Holi is considered to be one of the most important festivals of India. This festival is celebrated with extreme zeal and excitement. This sparkling festival is celebrated on the “Phalgun” month which falls in the month of March as indicated by the “Gregorian” calendar. Generally, Holi is celebrated on the full-moon day. The carnival of Holi is celebrated in several different names in various places. People in various states of India follow different traditions of Holi. However, one thing that makes this vivacious festival exclusive is the ‘high-spirit’ that catches all the people. On Holi day, bazaars get abuzz with action as frantic shoppers begin their pre-preparations for celebrating this multihued and vibrant festival. You can spot colorful shades of ‘abeer’ and ‘gulal’ on the pavements even several days before the Holi fiesta. Wherever Holi is celebrated, the spirit remains the same all over India and in fact, all over the world. Generally speaking, the whole country carries a cheerful look during Holi festival.
Holi welcomes spring season of the year
The other name for Holi is the “Spring Festival” as this multihued festival marks the onset of spring, a season filled with optimism and happiness. The obscurity of the winter season says “good bye” when Holi invites the dazzling summer days of the year. It looks like nature expresses its joy at the arrival of Holi. During Holi, the countryside meadows thrive with crops as a symbol of excellent harvest and flower-buds bloom into bright-colored flowers to fill delicate scent all over the surroundings. Bright colors fill the atmosphere as people toss ‘abeer and gulal’ in the air to show their joy and jollity and to greet the marvelous Spring Festival.
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Legend of Holi
At the outset, Holi was known as “Holika”. Basically, Holi is a primeval celebration of India. The Historians believe that Holi was originally celebrated by the ‘Aryans’, albeit it is mostly celebrated in the eastern part of India. In fact, Holi has a comprehensive portrayal in the ancient spiritual writings like “Kathaka-Grhya-Sutras” & “Purvamimamsa-Sutras”. It is believed that the festival of Holi continue to subsist more than a few centuries before the birth of Christ. Nevertheless, the accurate meaning of the utterance “Holi” is “blazing”. There exists an assortment of myths to elucidate the connotation of the word “Holi”. However, most famous myths of all would be the fable that is linked with “Hiranyakashyap”, the cruel supreme ruler. King Hiranyakashyap compelled everybody in his realm to worship him as the “supreme god”. However, to his immense displeasure, his own Son, Prahlad, turned into an enthusiastic follower of “Lord Narayan”. So, the cruel King Hiaranyakashyap asked the help of his demon sister Holika (who had the super power to conquer the flames of the fire) to go into burning flames by having Prahlad sit on her lap. On the other hand, she did not realize that her super power would work only when she enters into the fire unaccompanied. Consequently, she happened to pay a cost for her menacing wishes, while the little boy Prahlad was saved by the grace of ‘Lord Narayan’ for his tremendous dedication.
Hence, Holi celebrates both the victory of dedication towards the God and also the triumph of good over evil.
Holi in Prehistoric Inscriptions, Images and Frescoes
Even though the festival of Holi had a detailed portrayal in ancient Puranas and Vedas, this pulsating festival also has a mention in the ancient inscriptions, paintings and frescoes. A stone inscription originally belonging to 300 B.C was found at ‘Ramgarh’ in the Vindhya state. This stone inscription has quote of “Holikotsav” on it. Also, the powerful King Harsha has declared about ‘Holikotsav’ in his prehistoric work, the “Ratnavali” that was written at some point in 7th century. The vivid festival of Holi also has a mention in the statues and on the walls of ancient temples. An amazing 16th century panel that was carved in the Hampi temple displays a blissful panorama of Holi celebration. This beautiful ‘work of art’ represents a Prince and Princess surrounded by the maids who were ready with “Pichkaris” (syringes) to soak the imperial pair in multihued water. Ulbaruni, the well-known Muslim traveler also stated about “Holikotsav” in his chronological reminiscences. A few other Muslim authors of medieval period have declared that ‘Holikotsav’ festival was not only famous among Hindus but also was celebrated by the people who followed Muslim religion in the past.
