Holi Festivities (Photo Credit: Instagram@thetripstore.in)
The biggest festival of spring time, Holi arrives in a few days and the roads at several cities are already getting decked up to celebrate the day with colour, flower petals, savouries, laughter and full ledged enjoyment. Known for bringing an end to evil, Holi is one of the most favourite festivals of youngsters. Apart from the popular folklore of Hiranyakashyipu-Prahlad-Narsimha Holi has a special cultural significance. The festival is not just about smearing colours and dancing to Bollywood Holi numbers, there’s more to the spring fest! Here are a few interesting details about Holi.
Holi derived its name from the popular folklore itself. Holika, the demonic sister of King Hiranyakashyipu wanted to kill Prahlad in a holy pyre for being a rebel. Although Holika was immune to fire with her magic cloak, she burnt to death, bringing an end to evil. Holi thus draws its name from the mythological episode of Holika Dahan.
People believe burning a bonfire before Holi brings an end to all evil intentions of people around them. The ritual is often performed in big numbers to usher a carnivalesque spirit, breaking free from the chilli winters. Varying reason are given for the death of Holika but all agree that the incident occurred in the city of modern Multan, Punjab.
Holi starts with Holika Dahan and then follows up with Rangwali Holi, Dhulandi, Dhulivandan or Dhuleti.
On the day of Holi, the God of love and vitality, Kamadeva sacrificed his life to Lord Shiva’s rage for others' good. Shiva on realising what he did granted Kamadeva immorality later. People apply sandalwood paste on Kamdeva’s forehead on Holi as a ritual to ease the burn.
It is said, the invincible monster Dhundi who would devour children in her kingdom was chased away from kids pranks during Holi. This may be the reason why parents never scolded their kids for throwing water balloons at strangers
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Drinking Bhang has become synonymous with Holi, There are Bollywood songs dedicated to this practice. Bhang is known to elevate spirit and rejuvenate the masses. As Holi eliminates restrictions and reservations, the effect the bhang in pakoda, thandai, let the mass loosen up to celebrate the festival with full energy beyond any difference of class, creed, or poinion.
Bhang has been referred to in the ancient Hindu scripture, the Atharvaveda as the cannabis plant that is the ‘source of happiness’. It is also referred to ‘penicillin of Ayurveda’ and hence its consumption in mild quantity helps the body to fight against the outbreak of flue during spring.
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It is Maha Shiva Rathri tonight, the night when (depending whom you ask) Siva marries Parvati, when Siva dances the terrible and awesome tandava, when a hunter in the forest inadvertently keeps a nightlong vigil atop a bilva or wood apple tree beneath which lies hidden a sivalingam. Some say that a worship of Siva throughout this night materialises an aspiration for “turiya,” or that state of consciousness of pure self existence that lies beyond waking, dreaming, and sleeping, that “fourfold scale correspond[ing] to the degrees of the ladder of being by which we climb back towards the absolute Divine” (Sri Aurobindo). . . As ever, my language of getting such ideas into myself and the bodies of my children is food—so here is a “thandai” or cool milk preparation made with almonds, black pepper, cardamom, fennel seeds, melon seeds, and—as Siva was The Great Ascetic—bhang or hemp seeds. I dare not use bhang leaves, though the classic recipe calls for just that. . . @hemplanet_auroville #hemp #bhang #bhangbeej #thandai #traditional #traditionalfood #indianfestivals #milk #milkbased #indiandrink #indianfoodbloggers #indianfood #festivalfood #simple #beautiful #beautifulfoods #mahashivratri #shiva #sivarathri #turiya #omnamahshivaya
Orthodox Hinduism demands that widows should renounce earthly pleasures and hence are forbidden from celebrating the festival of colours. However traditions are changing from better and widows from Vrindavan from government run shelter homes are coming in large numbers since 2013 to celebrate the festival.
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Witness the iridescent widow holi in Vrindavan. These powerful women breaking age old conventions and embracing colour and happiness. . . . . . #vrindavan #vrindavanholi #holifestival #widowholi #brajholi #lathmarholi #holifestival #photography #holiphotography #nationalgeographic #discoverychannel #travelxp #traveltheworld #incredibleindia #tourism #festival
Holi has varied rituals in different states. In Punjab the bravery of the Sikh soldiers is marked with the Hola Mohalla festival where the Sikh warriors display martial arts. In Uttar Pradesh women armed with lathi hit men in jest to mark the Radha-Krishna style of Holi celebration.
Holi has not been polluting since he ancient times. Back in the day, gulal or colours were sources from the flower petals and Indian spices that also had medicinal properties. The Indian Coral Tree and the Flame of the Forest plants, turmeric for yellow have benefits for the skin. Synthetic dyes that offer higher profits became popular in the 19thC.
Colours used during Holi hold special significance. While Blue represent Krishna who was blue-skinned for drinking poison laced milk, green signify new beginnings, the red dye symbolizes love and matrimony.