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Holi, a Festival of Fraternity

November 21, 2011  by: Paulose  Points: 25   Category: Celebrity    Views: 583

The whole humanity is one large family. All men and women are brothers and sisters of the same family. The festival of Holi celebrates that fraternity.


God in colors! God, our creator, is alive in red, yellow, blue, green and thousands of blended colors! Sharing the joy of peace and merry making! How wonderful it is! Yes, it is Holi, the festival of colors!

As the great Indian national poet Bharathiyar invokes God in colors with these words, "O Krishna! How wonderful are you in your blue black color!" Holi is a festival searching and reaching God joyfully in everyone in innocent playing! It is the heart of Hindu Dharma.

Sharing Joy: The Dharma of Hinduism

"I am god; you are god; every being is god," that is the philosophy of Hinduism. Karma is our existence and sharing joyfully wherever we are and whatever we have is the Dharma of every existence. This joyful sharing is celebrated in Hinduism in various festivals in different names in different areas. As one of the major festivals of Hinduism, Holi is celebrated in North India with great enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which falls in the month of March. Holi festival may be celebrated with various names by different people of different areas following different traditions. But what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.

Holi: The Festival of Finding God in Colorful Nature

This festival of joy, mirth and buoyancy is celebrated when both Man and Nature cast off their winter gloom. Holi heralds the arrival of Spring - the season of hope and new beginnings and marks the rekindling of the spirit of life. Gulmohurs, corals, silk-cottons and mango trees start flowering, gardens and parks present a glorious spectacle of a riot of colors - crimson, red, pink, orange, golden yellow, lemon and a variety of glittering greens. Men who remained indoors during the cold months of winter emerge out to see a new sparkling world of color and gaiety. The flowers breathe out their fragrance into space and brooks and streams leap in the valleys, Men rejoice with brilliant light of day and the eloquent silence of night. And then the joy, bubbling in their hearts, finds expression in dance, drama and music.

Welcoming God in the Blooming Nature

Everybody gets delighted at the arrival of Holi as the season itself is blossoming in so many colorful shades! Holi is also called the Spring Festival - as it marks the arrival of spring the season of hope and joy. The gloom of the winter goes as Holi promises bright summer days. Nature too, as it seems, rejoices at the arrival of Holi and wears its best clothes of different shades. Flowers bloom everywhere exposing the Dharma of Nature filling the air with joy. Fields get filled with crops promising a good harvest to the farmers with hopeful dreams. Holi also puts an end to the days of trials and tribulations for the poor who remained ill-clad and without adequate shelter during the chilling cold of the winter season.

Holi in Hindu Texts

Citations about the festival of Holi are found in many Hindu scriptures and puranas like Dashakumara Charitha and Garuda Purana. Ratnavali written by Harshadev in seventh century contains a colorful description of Holi. Mahakavi Kalidasa hails it as festival of love calling it "Madanotsav."

Holi: Legends of Hindu Deities

There are many legends about the festival of Holi. All of them describe the victory of good over evil. Two main legends can be mentioned here: one from the North India and the other from the South.

Lord Krishna (Vishnu), protecting humanity from the cruelty of evil demons, is described in different legends in the north. Lord Siva burning Kama deva (lust and desire) and saving humanity from the evil is another.

A Legend from the North

One of the mythological stories of North India narrates about an arrogant king, named Hiranyakasipu, who declares himself as god and compels all to worship him. He ill-treats those who are against this and punishes even his own son Prahlada for worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son many times but fails each time. Finally, the king's sister Holika, who is said to be immune to burning, sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlada emerges unscathed, while his aunt burns to death. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires symbolizing Holika are burnt on the eve of Holi.

Another Hindu mythological legend is about Lord Krishna's childhood pranks. As a child Krishna was playing mischief with the gopikas(cowherd girls) with whom he was growing up in Vrindavan. He was playing with them playing his bamboo flute which captivated the hearts of the gopikas. Among the gopikas, especially, was his beloved Radha who was extremely happy in the company of Krishna. They were playing singing songs and splashing with colored waters at one another. The display of splashing colored waters at Holi is the commemoration of Krishna's childhood pranks in Vrindavan. Most of the folk songs and folk dances called Raas-Lila performed during Holi are recitals of the love of Radha and Krishna.

A Legend from the South

In South India, people worship Kamadeva- the god of love and passion. According to a legend, Kamadeva shot his powerful love arrow on Lord Siva to revoke his attention to
the worldly affairs in the interest of the people on the earth. However, Lord Siva was enraged as he was in deep mediation and opened his third eye which burnt Kamadeva to ashes. After some time on the request of Rati, Kamadeva's wife, Siva was pleased to restore him back. This symbolizes the victory of goodness over evil in the form of lust and desire.

Rituals of Joy and Sharing

In many places of North India the central ritual of Holi is the throwing and applying of colored water and powders on friends and family members, which gives the festival its common name "Festival of Colors." This ritual is said to be based on the above story of Krishna and Radha as well as on Krishna's playful splashing of the maids with water.

In Bengal and some eastern parts of India, Holi features the Dolayatra (Swing Festival), in which images of the gods are placed on specially decorated platforms and devotees take turns swinging them. In the meantime, women dance around and sing special songs as men spray colored water at them.

The Great Philosophy of Hinduism in the Holi Festival

The festival of Holi brings out the kernel of the great Hindu philosophy i.e., finding God in every being and sharing the Dharma. The social element during Holi is the uniting or "embracing" of the great and the small, of the rich and the poor. The festival teaches us to uplift the status of Karma by doing Dharma. We should forget the outgoing year's ill-feelings and begin the New Year with feelings of love, sympathy, co-operation and equality with all. We should try to feel this oneness or unity with the Supreme Self also.

Holi also means "sacrifice". Burn all the impurities of the mind, such as egoism, vanity and lust, through the fire of devotion and knowledge. Ignite cosmic love, mercy, generosity, selflessness, truthfulness and purity through the fire of Yogic practice. This is the real spirit of Holi. Rise from the mire of stupidity and absurdity and dive deep into the ocean of divinity.

Holi: The Call of Hinduism to Love and Share

The call of Holi is to always keep ablaze the light of God-love shining in your heart by sharing the Dharma. Inner illumination is the real Holi. The spring season is the manifestation of the Lord, according to the Bhagavad Gita. Holi is the blossoming of hearts.


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