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“Holi” the “Festival of Colours”, is the day for all of us, and an opportunity to strengthen our bonds of love with all our dear ones

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

“Emerging youth: a dormant lea awakes. The raging colour, singing loud, partakes. In annual birth - spring is born again!” - Mark R Slaughter

Spring is the season of regeneration and is often referred as the youthful season among all. Everybody has his or her own way of welcoming the fresh and new time of the year. It is not only we human beings, who have their way to celebrate the joy of this season but the nature and the animals too have their own way to gladly receive the best season of the year. This is a significant time of the year where the people of Asia and other countries celebrate in different ways. Unlike the other countries of the world, India too has special features associated with this season of mellow fruitfulness. The biggest among these is the “Holi, Festival of Colours.” It is primarily an important festival for the Hindus of the land. Right from the ancient time, the festival is celebrated every year on the last full moon day of Phalguna month that is according to the English calendar; it is either in the month of February or in March. It is associated with many rituals that are performed in the Hindu households. In India, it is celebrated in all the states but with a variety as that is the specialty of this great land of the Aryans. In West Bengal and Odisha, this festival is known as Dolyatra or Doljatra. Many tourists visit India this time to see and take part in this festival. It is celebrated mainly for two days.

‘Holika burns amidst merriment and mirth. Evil overpowered by love and devotion.’

Day before Holi, ‘Holika Dahan’ takes place in which bonfires are lit in the evening in the memory of Prahlad, the great devotee of Lord Vishnu, who was mysteriously saved by the Lord Vishnu while sitting in the fire with his aunt Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, who died. It is the celebration of the victory of Good over Evil. Holi is celebrated with lots of enthusiasm and ecstasy by the people of the entire country, surpassing the caste, age and class. People of all ages anxiously wait for this festival to arrive and for this preparations are done from many days before the arrival of the festival. Even in the Indian subcontinents, the Diaspora of the Hindu religion led to the spread of their cultures and customs and so there too this colourful festival is celebrated. The children find this time of the year the most amazing and their mirth is seen in their playing with colour powders much before the day of the actual festival. Men and Women also get ready to play with colour powders and sometime spraying these colours by mixing them in water. Every year lakhs of Hindus take part in this festival. In West Bengal Dolyatra or Doljatra is organised in different parts of the state. It is mainly celebrated in Shantiniketan of Bolpur with the men and women beautifully dressed performs dances and sing songs. The people put Abir that is colourful powder on each other’s face.

Dhuli, Holi as called in Sanskrit in the ancient days was believed to be the festival that marked good harvest and fertile land. As in India agriculture is the major occupation, so worship on the day of this festival of the spring season was believed to be a way to offer good prayers to the Lord in order to have good production of crops round the year. As the festival happens at the end of the winter season, which is one of the harsh seasons of the year, so the people of India celebrate this charming part of the year with lots of amusement. Many religious myths and rituals are associated with this festival of colours. Rangapanchami occurs on the fifth day of the Panchami or on the fifth day of the full moon. In ancient days, people spray coloured water using syringes made from the bamboos. Not only does the festival relates to the myths but also it had its real origin somewhere down the line in the parts of Bengal, where it was known as the Gaudiya Vaishnav festival by the Vaishnaviya Tantra. On this day, all men, women and children went to the temple of Lord Krishna early in the morning. They offered Red coloured Abir or Power to the idol of the Lord and then distributed Red coloured Abir with a special sweet called Malpua as prasad among all the people. The longings of individuals should be towards attainment of the Lord of Desires, Krishna. This is of essence, according to the Ancient Hindu culture and so the colour of passion, Red is offered on the very emanate of the day to Lord Krishna so that with his blessings the people of the society will hold the intense passion of love, obliterating all trivial differences among them. Though In earlier days the woods and the leaves that had fallen from the trees were burnt as to mark the end of bitter winter and the arrival of the soothing season called spring. The story of Holika Dahan is also associated with this festival. Thus, we can see that this festival has an historical importance as well.

“Bewildering shades with so many tinge. The land of beauty and greatness, India, witnessing colour of happiness and peace. Nation comes alive to enjoy the spirit. A celebration of colour - Holi!
An experience of content, harmony and delight.”

