival is the same – a colourful one.
Holi dahan also signifies burning of our excessive desires. It is for bringing about a balance in our desires by putting an end to our greed and base internal yearning (Kaama dahan) – our conquest over our evil or carnal instincts which have made residency in our mind and rely more on detachment from our action.
In this context, it is relevant to mention the Bhagwad Gita
Lord Krishna teaches detachment: While one gives up all his material desires meant for satisfaction of the senses, one who lives freeing from desires and gives up his false ego attains the state of peace and calm.
Subsequently, at the day time, people celebrate this as a sign of victory of good over evil by sprinkling either the coloured water or dry colour (gulal) of various coul. A real rainbow of colour! In the evening, people, after proper wash, go to their friends and relatives and partake sweets prepared at their homes.
It has also been seen that on Holi festival, people forget and forgive their old enmity and animosity and establish new relationship with each other. It has been seen that people from all religions participate in this festival. It looks as though all have been imbued and coloured with happiness and goodwill for each other. If such an idea fructifies then there would not be any ill-will for anybody in the society in general.
Holi has special significance in Braj i.e. in Mathura and Vindraban region, the birth place of Lord Krishna. Women-folks playfully hit their men-folks with sticks. This act of theirs is called lath mar holi. Here men are constrained to save themselves from their blows with the help of a shields. There is a air of festivities around in the entire Braj region during this festival spanning for days together. It is a spectacle in real sense of term.
HOLI – A FESTIVAL SO HOLY
O Creators of ours
Imbue us in Thy indelible Colour
Thy colour touch our heart’s chords
Including every atoms of our body
Made of five elements which die
(Ether, earth, water, air & fire)
On the death of our mortal body
Only Thy colour & our Soul last
Manmade colours just are lost
After a few hours have passed
Pray colour us in Thy indelible colour!
Pray colour us in Thy colour!
A spirit of Spring Festival springs in all,
Scattering joy and hope,
Nature too is in its finest attire – so colourful,
When all around greenery abounds,
There is fragrance of blooming flowers,
With Full Moon as though it is chipping in, too,
To share the fun and joy of the people around.
Different people celebrate Holi with different style,
But the common strand of celebration remains alike,
People prepare special sweets to welcome dear their folks,
Shopkeepers & women are busiest lots,
Bestowing magnetism to their living places,
Bonhomie pervades wheresoever’s thy eyes surveys,
Abuzz with activity mixed with rainbow of colour riot,
Scenes at the market places are indeed mesmeric.
Legend has it that a mighty and conceited,
Demon King Hiranyakashyap prided his prowess the most,
He wanted his subjects to worship him in place of God above,
Virtuous Prahlad, his own son agreed not,
Being a staunch devotee of Lord of Preservation – Lord Vishnu,
The King wanted his son to be put to sword – very soon,
For not obeying his dictates,
Different methods were used to kill but in vain.
Hiranyakashyap had a sister named Holika,
Blessed with a boon of not being burnt by blazing fire,
Both were made to enter a bonfire at full fury,
Thinking fire will harm her not due to boon to her,
But just opposite ensued,
Prahlad came unscathed with grace of Lord Vishnu,
Whilst Holika met her end most tragic.
Legend too has it that Lord Krishana Played holi with his beloved Gopies,
To shower love and affection with the shower of colours.
Holi celebrated at Vrindavan, Mathura,
And Bursana is so matchless even today,
Thread of that time remains in fact intact,
People light a bonfire on the night before Holi Day,
With devout heart brimming with bliss,
Celebrate triumph of good over evil,
And also remember how devotion to Lord gets rewarded still.
People play with varied colours,
Intoxicated with joy of the day,
Pour coloured water to each other,
Songs, dance and beats on the drums abound everywhere,
People exchange greetings and pray to God for His bounties.
Our prayers to Thee our Lord
Do colour us all in Thy Holy colour
So that peace and harmony spreads amongst all.