Let the Colours of Holi Unite People, Bring Joy, Harmony, Peace and Progress in Society
When is Holi Celebrated?
Holi is an action-packed festival full of merriment and vibrant colours. It is celebrated in the month of Phalgun on a full moon day according to the Hindu calendar. During the onset of spring, several regions of India and Nepal get into a more colourful and exuberant aura to celebrate the Holi festival. This year Holi will be celebrated on March 10th, 2020.
Why is Holi Celebrated?
This festival is celebrated to acknowledge a good harvest season and as a tribute to the fertile land that produced a great yield of crops. This festival also celebrates the eternal love between Radha and Krishna and hence celebrated on a grand scale in the city of Vrindavan and Mathura.
The Holi festival of colours teaches mankind to transcend above caste and creed. It’s a time to spread love and cheer and meet friends and family with great warmth and high spirits. Let’s learn some unique facts about the history, significance and celebration of Holi.
History of Holi
The Story of Hiranyakashyap
Several years ago, the earth was under the captivity of an evil king Hiranyaksha. To save the earth from danger, lord Vishnu arrived in the form of a wild boar(incarnation) and killed him. The evil king had an elder brother Hiranyakashyap who was very upset with the death of his younger brother.
He wanted to take revenge on Lord Vishnu devotees and particularly on Lord Vishnu. He also had the desire to become the master of the three worlds – Heaven, Earth and Hell (three lokas).
Hiranyakashyap Becomes Almost Immortal
Hiranyakashyap went to the Himalayas and began to perform severe penance for many years. Finally, Lord Brahma was so pleased with his penance that he asked him for a boon.
Hiranyakashyap asked for a boon that would make him almost immortal. He asked for a boon so that death would not come by man or beast, nor by devil or god, nor by day or night. Not by steel, stone or wood either indoors, outdoors, land or in the sky. He also asked for undisputed lordship over the earth.
Downfall of Hiranyakashyap
After this, he became very egoistic and self-centred. He ordered his people to worship only him in his kingdom. He considered himself invincible and started a reign of terror, hurting and killing people on earth to get full control and also get the three lokas.
During his time of penance, his home was attacked by Indra and other devas and his wife queen Kayadhu was abducted. She was expecting a child.
During this time the wise sage Narada intervened to protect Hiranyakashyap’s wife and the unborn child. The unborn child became affected by the transcendental instructions under the guidance of Narada.
Birth of Prahlad
The child Prahlad was born and became an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap was so angry that he decided to kill his own son. He tried to influence his son but he failed.
Then he tried several ways like putting him under an elephant, thrown over a precipice, poisoning, starvation, etc. Nothing seemed to work since each time Prahlad was protected by Lord Vishnu.
Finally, Hiranyakashyap asked his demoness sister, Holika for help. She had a magical cloak that prevents anyone from getting burnt in a fire. Hiranyakashyap arranged a bonfire and asked Holika to sit on it with Prahlad on her lap, while she wore the magical cloak.
A strong breeze blew and the cloak flew from away from Holika and protected Prahlad. Holika was charred to death and Prahlad remained unharmed. Since then, the night before Holi is celebrated as Holika Dahan.
Tragic End of Hiranyakashyap
Hiranyakashyap became very angry and upset with his son. He pointed to a pillar and asked his son whether lord Vishnu was inside it and hit the pillar with his maze. The pillar cracked open and Narasimha (lion-headed man) emerged from the pillar.
It was the avatar of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap tried to escape but Narasimha dragged him to the threshold (door sill) and tore his belly by placing him on his lap with his claws and killed him.
He did this to avoid breaking the boon, Lord Brahma had given to Hiranyakashyap. Narasimha made Prahlad the king and blessed him. He also instructed him to follow good conduct.
Significance of Holi
Holi festival is much more than just colour. There are various important aspects that make Holi significant to our lives. Ranging from socio-cultural to religious and biological, there are several reasons to enjoy and celebrate this festival.
How is Holi Celebrated?
Holi has been celebrated in India since time immemorial. The enthusiasm of the people slowly reaches to a peak to match with nature which is in full bounty during the Holi time. People enjoy the freedom and liberty to let their hair down to engage in fun and frolic forgetting all their differences.
People merge themselves with colours of different hues as Gulal (coloured powder) is thrown at them or the Holi spray is used to drench them in fascinating colours. They also dance enthusiastically to the rhythm of the dholak and sing folk songs loudly to create a vibrant atmosphere of pure bliss. Some people enjoy the festivities with the locally produced intoxicating drink, the Bhang.
What do Children and Youth do?
Children and youth enjoy the festival immensely as they throw coloured water-filled balloons at each other. They also have innovative water guns known as Pichkaris to drench people from afar. In the midst of all the frenzy and games, mouth-watering Holi specialities like gujiya, mathri, ladoos, barfi, imarti, malpuas, puran poli, dahi vadas, etc are savoured with glasses full of thandai.
People exchange Holi gifts, greeting cards, snack hampers, dry fruits, etc. Everyone looks out for new Holi offers and special deals. Some businesses have the Holi sale 2020 to attract more customers and provide products at discounted prices.
This festival gives an opportunity to reunite with family, friends and dear ones. It brings colours into the dull and boring mundane daily life. People take a welcome break to share the joy of Holi by chasing each other and throwing bright gulal and coloured water.
How is it celebrated around India?
Different states in India have their own unique style of celebrating this festival. In some states, people follow a tradition of breaking a pot full of buttermilk which is hung high on the streets. A group of young boys form a human pyramid and one of them tries to break the pot of buttermilk.
All this happens while the womenfolk throw buckets of colour water on them and sing folk songs. It is celebrated for two or three days in some places.
“Express your Emotions with Colours to build Relationships and Create a Vibrant Society”
Which are the Countries that Celebrate Holi?
The following countries celebrate Holi with much enthusiasm and vigour. They usually have a large Indian diaspora of people who had migrated from India several centuries ago and still maintain some of the culture and traditions.
India, Nepal, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Fiji, Mauritius, United States, Indonesia and Pakistan are the countries where Holi is quite popular.
Some Important Tips to Celebrate Holi
Holi is an exciting and fun-filled celebration with huge crowds of people participating together. Follow these tips to have a happy and safe Holi celebration this year.
- Some of the coloured powders available in the market are not completely natural and may contain some chemicals. So if you are allergic or have sensitive skin you need to take care.
- Protect your exposed skin by smearing a generous amount of moisturizer, cold cream or coconut oil. It would also protect the skin and not allow the Holi colour powder to enter or stick firmly to the skin.
- Try to wear old clothes and footwear to prevent new clothes and footwear from damage and colourful dyes.
- Wear large protective sunglasses to protect your eyes from any harm.
- It’s advisable to keep the head covered with a shower cap, wrap or old scarf in order to protect the hair from the dyes.
- Women need to be wary of intoxicated and unruly behaviour of people, especially in large groups. It’s advisable to celebrate in smaller groups with family and friends.
- Use natural colours to avoid health issues and polluting the environment.
Holi is one of the most popular festivals of India and Nepal. People eagerly wait to celebrate this festival every year. Holi helps to strengthen the bonds and relationships between friends and family and motivates them to have a great time together. This year, make it special and wish all your dear ones a very Happy Holi 2020.
Let the vibrant colours of this Holi, lift up your spirits and rejuvenate your senses to create a time of bliss. Let’s forget our differences to work for a better future with peace, progress and prosperity for all humanity.