Traditionally, the colours are made from flowers of Dhak or Palash, Neem, Kumkum, Haldi and other herbs. These days some synthetic colours are also made with the help of different chemicals. These colours are either available in powder forms or are mixed with water and other organic substances and then are used by the people. Earlier the colours made from flowers were only used but now a day the use of the synthetic or artificial colours are more. All people come out of their houses putting all the past differences behind and put colours with love and joy on the other people. The men, women and children dances in joy by singing songs. In many homes the dance and music is rehearsed few days before the festival so that they can enjoy at full length on the day. At some places small balloons are filled with coloured water and are thrown on the pedestrians or the people passing by as a fun factor by the children. They even fill their colourful plastic Syringes with different coloured water that they keep prepared from the early morning in the buckets and throw it on each other. It is one of the most happiest times of the country, where even the age old people get involved with the children and live their childhood days once again. Sweets of different kinds and Thandais are prepared, which is made of almonds, pistachios, rose petals, sometimes containing Bhang that is Cannabis Indica and all these are offered in between playing with the powder colours and water colours. In the evening people visit each other’s houses and several delicious dishes are prepared, which are offered to the guest. Abirs are applied to the guest at the time of their entrance and then they are welcomed in the houses. This visit continues for seven days, at the end of which festival ends for the people of some states in India. The guests come in the houses with many gifts for all the family members and also with loads of sweets. In some states even amazing Rangolis are made with various colours and rice. The Basant Utsav is mainly charaterised with play, dance and all sort of amusing acts. Since India is a land with people having varied cultures, customs and speaking in different languages, the “Festival of Colours” is celebrated with different style and taste. The places to visit this time of the year are Braj, Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana.

‘A festival to commemorate 'Ras Lila'- an enduring love saga of Radha and Krishna.’

If Braj is the birthplace of Lord Krishna then Barsana is the birthplace of Radhika. The men and women of these places play Holi in the temples of Lord Krishna and Goddess Radhika. They sing folk songs in Braj language and dance in the courtyards where earlier Lord Krishna was himself believed to play pranks with Radhika and other cowgirls called Gopis. The people get drenched in colours not only on the very day of the festival but also throughout the year in these places. With same spirit of love and joy the people of other states like, Gujarat, the colourful state of Rajasthan, West Bengal, Bihar, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Manipur, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Jammu and Kashmir and Assam play with colours and get drowned fully in colourful water. The people of Mathura continue to celebrate the festival for almost one week. At the temple of ‘Bakai Bihari’ at Vrindavan and in ‘Gulal-Kund’ in Braj, the essence of this festival can be felt with people fully influenced from their Lord enter into a state of trance during this time of the year. In Barsana this festival is known as “Lathmaar Holi.” In Barsana and Nandgaon, this is a much fun filled occasion for the men and women of these places. On the first day, the women of Barsana get ready with lathis in the temple of Radhikaji to beat the men in a mocking way and whoever gets the beating is made to dance wearing attires of a girl. It is believed that Lord Krishna was made to dance for several times like this. Then on the next day the girls are drenched in colourful water by the men of Nandgaon. This act is performed every year as a tradition that is believed to be started by Lord Krishna. Every year tourists come in huge number at the time of this festival.

