Celebrating faith, renewal, hope, happiness and oneness with all.
India is a land of a wide variety of festivals, a manifestation of its culture and traditions. Festivals bring cheer and renew faith … but none is so colourful and beloved of all as Holi – cutting across all communities, social backgrounds and age groups. Holi is an ancient, thousands of years old festival which has been mentioned in the Puranas and holds significance for various reasons. Apart from the Holika Dahan legend, it celebrates the advent of Spring ‘Basant” and the ripening of a bountiful Harvest. It occurs in the month of Phalguna – March on the full moon night and is celebrated on two consecutive days – first day has religious and spiritual significance and the next day is of social significance – playing with colours, fun, frolic and feasting! It signifies oneness and unity with all people. The element of Divine love became associated with it after Shri Krishna played Holi with Devi Radha in Brindavan 5000 years ago. Immortalised in ‘Kumarasambhav” by the great Indian poet Kalidas and by Jayadeva in Geet Govind – celebrating the divine love of Shri Krishna and Devi Radha.
LEGENDS OF HOLI
All Hindu festivals have religious, social and cleansing elements. Let us revisit the legend of Holika Dahan. In ancient times, there was a megalomaniac king called Hiranyakashyapu who considered himself God and wanted everyone to worship him. However, his son Prahlad was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu-Narayana and therefore refused to do so. The king ordered his sister Holika (whom fire could not harm, because of a boon), to sit in a bonfire with his son. Due to the grace of God, it was Holika who was burnt in the fire, while the child survived unscathed. Since then, a bonfire is lit in the evening of the first day of Holi and religious rituals are performed. People rejoice in the triumph of good over evil and pray that the evil or negativity within them may be destroyed. Another legend connected to Holi is that Shri Krishna would often complain to His mother Yashoda about His dark complexion in comparison to Devi Radha’s fair one. His mother told Him to go and colour Devi Radha in as many colours as He wanted. Shri Krishna and his friends smeared Devi Radha and other gopikas with various colours, after which all looked the same! Since then, the second day of Holi-Dhulletti or Dulaindi is played with colours. Indian art, through the ages, has been replete with paintings depicting Shri Krishna and Devi Radha playing Holi with enthusiasm.
RITUALS and CELEBRATIONS
Vedic rituals all begin with the worship of Agnee – Fire that is divine and pure, which destroys all that is evil and negative within – signifying the burning of bad Karma, impurities of the mind and ego, and cleansing of our consciousness. When we pray while doing the parikrama of the Holika bonfire, we rejoice in the victory of good with renewed spiritual faith. It is a time to ignite the light of God within us and embrace all with love, empathy and generosity of spirit. To forgive and forget all past grievances. It inspires and instills new hope in our hearts.
The second day of Holi that is Dulaindi, is when we celebrate with abandon and full zest! Young and old, all get drenched with the colours of love. We visit friends, relatives and neighbours, embracing and greeting with colours and mithai amid much merriment. The children especially have the time of their life! Socially, all barriers crumble on this day and normally no one objects to being coloured. “Bura na mano Holi hai!” Of course, no Indian festival is complete without special food.
Traditional Holi delicasies like Gujjia, Malpua, Phirni, Motichoor ladoos, Dal-kachori, Dahi-vada, Bedmi puri with aaloo bhaji, makhana-matar, imli-sonth, Kanji-vada, Bhang-pakodas and – Thandai! ……. Delicious, sweet and savoury feast after a morning of hectic fun and gaiety. You could either make some of these dishes at home or order from a reputed, good quality outlet.
TIPS - BEFORE PLAYING HOLI
Apply coconut oil or thick moisturizer on face and other exposed parts of the body like arms etc so that the colour does not permeate the skin. Also oil the hair and scalp, with a few drops of lemon juice added. Apply lip-balm. Remove contact lenses as a precaution. Drink plenty of water to keep skin hydrated. Avoid consuming bhang in any form, especially if you are a heart patient. Wear loose, comfortable cotton clothes with full sleeves if possible.
TIPS - AFTER PLAYING HOLI
Do not apply soap directly on face or body – first remove colour gently with baby oil or cleansing lotion. If colours remain, gently rub with an ubtan of besan-milk. Bathe with luke-warm water – hot water will further embed any remaining colour into the skin. If any itching or redness in eyes does not go away in a few hours, consult a doctor.
COLOURS – SOME SUGGESTIONS
Be very careful regarding the quality of colours- whether dry or wet. Do not buy ordinary synthetic, toxic colours. Use only eco-friendly, organic herbal colours. Easily available, you can source them from Ayurvedic or Nature-based products outlets. If you feel inclined and have the time, you could make your own colours at home by using various flowers, leaves, herbs, vegetables and spices like Turmeric and Saffron. These will actually be beneficial for your skin!
Green – dry leaves of Gulmohar, Spinach leaves, Buraansh leaves, Mehendi.
Red – Tesu or Palash flowers, dried Hibiscus flowers, peels of Pomegranate and red Sandalwood powder.
Yellow – Amaltas flowers, Bael fruit, Marigold and Sunflowers, Turmeric.
Purple – Beetroot.
Blue – Aparajita flowers, Blue Hibiscus flowers, Indigo berries.
Orange – Saffron, Turmeric mixed with lime.
Pink – Pink Rose petals, diluted Pomegranate peel.
All the above items can be dried and powdered for Gulal or soaked for wet colour. Enjoy experimenting!
May your life be blessed with the colours of love, happiness, friendship, peace, good health and the Grace of God always.
HAPPY HOLI !!!
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