Celebrating the Festival of Colours Holi 2012
Holi is one occasion which is considered as a turnaround festival in Indian events. This is the time when the cold winter air is replaced with the warm sunny environment and the whole world seems to suddenly wake up after a dormant winter season.
This year Holi is on March 7 and once again it is going to be a festival with the best colours and the most amazing celebrations.
Holi has a history behind it and it is the most ancient festival in India. It was earlier known as Holika. It is believed that it was a festival that was mostly celebrated by the Aryans and many in Eastern India. Initially it started as a rite that was performed by those women who were married and it was for their happiness and well being.
Holi day is calculated by seeing the lunar month and is either done by the purnimanta or the amanta. These days the purnimanta is very much in vogue. According to this, the Phalguna Purnima is the last day of the year and the Spring season or the Vasant Ritu welcomes the New year. So the Holika festival was a festival of fun, celebration and announced the augment of this spring season. That is the reason it is also known by the names of Vasant Mahotsav, Kama Mahotsav etc.
Holika Dahan or the lighting of the bonfire is one occasion that is very revered and is observed a day before Holi. This is also known as Choti holi or Small Holi. This is a very popular tradition in Northern India and is believed to be done to destroy all the evil forces. It is also said that on this Vaishwadev worship started so the offerings of wheat, gram, oats etc are made in the fire.
Hindu Legend has it that the day is celebrated in memory of the Prahlad’s victory over his aunt Holika. Legend has it that there once was a mighty demon called Hiranyakashyap. He wanted everyone in the kingdom to wish him but his son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Angered by this, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister Holika to sit in the burning fire with Prahlad on her lap. Holika had a boon by which she was safe from fire. However Holika herself got burnt and the event is thus commemorated as the burning of the bonfire wherein it is believed that the evil would get destroyed.
There is another legend that talks about the kingdom of Raghu. Here there was an ogress called Dhundi. She used to trouble the children a lot but was finally driven away on the day of Holi. So the Holika Dahan day not only sees the bonfire being lit but is also a day when children are allowed to play pranks commemorating those children who drove the ogress away.
Holika Dahan tradition
There is a way in which the bonfire is lit. There is a log of wood that is kept in a public area around 40 days before the festival. This is then covered with dry twigs, leaves, branches etc. So the log finally grows to a big pile. Then on the Holika Dahan day, there is an effigy that is made of Holika and Prahlad and then it is burnt on the night of the Phalgun Purnima and coconuts are put into it as a form of offering and then the burnt coconuts are taken out and then eaten. This is one event my children wait for and they love to poke the bonfire with the long sticks and take out the burnt coconuts and cut them.
Holi or Dhuleti
The day after Holika Dahan is celebrated as Holi the festival of colours. On this day, everyone comes and participates in large numbers and throw colours at ech other. This festival is celebrated in a different manner in Vrindavan and Mathura in India where the festival is taken to a magnanimous level. People love spraying water at each other and also pour buckets and buckets of water and coloured water on their friends, relatives and near ones.
Malpuas, mathris, puran polis and other irresistible sweets besides the traditional Thandai are made on this day and celebrations in South India see the people worshipping Kaamadeva the God of love on this day. They believe that the Lord shot his arrow on Lord Shiva to break his trance and make him aware of worldly affairs.
How to have an Eco Friendly Holi
Make this Holi an environmentally viable one. Earlier Holi colours were made from the Coral tree or the parijat and the Flame of the Forest or Kesu. These trees had medicinal qualities and thus when applied on the skin were not harmful. As years passed and the urban trees were cut down, it was seen that the chemical colours started entering the market. These colours have lead oxide, aluminum bromide, mercury sulphates , copper sulphates and Prussian blue all of which damage the kidneys, cause temporary blindness, and also in many cases skin cancer.
- So make sure you make your own natural colours and have a safe holi.
- So get your Thandai ready and dance to the tune of Holi the festival of colours.