Hindu- Festival of Holi
I have always been an admirer of the lovely colors of India so rich and deep with many shades of brilliant colors. No time is India more colorful than during the "Festival of Holi" during March one of the celebrations is for the coming of Spring and the end of Winter. This festival is known by many different names celebrated by Hindus and Muslims alike.
Several Centuries before Christ it has been known to Exist
In earlier times it was said to be a time when married women would perform special rituals to ensure the happiness of their families. It was also a time to worship the full moon (Raka). The festivals meaning has changed over time as well as in different areas it is called by different names. Historians say that it has been around for a very long time in fact several centuries before Christ it has been known to exist. This full moon festival has become more a celebration of merrymaking and the coming of Spring. There is a stone inscription found at Ramgarh in the province of Vindhya which is from around 300 B.C. on this stone is mention of Holikotsav.
Legends of Holi
The literal meaning of "Holi" is burning. The most prominent legend is the one of the demon king Hiranyakashyap. Apparently he wanted all of his people to worship him as he seen himself not just as a king but a god. He did not want his people to worship any other but only him. When he learned that his son (Prahlad) had become a loyal devotee to Lord Naarayana he was very disapointed. He then told his sister (Holika) to walk through a blazing fire with Prahlad on her lap. Holika had a boon where she could enter fire without damage to herself. She did not know that the boon would only work if she walked into the fire alone. Because of her sinister desires she paid the price. Prahlad on the other hand was saved by the grace of god because of his strong devotion.
Rituals of Holi
The Rituals of this festival are carried out with enthusiasm and care each and every year. People start to gather wood for the main bonfire a few days before the festival to make sure there is plenty of wood for the bonfire which will be lit on the eve of "Holi". On the eve of "Holi" there is an effigy of "Horika" this is burnt on the bonfire; this ritual symbolizes the triumph of good over evil. The people jump around the bonfire dancing for joy as the effigy goes up in flames.
Play of Colors
The main day of "Holi" is called "Dhuleti" this is the day when play of colors takes place. It is done for purely fun reasons. It is very popular especially in North India. People have a wonderful time getting much joy out of spraying each other with colored water or powder paints. People are also known to sing popular Bollywood Holic numbers while dancing on the beat of dholak as part of the tradition. In the evening it is common for people to visit with friends and family to exchange sweets.
I myself have always wanted to visit India to experience it's vast history and culture. I have always loved the brilliant colors that surround India's way of life. I would love to visit India during the "Holi Festival" I can't think of a better time to experience India in all her glorious colors! There is many legends and stories behind what the festival stands for. It has many different names it goes by as well as rituals that differ from area to area. But the main message that seems to prevail is that good will conquer evil. I hope someday I will be blessed to visit the country of many colors.