On the eve of HOLI, I convey my
heartfelt wishes to my all Well-Wishers for Happy, Safe and Colourful HOLI!
Holi is one of the major festivals of India, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm
and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of
March as per the Gregorian calendar.
Holi festival may be celebrated with
various names and people of different states might be 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.
Entire country wears a festive look
when it is time for Holi celebration. Market places get abuzz with activity as
frenzied shoppers start making preparations for the festival. Heaps of various
hues of gulal and abeer can be seen on the roadside days before the festival.
Pichkaris in innovative and modern design too come up every year to lure the
children who wish to collect them as Holi memorabilia and of course, to drench
everybody in the town.
Womenfolk too start making early
preparations for the holi festival as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri and
papri for the family and also for the relatives. At some places especially in
the north women also make papads and potato chips at this time.
Everybody gets delighted at the
arrival of Holi as the season itself is so gay. 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 of bright summer days. Nature too, it
seems rejoices at the arrival of Holi and wears its best clothes. Fields get
filled with crops promising a good harvest to the farmers and flowers bloom
colouring the surroundings and filling fragrance in the air.
A Hindu festival, Holi has various
legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King
Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his
pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his
son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with
Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made the immune to fire. Story
goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil
minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the
fire alone.
Since that time, people light a
bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of
good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special
delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says
that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the
kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi.
Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of ‘Holika Dahan’.
Some also celebrate the death of evil
minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it
poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna’s devil uncle.
However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin
of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and
her death the cessation and end of winter.
In South India, people worship
Kaamadeva- the god of love and passion for his extreme sacrifice. According to
a legend, Kaamadeva shot his powerful love arrow on Lord Shiva to revoke his
interest in the worldly affairs in the interest of the earth. However, Lord
Shiva was enraged as he was in deep mediation and opened his third eye which
reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. Though, later on the request of Rati, Kaamadeva’s
wife, Shiva was pleased to restore him back.
On the eve of Holi, called Chhoti or
Small Holi people gather at important crossroads and light huge bonfires, the
ceremony is called Holika Dahan. This tradition is also followed in Gujarat and
Orissa. To render gratefulness to Agni, god of Fire, gram and stalks from the
harvest are also offered to Agni with all humility. Ash left from this bonfire
is also considered sacred and people apply it on their foreheads. People
believe that the ash protects them from evil forces.
Holi Festival Great excitement can be
seen in people on the next day when it is actually the time for the play of
colours. Shops and offices remain closed for the day and people get all the
time to get crazy and whacky. Bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air
and people take turns in pouring colour water over each other. Children take
special delight in spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and
throwing water balloons and passersby. Women and senior citizen form groups
called tolis and move in colonies – applying colours and exchanging greetings.
Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouth-watering Holi delicacies are the
other highlights of the day.
Lovers too long to apply colours on
their beloved. This has a popular legend behind it. It is said that the naughty
and mischievous Lord Krishna started the trend of playing colours. He applied
colour on her beloved Radha to make her one like him. The trend soon gained
popularity amongst the masses. No wonder, there is no match to the Holi of
Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana – the places associated with the birth and
childhood of Radha and Krishna.
There is also a tradition of consuming
the very intoxicating bhang on this day to further enhance the spirit of Holi.
It is so much fun to watch the otherwise sober people making a clown of
themselves in full public display. Some, however, take bhang in excess and
spoil the spirit. Caution should therefore be taken while consuming bhang
delicacies.
After a funfilled and exciting day,
the evenings the spent in sobriety when people meet friends and relatives and
exchange sweets and festive greetings.

It is said the spirit
of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies
turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions
participate in this joyous and colourful festival and strengthen the secular
fabric of the nation.

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