History Of Holi, Holi gets its name from Holika, sister of the demon king, Hiranyakashyap. He earned a boon from Lord Brahma which makes him almost immortal. He can be killed neither by man nor woman, human nor animal, inside nor outside, during day nor night. Blinded by his power, he made people worship him as god. He made it clear to his subjects that only he should be worshipped and not any other gods. All of his subjects complied except one – Praglad, son of Hiranyakashyap. He has utmost faith and devotion towards Lord Narayana, i.e… Lord Vishnu.
The demon king subjected his son to a range of unthinkable punishments. Praglad was made to jump from a cliff, from which he came unharmed. Furthermore, his devotion towards Lord Vishnu saved him, when he was forced to jump into a well. In addition, he was placed in a room with hungry snakes. Still, his devotion saved him in times of trouble. The demon king ordered that the elephants should trample his son, which didn’t harm Praglad one bit. Finally Hiranyakashyap wanted to put Praglad’s devotion and power of Lord Vishnu to the ultimate test.
For this, he requested the help of his sister, Holika. She enjoyed the boon that enables her to walk into fire without getting burnt. She went into large flames of fire with Praglad in her grasp. The boon didn’t work since she went in with an additional person. She was subsequently burnt to death. Enraged Hiranyakashyap attacked tombs and walls with vigor to see if divine presence is everywhere. It was when Narasimha appeared to put the demon king to rest. He took the demon king in his lap and ripped her stomach, killing him. Narasimha was half animal and half human. He is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu himself. Since then, Holika bonfire is lit every year to celebrate victory of good over evil. Holi comes the day after this bonfire. It symbolically depicts the conquest of darkness by light and colors.
History Of Holi: Bursana Holi
Bursana Holi is different from any other Holi celebrations in India. It takes place in twin villages of Nandgaon and Bursana in Mathura. Tourists from all over the world flock her for a cultural experience. Legend has it that it depicts the cute banter between Lord Krishna and Radha. Young Krishna from Nandgaon went to Bursana to play Holi. He did court Radha there and had a playful banter. Radha and her friends responded back by striking blows with sticks, in a playful way.
Mathura is the only place, where there is a temple for Radha. The locals from Nandgaon continue this tradition even to this date. They travel to Bursana to enact the scenes from the times of Lord Krishna. The revelers get blows from women of Bursana. The revelers use Sanger Van as their first stop to prepare for the celebrations.
Not all of India agrees to the same backstory associated with Holi. For instance, it involves a totally different set of characters down south. It involves Lord Shiva, Kama deva, Rati and Parvati. After the separation of Sati and Shiva, the latter became sad. He went on a timeless penance which shocked other gods. Meanwhile Parvati, daughter of mountains went into ‘tapasya’, for her wish to marry Shiva. The gods got worried about Shiva and the universe hanging in balance.
Even in realization of what is about the happen, Kama deva committed to the extreme sacrifice. He selflessly directed an arrow to disturb Shiva’s penance. It is usually dubbed as the Kama deva’s arrow or arrow of love. After being disturbed, Shiva became enraged and opened his third eye to burn down Kama deva. Following that, Shiva married Parvati, who was in love for him.
After knowing of Kama deva’s death, his wife Rati became heart broken. She pleaded to Lord Shiva to revive her husband. Shiva agreed to it without hesitancy and revived him. That day is still celebrated as the Kaman Pandigai, which is Holi’s equivalent in Tamil Nadu.
There are a few more legends and backstories surrounding Holi. It differs mostly from region to region. Nevertheless, the popular legends involve the stories of Lord Vishnu, Lord Krishna and Lord Shiva.
Legend Behind Holi (Holika and Prahlad Story)
Holi is about Prahlad who is an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap, a demon king obtained a boon which made him invincible. According to the boon, he could not be killed by any human or animal. He could not be killed during night or day. Similarly, he could not be killed indoors or outdoors. He won’t face his death on land or sky. No weapon is capable of killing him. The boon didn’t just make him powerful but arrogant as well. Furthermore, he went on to oppress the helpless poor people. He commanded his subjects to worship him as god.
Angered by Prahlad’s devotion towards Vishnu, Hiranyakashyap subjected him to various punishments. The young Vishnu devotee was asked to jump off a cliff. The demon king ordered the child to be trampled by elephants. Prahlad was put in the same room with venomous angry snakes. He was made to jump into a week. None of the cruel treatment could break Prahalada’s resolve. His devotion for Lord Vishnu and his continuous chants of ‘Narayana’ saved his life every time. He was totally unharmed during all these ordeals.
