|FESTIVALS - HOLI
is spring time in India, flowers and fields are in bloom and the country goes
wild with people running on the streets and smearing each other with brightly
hued powders and coloured water. This is the festival of Holi, celebrated on the
day after the full moon in early March every year.
Originally Holi is a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the
land. There are many legends concerning the origin of this spring festival. The
most popular among these concerns Prince Prahlad, the god-fearing son of the evil
King Hiranyakasipu. Prahlad did not give up worshipping the god Vishnu in spite
of fearful persecution by his father and his demon aunt Holika, who was deputed
by her brother to kill young Prahlad. Ultimately, when Holika who was immune to
death by fire, took Prahlad and entered a blazing furnace built for his destruction,
it was the wicked Holika who was burnt to ashes by divine intervention, while
Prahlad came out unscathed. Before she died, she realised her follies and begged
the boy's forgiveness. As his gesture of forgiveness, Prahlad deemed that her
name would be remembered at least one day in the year.
Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the
eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.
This exuberant festival is also associated with the immortal love of Krishna and
Radha. The young Krishna would complain to his mother Yashoda about why Radha
was so fair and he so dark. Yashoda advised him to apply colour on Radha's face
and see how her complexion would change.
Holi is celebrated with particular eclat in the villages around Mathura, the birth-place
Down the ages, civilisation has advanced leaps and bounds, but the spirit of Holi
remains the same. Each year, without fail, the old and the young alike, gather
into groups and indulge in a riot of colours.
Holi is also synonymous with bhang, which is consumed by many in the form of laddoos
and ghols. One could get away with almost anything on this day; squirting coloured
water on passers-by and dunking friends in the mud pool saying "bura na mano,
Holi hai" (don't feel offended, it's Holi)
Apart from this usual fun with coloured powder and water, Holi is marked by vibrant
processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of