The sounds of drums and chanting used to wake us up in the early morning hours and we knew from the rhythms that it was a special holiday – a Phagwah or Holi holiday of colors – we got to celebrate with family, neighbors and friends.
All barriers of past quarrels are forgiven, all hurts forgotten, only sharing of happy wishes, exchanges of sweets, good food, melodious music and the generous splashing of colors, fragrances among family, friends and neighbors. Wherever Hindus live they look forward to celebrate this coming of spring and if there is snow outside, we do it inside in a more subdued way by simply placing a colorful ‘tikka’ dot on the forehead, but the celebratory nature is still observed with pujas (worship), singing and good food. Every celebration is intertwined with cultural norms and adaptations, spiritual exercises, ritual performances, social and family gatherings. Children learn from these what the holidays are about, why they are celebrated in the way that they are, why some norms have to be adapted to suit the external conditions, and most of all what is the meaning of these passages of life. In fact at this time in India, some people are encouraging a less use of colored water which is usually used in abundance for spraying on friends, to ensure that water is not wasted. Citizens are being advised to just use perfumed oils or other fragrances, or placing the colorful dot on the forehead to greet friends. It is this flexible ability to adapt and still keep the spirit of the celebration that has helped such observances through the passages of time, space and place.
There are many legends associated with ˜Holi”. Long ago there was an evil king named Hiranyakasipu. His son, Prahlad was very spiritual in nature and often prayed to God, which infuriated his father. One day, the wicked king ordered his sister, the demon Holika, to kill his son. Holika, immune to fire, captured Prahlad and entered a furnace to kill the prince. However it was she who was burnt to ashes. Prahlad was safe. The legend is that before the demon aunt died, she begged for Prahlad's forgiveness. The prince forgave her and announced that her name would be remembered once a year. Thus the festival "˜Holi' was created. Some of these festivals are so buried in lore, that the tales are many and vary according to time, customs and provinces, so there are many stories associated with Holi.
Legends of the ‘leela’ of Radha and Krishna are some of the most popular and form a ready theme for songs, artwork and drama. Vrindavan is replete with these celebrations and is one of the favorite places to be to truly celebrate Holi.
We wish all our readers joy and goodwill. If someone has hurt you now is the time to forgive and forget to truly celebrate this colorful festival. HAPPY HOLI!!