Adorable Tradition of Holi
The extremely pleasurable tradition of Holi, obviously, not counting the play of vivid colors is the tradition of breaking a pot full of buttermilk. The pot breaking tradition is carried out with extreme enthusiasm in Gujarat and Maharashtra. Basically, a pot filled with buttermilk is suspended far above the ground on the streets. All men gather to create a massive human pyramid. The person who stands on the crown of the pyramid breaks the buttermilk pot with his head. At the same time, women gather to sing folk songs about Holi and throw pails of water on each other. This pot breaking Holi tradition has its ancestry in the playful character of “Lord Krishna” who was extremely fond of the butter milk and used to pilfer it from the nearby houses in the rural community. So as to hide the freshly prepared butter from naughty little Krishna’s view, women used to hang the pot far above the ground. But, Lord Krishna used to find the pot wisely and the whole plan was unsuccessful!!
The Grand Ceremonies of Holi
Every year, the grand ceremonies of the prehistoric festival of Holi are faithfully followed by people with utmost heed and fervor. People begin to amass wood for illuminating the beacon known as “Holikaays” before several days at the key junctions of the city. This to make sure that a massive heap of wood is ready on the actual day of Holi festival. On the Holi eve, the “Holika Dahan” will take place. Image of Holika is placed on the wood pile and burnt to punish Holika who tried to kill Prahlad, a passionate follower of Lord Naarayan. This custom represents the invasion of good over evil and also the victory of a true follower of Lord Narayan. During this Holi ritual, kids will also throw mistreatments at the image of Holika. A few people also take the ashes from the fire to their homes to revive their household flames.
Air filled with Vivacious Holi Colors
The very next day would be the main day of the Holi celebration. This day is called as “Dhuleti”. This day is when the real play of colors has their effects. Even though one can purchase the vibrant Holi colors from the bazaar, some people take the pain of preparing natural Holi colors at their homes typically from the flowers of “Palash”and “Tesu”. These home-made colors have a unique scent in them that cannot be felt in the store-bought colors. The ‘gulal’ are made of deep shades of magenta, pink, yellow, green and red. The ‘abeer' is made out of tiny crystals or mica chips. Abeer is then mixed with the ‘gulal’ to create a brilliant color.
Even though the preference of color and shades vary depending upon the taste, not a soul would remain in the original shade at the end of the colorful Holi play. Everybody enjoy the pleasure of throwing colors to the each other. In fact, the other name of the Holi is “Enjoyment”. The custom or practice of playing with colors is very wild in the Northern part of India. People take tremendous glee in spraying colored water on each other with the “Pichkaris” and throw pails and pails of water on each other. Also, dancing to the energetic beat of the traditional “Dholak” is a key aspect of Holi tradition.
In the midst of the cheerful scream, colorful paints, people don’t forget to savor the Holi delicacies such as, Mathri, Gujiya, Puran poli, Malpuas, Dahi vadas and a lot of other authentic Holi treats with immense jubilation. Holi special beverages are also very popular. In particular, the “Bhang”, a special drink plays an inherent part of the Holi celebration. Drinking ‘bhang’ augment the spirit of the Holi festival to a greater extent. But, make sure you don’t drink more than needed!
Holi in Jaipur
In Jaipur, Holi is celebrated with numerous cultural programs, earsplitting parades, Elephant sports, Dance, Music and of course, shades of different colors to greet the spring season. Even though Holi is celebrated with the same keenness all over India, Jaipur, popularly known as the pink city, is one of the best places to watch the Holi hilarity as the city will be overcrowded with an array of cultural activities, devotional songs and unpolluted bliss.
Importance of Holi celebration
Holi is the one and only festival where everybody feels equal. There is no discrimination or bias between people and their spirit. Actually, life will become bright and vivid during the festival of Holi. In reality, this multi-colored festival is a very good opportunity to ignore all sorts of differences and indulge in absolute fun and unconditional enjoyment. For many years, the universal festival of Holi has been habitually celebrated by people all over the country with high “spirit” without any dissimilarity in the belief, race, cast, religion, color or pride.
Let’s eulogize the wonderful festival of Holi that hearten unity among populace!!!