Holi, the festival of colors as known in India, is being celebrated with with bang. This festival falls on the full moon day of Phalguna (Feb-Mar). Holi is associated with the legend king Hiranyakashipu, as per ancient Indian mythology. All types of colors and color infused water are splashed on each other with loud music and drums. Holi is also signifies a victory of good over evil.
History of Holi
Hiranyakashipu, the legend king in ancient India was like a supernatural, mythological demon. He was keen to take revenge for the death of his younger brother who was killed by Lord Vishnu. So to gain power, the king prayed for years. He was finally granted a boon. But with this, Hiranyakashipu started considering himself God and forced/ordered his people to worship him like God. The cruel king has a young son named Prahalad, who was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Prahalad had never obeyed his father’s order and kept on worshipping Lord Vishnu.
The Legend King Hiranyakashipu was so egoistic that he decided to kill his own son, because he refused to worship him. Finally he ordered his sister ‘Holika’, to enter in a dazzling fire with Prahlad in her lap. King Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika, who had a blessing, whereby, she could enter the fire unharmed. His plan was to burn his son Prahalad. But their plan did not go through as Prahalad who was continuously reciting the name of Lord Vishnu throughout was safe and sound even in the fire, but Holika got burnt to ashes. The defeat of Holika signifies the burning of all that is bad.
After this, Lord Vishnu killed King Hiranyakashipu. But it is actually the death of Holika that is associated with Holi. Because of this, in some states of India like Bihar , a pyre in the form of bonfire is lit on the day before Holi day to remember the death of evil.
But how did Colors become part of Holi?
To understand the use of Colors in holi, we will have to rewind our self and go back to the era of Lord Krishna. It is believed that Lord Krishna used to celebrate holi with colors and hence it got popularised. Lord Krishna used to celebrate Holi with friends in lanes of vrindavan and gokul. This event of Hoil of vrindavan is world wide famous.
Holi is first festival of spring as also known as ‘Vasant Mahotsava’ and ‘Kama Mahotsava’, in fact its an gesture to say goodbye to winters. In some parts the celebrations are also associated with spring harvest. Farmers usually celebrate this festival on spring harvest when their stores are being refilled with new crops.
Holi is an ancient festival
One of the oldest Hindu festival which is being mentioned in ancient religious books like, Jaimini’s Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutra. and originated centuries before the birth of Christ. Not only this one can find the tempels of ancient India have sculptures of Holi on the walls. One can see the sculptures of princes and princesses along with their maids holding pichkaris (Holly syringe) to squirt water on royals.
Earlier, Holi colors were used to be made from flowers of ‘tesu’ or ‘palash’ tree and known as gulal. Those colors used to be very hygenic for skin as no chemicals were used to make these. But as the time passed of all definitions of festivals, the definition of colors for sure have changed.
Nowadays people have started using harsh colors made from chemicals. Even fast colors are used to play Holi, which are bad and that is why many people avoid celebrating this festival. We should enjoy this age old festival with the true spirit of festivity.
Holi is not a one day festival as celebrated in most of the states in India, actually it is celebrated for three days.
Day 1 – On full moon day (full moon day of Phalguna) colour powder and color infused water are made in small brass pots on a plate. The celebration begins with the eldest male member who sprinkles color on the members of his family as shagun.
Day 2- This is also known as ‘Puno’. On this day Holika’s images are burnt and people even light bonfires to remember the story of Holika and Prahalad. Married Ladies with their babies take five rounds of the bon- fire in a clockwise direction to seek the blessing of the God of fire.
Day 3- This day is last day of Holi which is also known as ‘Parva’. On this day colored powder called Gulal and coloured water is poured on each other.The Idols of Radha and Lord Krishna are worshipped and smuged with colors.