Bishwa Nath Singh
Holi - the festival of colours falls on Sunday the 20th of March 2011 during this calendar year. Let us have a glimpse of its significance and celebrate this festival with gaiety and fervour!
( Picture of a scene of Holi)
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Bishwa Nath Singh :
Holi commemorates the victory of good over evil, brought about by the burning and destruction of the demoness named Holika. On the eve of Holi, large bonfires are lit to mark occasion and to burn evil spirits.A glimpse of such bonfires coul...d be seen in the above Photograph.India is a country rich with cultural diversities, homes of gods and goddesses where different aspects of mythological and traditional origins that forms the basis of numerous festivals we celebrate round the year. Perhaps, our country is the only nation that can boast of a festival almost every month! Each of these festivals has some significance and strong underlying message which conveys to the people the art of sensible living, righteousness and truthfulness .Holi too has its own relevance. Not just a colourful festival, there are various aspects of Holi which make it very significant to our lives. Ranging from socio-cultural, religious to biological there is every reason why people in India heartily enjoy the festival and cherish the reasons for its celebration. Holi or Holika, also called holikotsava, is an extremely popular festival observed throughout the country (India). It is especially marked by unmixed gaiety and frolics and is common to all sections of the people. This festival is very ancient. Known originally as 'Holika' it has been mentioned in very early religious works such as Jaimini's Purvamimamsa-sutras and Kathaka-grhya-sutras. It must have therefore existed several centuries before Christ. It was at first actually a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon was the deity worshipped by them. There are two ways of reckoning a lunar month: Purnimanta and Amanta. In the former, the first day starts after the full moon; and in the latter, after the new moon. Though the latter reckoning is more common now, the former was very much in vogue in the earlier days. According to this purnimanta reckoning, Phalguna purnima was the last day of the year and the New Year heralding the Vasanta Ritu (with spring starting from next day). Thus the full moon festival of Holika gradually became a festival of merrymaking, announcing the commencement of the spring season. This perhaps explains the other names of this festival:There once lived a powerful and an evil king, Hiranyakashyap who considered himself God and wanted everybody toworship him. To his great ire, his son, Prahlad worshipped Lord Vishnu. To get rid of his son, Hiranyakashyap asked his equally evil sister, Holika to sit in the fire with Prahlad in her lap, hoping his son would perish, even as Holika had a boon or blessing that she could never get burnt with fire. But paradoxically Prahlad survived because of his extreme devotion to his lord, while Holika got burnt and paid the price for her sinister wish. To mark this fable, a day before Holi, people light a bonfire and celebrate this victory of good over evil.Even today, this story has great relevance. It teaches people to follow a good conduct in their lives and believe in the virtue of being truthful. This is extremely important in modern day society when so many people resort to evil practices for small gains and persecute an honest person. This festival edifies people to be honest and fight evil.Holi helps to bring the society together and strengthen the secular fabric of our country as the festival is celebrated by non-Hindus also. The tradition is that even enemies become friends on Holi and forget any feeling of hardship that may be present.It is true that the festival wipes out all bitterness and teaches one to let go of the past.Besides, on this day people do not differentiate between the rich and the poor. Everybody celebrates together with a spirit of bonhomie and brotherhood. In the evening people visit friends and relatives and exchange gifts, sweets and greetings. This helps in revitalizing relationships and strengthening emotional bonds between people. Laughter here is an outcome of joyful celebrations In other words, laughter signifies togetherness.Festivals in India bring people together and also bring more laughter and joy in their lives. This is exactly what happens in laughter clubs where people meet regularly for the sheer joy of being together. It was on this day that Lord Siva opened his third eye and reduced Kamadeva (the god of love, Cupid or Eros) to ashes. In some houses the image of Kamadeva is kept in the yard and a simple worship is offered. A mixture of mango blossoms and sandalwood paste is partaken as the prasad.The day- Phalgun krsna pratipad - is observed as a day of revelry especially by throwing on one another gulal or coloured water or perfumed colored powder. Throwing of mud or earth dust was prevalent in the earlier days also, but among the low culture groups.Instead of the gay and frenzied celebrations that are witnessed elsewhere in the country, Bengal observes this festival in a quiet and dignified manner as Dolapurnima or Dolayatra (the festival of the swing). The festival, said to have been initiated by the king Indradyumna in Vrndavana, is spread over three or five days, starting from the sukla Chaturdasi of Phalguna. A celebration in honour of Agni and worship of Govinda (Krsna) in image on a swing are the important features. The fire kindled on the first day is to be preserved till the last day. The swing is to be rocked twenty one times at the end of the festival.The day is also celebrated as the birthday of Sri Krsna Chaitanya (A.D. 1486-1533), mostly in Bengal, as also in Puri (Orissa), Mathura and Vrndavan (in Uttar Pradesh). It was again on this day that Dhundhi, who was troubling the children in the kingdom of Prthu (or Raghu) was made to run away for life, by the shouts and pranks of the mischievous boys. Though she had secured several boons that made her almost invincible, this - noise, shouts, abuses and pranks of boys - was a chink in her armour due to a curse of Lord Siva. The day itself came to be called 'Adada' or 'Holika' since then. Significance of Holi.Holi is the Indian festival of colors, which is the sign of happiness simultaneously for among all age of people. Holi celebrations in India cut across section and religious conviction. The festival of Holi and celebration of Holi bind citizens simultaneously.In spite of being such a multicoloured and gay celebration, there are various aspects of Holi which makes it so significant for our lives. Though they might not be so apparent but a closer look and a little thought will reveal the significance of Holi in more ways than meets the eyes. Ranging from socio-cultural, religious to biological there is every reason why we must heartily enjoy the festival and cherish the reasons for its celebrations. Holi also celebrate the legend of Radha and Krishna which describes the extreme delight, Krishna took in applying color on Radha and other gopis. This prank of Krishna later became a trend and a part of the Holi festivities. The tradition also states that Holi is the celebration of death of Ogress Pootana who tried to kill infant, Krishna by feeding poisonous milk to it. Let us join to celebrate this holy festival with gaiety and fervour to overcome differences with others in very festivity mood smearing colour on each other face with malice to none!