Friday, August 31, 2007


Celebration : Festival of Colours
Religion : Hindu
In the Month of : March - April

Holi is all about having fun, playing with colours and getting doped, all with the permission of the Gods. Holi heralds the end of winter and the beginning of the spring. It is a joyous celebration of the rejuvenation of nature, and renewed hope of happiness and peaceful coexistence. People throw coloured water and powders (gulal and kumkum) at each other and make merry. Singing and dancing add to the gaiety of the occasion.

Holis or BonfiresThe night before the full moon, crowds of people gather together and light huge bonfires to burn the residual dried leaves and twigs of the winter. Metaphorically though, the fire is meant to signify the destruction of evil - the burning of the 'Holika' - a mythological character. The heat from the fire is also a reminder that winter is behind and that the hot summer days are ahead. On the next day, people of all ages come outside and playfully drench each other with coloured water. Brightly coloured powders are applied on faces, and there is plenty of music, dance and sweets to fill the rest of the day. The exuberant display of colours symbolises the advent of a colourful and prosperous spring season.

It's Association With Lord Krishna
Holi is also associated with the immortal love of Krishna and Radha, the day begins with worshipping Krishna by lovingly smearing his idol with 'gulal' - the colours used to play Holi. This is a festival that is as much a gateway to celebrate the arrival of spring as much as it is a way to celebrate the season of love.

Celebrations in Maharashtra

In Maharashtra a grand procession of men soaked with coloured water walks through the streets shouting 'Govinda Alha Re Alha, Zara Matki Sambhal Brijbala'' or 'Here comes Govinda (another name of Krishna), take care of your pots of butter and milk, oh girls from Brij'. This refers to Krishna's habit of stealing butter and milk stored in terracotta pots from people's homes. As a child, Krishna was extremely fond of milk and milk products. He would prowl into any accessible house with his friends and steal pots of butter or break pots of milk.

Along the coastline of Maharashtra, men and women get together in a special dance that is meant to provide them with a release from all their repressed feelings, needs and desires. These dancers utter a peculiar sound made by striking their mouths with the back of their hands.
Krishna is the ultimate lover with his 'gopikas', who are a bunch of beautiful women that Krishna forever seems to be chasing. And yet this icon of love spends most of his time seeking out his only lover Radha. So Krishna's love is the epitome of the freshness of youth amidst all its playfulness. Without Krishna and his lover Radha there can be no Holi.

Krishna's mythological presence in Holi is undisputed. It is said that the festival is also a celebration of the death of Pootna - the demon who nearly killed Lord Krishna. The effigy of Pootna burnt the night before, therefore, ends up signifying death itself just as Pootna typifies winter and darkness.

Legends also associate this festival with the later years of Krishna's amorous life. Depicted in miniature paintings as a festival popular amongst Krishna and his Gopis (milkmaids), Holi has been instrumental in providing colour in many lives.

There are more stories. This is the one about Holika who believed herself to be immuned to death by fire. And yet when she questions her nephew Prahlad's devotion to the ultimate of Gods, Vishnu and threatens to walk through fire with the intention to destroy the prince, she is herself consumed by the fire whereas the prince comes out unscathed. This is the Holika that is burnt the night before Holi as the triumph of the good over evil.

Holi is also an occasion for the celebration of the burning of Kama, the Hindu cupid, with the fire that emanated from Lord Shiva's third eye. But he was brought to life again when his wife, Goddess Parvati, implored Shiva for mercy.

Safety on Holi

Dental caps are a good idea to protect you teeth from staining.

Sunglasses go a long way in keeping your eyes safe from the harmful chemicals of the colors.

Wear old and ragged clothes that you can easily discard while playing Holi as your clothes may never look wearable again with all those color stains.

Wear full-sleeved t-shirts or shirts and leggings that cover your legs fully. Socks will be a good idea too.

Brightly colored and dark colored clothes are preferable for the mood of the day.

Granted that it is almost impossible to save you face from attack of colors, so while being attacked, keep eyes and lips tightly closed.

If you are playing Holi, apply a thick layer of coconut or any oil on your body and hair till they glisten and you become slippery.

This will not only help in escaping from the frenzied mob attack but also will help you to wash off colors easily later on.

While washing off the color, use lukewarm water and keep your eyes and lips tightly closed.

If you are traveling, keep the car windows tightly shut. Better still; avoid traveling on Dhuledi, the day of playing colors.

No comments: