Monday, March 17, 2014


RITUALS AND TRADITIONS OF HOLI - The festival of colours, Holi, is celebrated today with great zeal and enthusiasm throughout India. This festival brings people close to each other and becomes a reason to celebrate the colours of life. The festival fills the atmosphere with the hues of love, joy and brotherhood. Apart from the fun filled part of the festival, there are also a few rituals and traditions associated with it. Since rituals form the crucial part of any Indian festival, Holi is no exception. These rituals are: 
Holika Dahan: All of us know the story of the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu - Holika. On the pretext of punishing her nephew Prahlad, she herself got burnt to ashes. Since then the custom of Holika Dahan has been in place. 
Playing With Colours: Usually people offer 'Abeer' or 'gulaal' at the feet of the deity of the house. After that the youngsters are supposed to put gulaal on the feet of the elder members of the family and take their blessings. Only after that everyone starts playing colours with each other.

Matka Ceremony: In some parts of India, for example Mathura and Vrindavan, the ceremony of Matki Pod is organised on Holi. An earthen pot filled with milk is hung at an unreachable height and then the boys form a human pyramid to reach the pot and then break it. The women tease the boys by hitting the boys with a rope made out of sarees to prevent them from reaching the pot. They play colours and sing simultaneously. 
The Sweet Festival: In the evening, after taking a bath and getting rid of the colours, people visit each other's house with sweets. Traditional sweets like the Gujiya is served to all the guests. Apart from the sweets, the special drink called Thandai is also served to the guests on Holi. Thus, Holi brings people together and promotes love, harmony and brotherhood.

Today, March 17, is celebrated Holi (also known as Dol Jatra, Basantotsav). Holi is the Hindu festival of colors and it is celebrated at the end of the winter season, on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna. Holi is observed with great fanfare by Hindus all over the world. These celebrations begin on the eve of the festival with bonfires and prayers. Sanchita Chowdhury, author of the article, lists different Holi's rituals and traditions which reflect the eternal spirit of the festival. She explains that many of these rituals of Holi are meticulously followed, especially in the Northern part of India which only add more colours to this festival. Days before the actual festival begins, people start gathering firewood for the Holika Dahan. On the eve of Holi, the ritual of Holika Dahan is carried out. This ritual symbolises the victory of good over evil. As the fire burns brighter, people gather around the bonfire and sing songs. The embers of this holy fire is then carried home and people light fire in their house with these embers. On the day of Holi, people throw colored powder and liquids at each other. A common greeting during this time is, "Happy Holi." Holi takes its name from Holika and honors the triumph of love over evil. For Hare Krishna devotees, Holi reminds them the story of Prahlad, whose devotion to Lord Vishnu allowed him to survive a burning pyre while his evil aunt Holika died; and especially this year, Holi has fallen on the day after Gaura Purnima, the anniversary of the appearance of Sri Lord Chaitanya, a contemporary incarnation of Krishna who lived 500 years ago in India. (Editor's note).

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”

Published by dasavatara das - “Vedic Views on World News”

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