Saturday, March 10, 2012


HOLI CELEBRATES SPRING - Holi (also known as Dol Jatra, Basantotsav) is the Hindu festival of colors. It is celebrated at the end of the winter season, on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna. In 2012, Holi was celebrated on March 8.  Holi celebrations are particularly riotous in India as social rules are relaxed. Colored water is squirted on passers-by, and people are dunked into muddy water. Many people consume bhang, an intoxicating drink made from the female cannabis plant. Social barriers are broken as people of all ages, genders, castes, and wealth gather together and celebrate the festival. In fact, it is said that one can get away with almost any kind of behavior on the day of Holi by saying “bura na mano holi hai,” or, “don’t mind, it is Holi.” In addition to the boisterous nature of the festival, this is a time for family members to get together, give gifts, eat special foods and decorate their homes.

Holi commemorates the miraculous story of Prahlada, a young boy and a devoted follower of the Hindu god Vishnu. According to Hindu texts, Prahlada was born to Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons. Unable to tolerate Prahlada’s devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu attempted to kill his son several times by poisoning him, throwing him from the top of a mountain, etc. but failed each time. Finally, he ordered his son to sit on a pyre on the lap of his demoness sister, Holika, who was protected from fire burning her. Prahlada accepted his father’s command and survived unharmed from the fire while Holika burned to death. The burning of Holika gave rise to the tradition of lighting bonfires on Holi eve. Holi also celebrates the immortal love of the divine couple, Radha and Krishna. And Holi immortalizes the story of Kama, the Hindu god of love, his incineration to death by Lord Shiva, restoration and his love and sacrifice for all. These are three of the most popular stories, and as with most Hindu festivals, the stories vary slightly in different parts of India.

Holi is observed with great fanfare by Hindus all over the world. Holi celebrations begin on the eve of the festival with bonfires and prayers. On the day of Holi, people throw colored powder and liquids at each other. A common greeting during this time is, “Happy Holi.” The celebration of Holi is one of the most spirited and beloved festivals of the Hindu calendar and it is recounted in Hindu sacred texts and stories that have passed from generation to generation.

Hindus celebrate their religious occasions with great enthusiasm and revelry. The Hindu calendar, panchang, is based on the movement of moon around the earth. The dates of the festivals are determined in accordance with this system and therefore vary from the official Common Era calendar. Holi is the festival of colors, which Hindus celebrate as an event of divine incarnation of their most cherished god, Lord Krishna. It is a state festival, with the president and prime minister taking part in this game of throwing pigment colors and getting covered in many different hues. The gaiety and mirth of this festivity is unique, as no other ethnic group in the world has anything similar to this event. It is a celebration signifying the joy and mirth of the community.

Dr. Hiro Badlani:
“Hinduism - Path of the Ancient Wisdom”
Chapter 54 “Hindu Festivals”

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