A joyous festival full of colours, fun n frolic celebrated in India, Nepal and other regions of the world with significant populace of people of Indian origin, Holi or its significance may be summed up as under the triumph of good over evil. The reason to this lies in the vast mythologies of ancient India and acknowledges the essence of this festival now even celebrated in far off regions such as Europe and North America as a festivity to mark the onset of spring through love, colours and spirit.
On the eve of Holi, celebrations start with a bonfire around which people sing and dance. The next morning is a free for all carnival of colours where everyone comes out to play and no one is off this game. Be it rich or poor, old or young, girl or boy, everyone is a part of this happy colourful gala of life free from any inhibitions or anguish.
Legend says that Holika, the evil sister of the demon King Hiranyakashyap who was granted virtual immortality by the Gods that made him arrogant enough to proclaim himself the almighty and force others to worship him, grew angry over her nephew Prahlad as he worshipped only Vishnu and not his father even after being subjected to numerous torture and cruel punishments which made her trick him in to sitting on a pyre with herself. She thought she would get away with her evil deed as she was wearing a magical cloak to protect herself from the flames but as soon as they both sat amidst the fire, a strong wind blew the cloak away from Holika and covered Prahlad.
The blazing inferno engulfed Holika reducing her, along with the evil she symbolised, to ashes. As for the demon king, he was torn to pieces by Narsimha, an avatar (Body of a man and head of a lion) of Vishnu who capitalised on the loophole in the boon of immortality granted to Hiranyakashyap.
Prahlad, the true devotee of Lord Vishnu, who signified good was saved thus making this a story of good triumphing over evil even in the most extreme of scenarios. Holi, as a consequence, marks the hope that each one of us carries in their hearts. A hope to survive against the greatest of odds such as Prahlad did, only if we’re on the right side – the side of truth and good.
Another interesting and symbolic story as to why colours are a part of this merriment comes from the life of Krishna, another avatar of Vishnu, as described in the ancient scrolls. It is said that as a kid, Krishna, after being poisoned by the breast milk of a she demon Putana, had a blue skin tone. His strange blue complexion made him too wary and self-conscious of people around him including his fair-skinned childhood crush, Radha. Upon learning Krishna’s despair, his mother tells him to go and colour Radha’s face in any colour he wanted. This he does and they soon become a couple. The playful colouring of the face of Radha thus became the leitmotif of this fiesta. As a result, till date, this exuberant match making of the Gods is revered by followers all over when they apply colours to one another, friends and foes alike.
People also consume bhang, a preparation of cannabis with milk or sweets, and indulge in the harmonious revelry fuelled by the release of endorphins in their brains due to the ingested intoxicant on this auspicious day. This merely points out how challenging it is for some of us to yield love on our own. Never the less, all is forgiven this day and only love surfaces pervasively.
So what do we get to learn from this celebration of good over evil? If in our own lives, we let ourselves get rid of past errors and take command of the situation that we are in by always being honest, truthful, caring and kind to one another without holding any prejudices or hate by forgiving and forgetting, letting go of past wounds and vying to make the present better for others and in return ourselves, we just might see colours flash before our eyes each day.
Now, wouldn’t that be a sight to behold!
Colours exploding at every help offered to someone in need, at every act of unconditional love and kindness, at every repaired relationship, at every forgiven sin, at every resolved conflict, at every apology, at every thank you; colours just waiting to burst and dye this world in myriad hues of love and peace only if we don’t wait for the end of winter to be good and instead play Holi, with life, every single day.
Thank you so much