Holi Festival In India

by admin on March 12, 2013

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Happy HoliHoli heralds in the advent of spring in a kaleidoscopic assortment of colours. Legend has it that the king of demons Hiranyakashipu was granted a boon by Lord Brahma so that he could not be killed during day or night, at home or outside, nor on earth or in the sky, not by man or animal neither by astra or shastra. Gaining this invincible power of immortality, he attacked the Heaven and earth, demanding obeisance from one and all. His son Prahlada, didn’t like his father’s wicked ways. Prahlada was a worshiper of Lord Vishnu much to Hiranyakashipu’s annoyance. He tried poisoning his son, but the poison turned to nectar. He ordered his son to be trampled by elephants but Prahlada remained unscathed. Even venomous snakes failed to harm him. Hiranyakashipu asked his sister Holika who was blessed to be fireproof, to incinerate Prahlada but instead Holika herself was overwhelmed by fire. This became the genesis for the name Holi and its association with burning of bonfires. Another legend says that Lord Shiva was deep in meditation and forgot about all his worldly needs, much to Goddess Parvati’s exasperation. All the Gods sought the God of love, Lord Kaamadeva’s help. Lord Kaamadeva knew it was dangerous to disturb Lord Shiva at this time. Nevertheless, he shot the arrow of love into Lord Shiva’s heart. An enraged Lord Shiva opened his third eye and reduced Lord Kaamadeva to ashes. But the arrow had its effect. Later, Lord Kaamadev’s wife, Rati, pleaded with Lord Shiva, and the generous Lord Shiva restored Lord Kaamadeva’s life.

Holi is celebrated all over India as the festival of colours, but most of all in Mathura-the birth place of Lord Krishna; where the festival continues for 16 days. In Mathura, Vrindavan, Phalen, Nandgaon, Barsana and Gokul; Holi is celebrated as Braj Bhoomi.Happy Holi

In Phalen, a huge bonfire is lit on the full moon night and scenes from the Prahlad-Holika chapter are re-enacted, while the priests walk on fire, without burning themselves. Another story unfolds when the men folk of Nandgaon raid the neighboring village Barsana and try to place their own flag on the Radhika temple as symbol of victory. They are driven back by the defending womenfolk of Barsana wielding long bamboo sticks while the men try to defend themselves by sprinkling colours. Any man trapped by the women is forced to dress and dance like a woman by wearing a saree and applying makeup. The reverse occurs the next day with the men folk of Barsana try to place their flag in Shri ji temple in Nandgaon and the women folk try to defend it with bamboo sticks. This event is called Lath Maar Holi, and even Lord Krishna was supposedly made to dress and dance like a woman by the women of Barsana. This is indeed a spectacle to behold, but do secure yourself by padding up. Also remember that Mathura is just 150 kilometres from Delhi and takes just takes a little over 2 hours to reach by car.

Holi is known as Hola Mohalla in Punjab, Dulandi Holi in Haryana, Dol Jatra in Bengal, Rangapanchami in Maharastra and Madhya Pradesh, Dol Purnima in Orissa and has three different names in Tamil Nadu: Kamavilas, Kaman Pandigai and Kama Dahanam. Holi celebrations take an interesting turn in Himachal Pradesh where the colours are mixed with snow at the Solang Pass; thus making it an Ice Holi!

Do remember to play Holi with Natural colours made from neem, kumkum, haldi and Bilva as chemical colours can be dangerous to health. Wishing you all a very Happy Holi!

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