In Gujarat the Matki or Earthen Pot breaking ceremony takes place. In this a Matki filled with buttermilk is tied high with a rope and the people form a pyramid like structure by climbing on the successive shoulders to reach the Matki. The person who reaches the top and breaks the Matki becomes the ‘Holi King’ for the year. The fun and games is the way of celebrating Holi for the Gujarati people along with playing with coloured water and powder. In the surrounding states of Gujarat that is in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Goa the festival is equally celebrated with much cheer and amusement. In both the states of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh the Holi is celebrated for five days. Here the biggest celebration is on the fifth day, which is called Pancham Holi. In Rajasthan Mali, Gair and Dolchi are names given to this festival at different places. During this time in Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana and especially in Rajasthan a colourful festival is held called “Gangaur”. In this the young girls and the married women make the idols of Gauri, the wife of Lord Shiva and Isar. On the first day, it is believed that Gauri and Isar come to their house to stay for eighteen days and during these days the girls and the married women keep fast and only eat for one time in a day. The idols are worshipped, after they are decorated with colourful dresses and ornaments. On the eighteenth day, the girls carry the idols on the heads with a lamp lit inside a pot and on the way they collect Cash, Sweets, Jaggery and Ghee. At the end they break these earthen pots and throw the debris in the wells, tanks or rivers. This is believed to be the departure of Gauri to her husband’s home. Then the girls make a feast with the money collected and enjoy. In Orissa and West Bengal also this festival is celebrated with lot of passion. The jeer among the people is at extreme level. Here it is called Doljatra. In Orissa idols of Lord Jagannath is placed on the swing and taken round all places. The festival is associated with ‘Dandi Khela’ and the idol of the Lord Jagannath is placed on a ‘Jhoolan Mandap’ in the evening and then worshipped.

Kamavilas, Kaman Pandigai and Kama-Dahanam are the names by which Holi is known as in the State of Tamil Nadu. Here Holi is celebrated as a ‘Festival of Love’. On this day the people sing songs that recites the tale of Sati and her lamentation. According to the Hindu mythology, when Kamdev, husband of Rati shot an arrow of love into Lord Shiva’s chest then the Lord got angry and Kamdev was burnt down to ashes by Lord Shiva’s third eye. Holi is believed to be the day when Kamdev came alive in shape and form and so the people celebrate this day of reunion of Rati and Kamdev with colours in the air as a symbol of love and joy. In another south Indian state that is in Andhra Pradesh the people celebrate also Holi in a blithesome way where not only the children but also the elder people engage in playful acts. The fun can be felt in all parts of the state where people enjoy this mirthful day. The northeast India is also not left behind along with the rest part of the nation that cheers up in this rocking and colourful festive part of the year. In the states of Manipur, Tripura and Assam Holi is the much amusing time for the people who all get drenched in rain of colours. Both the traditional old Holika Dahan and playing with colours are seen here. The ‘Yaosang festival’ of Manipur has now become the Holi festival that is celebrated in the rest of India. Like Holika Dahan takes place in rest of the country on the eve of Holi by burning the logs of wood and leaves, in Manipur, thatched hut is built with hay and sticks and then set ablaze. Then the following day the boys and girls play Holi with each other. They make groups and play with colours, sometime plastic syringes are filled with water mixed with colours and are used to spray on each other. The festival actually goes on for six days that start from the full moon day of the Phalgun month. The people also perform ‘Thabal Changba’, a traditional dance of Manipur during these six days. On the sixth day the devotees of the Lord Krishna dress in white and yellow turbans and go to the temples of Krishna.

Holi is a festival that unites the society, strengthens the bond of love and India being a secular country celebrates this day as a one nation’s festival. All people forget their past differences and meet each other in the holy embrace of the Lord Krishna, Goddess Radhika, Goddess Gauri and Lord Jagannath. It is a time to enhance the brotherhood and integrity that runs in the blood of the Indians, no matter how much away they stay the rest of the year. All of us wait for this day anxiously to meet all our friends and family members and enjoy this day in between our hectic and busy life. So let’s make this b a special day in all our lives and eradicate animosity from our hearts forever in this disturbed world. You all can spread happiness round the world by bringing smiles, the most precious thing in a person’s life. This festival not only is dear to all of us but also spreads today its wings to different countries in the world where Hinduism has entered and has made the world known the very essence of Holi, the colours of joy and love. It is an old custom in our houses to send gifts to our dear ones. If you are planning to gift your beloved people as a token of love and brotherhood then check on the gift collections in www.rightshopping.in/Gifts-Flowers-Delivery-India/index.asp which has a huge variety to select if you want to send gifts anywhere in India and www.rightshopping.in/Send-Gifts-International/index.asp if you want to send gifts anywhere in the world. So get ready to have a rocking party and celebrate this ‘Rang Barsat’ with your dear ones and make it special by selecting amazing gifts for your family.

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