Finally, he seeks help from his sister who got a boon that renders her immune to fire. Holika, the sister sat on pyre with Prahalada on her lap. The devotion of Prahalada towards Vishnu saved him and instead killed Holika. Some even believe Holi got its name from Holika.
Following Holika’s death, Narasimha, an incarnation of Vishnu who is half lion, half man killed the demon king. Narasimha placed the demon king on his lap (neither land nor sky) and killed him towards dusk (neither day nor night).Defeat of the King restore people’s faith in Vishnu. They throw colors in the air, which continues to this day as Indian tradition.
Holika Dahan is the custom of burning the effigy of Holika. It is part of the Holi traditions that takes place in the eve of Holi. This custom has been continued since mythology of Holika, sister of Hiranyakashyap getting burnt despite her boon. She was burnt in her attempt to burn an ardent devotee of Vishnu as per the wishes of her brother. Some Hindu sects believe Holi existed even before burning of Holika.
As the legend goes, demon king Hiranyakashyap got a boon that renders him almost immortal. He cannot be killed by human or animal. He cannot be killed in earth or sky. Neither inside nor outside, can he be killed. There were several clauses that made him almost immortal.
Because of his powers, he considered himself as god. He ordered people to worship him as the one and only one god. He was intolerant to people who worship gods other than himself. Similarly, his sister had a boon that makes her immune to fire. She cannot be burnt by any fire on earth or beyond.
Though every subject in his country revered Hiranyakashyap as god, there was one exception. It was his son, Prahlad. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. To him, Lord Krishna is the only almighty god. Narayana was the only chant he kept repeating. Enraged by this, Hiranyakashyap made him suffer a range of fatal punishments. His devotion for Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad every time.
Burning of Holika
Hiranyakashyap’s final move was to burn his own son alive, by asking Holika to take him to the fire. When they went into fiery flames together, Prahlad survived and Holika died. Holi revelers enact this scene, to this day. Most Hindu sects burn the effigy of Holika, constructed from wood. In eastern states, they burn a tree named Holika. In states like Assam, they burn huts made out of clay. This act is dubbed as the Holika Dahan, which roughly translates to ‘burning of Holika’.
With bonfire in the evening, the event accompanies joyous exclamations from Holi revelers. Women dressed in traditional attire chant various names of Lord Vishnu and praise him throughout the ceremony.
Holi Puja Vidhi
Like all religious processes, Holika Puja has some rules as well. We call them the Holika Puja Vidhi. Here we have listed down the slokas along with their meanings. We have also mentioned the required steps for performing the Pooja. If you are not comfortable with Slokas in Sanskrit, you can read it in your own language with same level of Bhakthi.
- Keep regular Puja ingredients in a silver plate. In addition, place a tiny water pot in puja thali. Sit down facing east or north before performing the puja. Sprinkle water on thali and yourself while chanting the below mantra thrice.
ऊँ पुण्डरीकाक्ष: पुनातु।
This mantra remembers Lord Vishnu and asks for his blessings prior to starting any important work in life. It is required to purify the place as well.
- Take water, flower, rice and some cash in your right hand prior to taking Sankalp.
ऊँ विष्णु: विष्णु: विष्णु: श्रीमद्भगवतो महापुरुषस्य विष्णोराज्ञया अद्य दिवसे ________ (संवत्सर का नाम लें e.g. विश्वावसु) नाम संवत्सरे संवत् ________ फाल्गुन मासे शुभे शुक्लपक्षे पूर्णिमायां शुभ तिथि ________ (e.g. मंगलवासरे) ________ गौत्र (अपने गौत्र का नाम लें) उत्पन्ना ________ (अपने नाम का उच्चारण करें) मम इह जन्मनि जन्मान्तरे वा सर्वपापक्षयपूर्वक दीर्घायुविपुलधनधान्यं शत्रुपराजय मम् दैहिक दैविक भौतिक त्रिविध ताप निवृत्यर्थं सदभीष्टसिद्धयर्थे प्रह्लादनृसिंहहोली इत्यादीनां पूजनमहं करिष्यामि।
Replace the blanks with current Hindu date, place of worship, surname and first name in mentioned order. Mention the purpose of puja and to whom you are performing the pooja. It ensures that the benefits of Pooja are transferred to the worshiper.
- Remember Lord Ganesha after taking flower and rice.
गजाननं भूतगणादिसेवितं कपित्थजम्बूफलचारुभक्षणम्।
उमासुतं शोकविनाशकारकं नमामि विघ्नेश्वरपादपमजम्।।
Apply roli and rice on top of the flower. Offer it with the fragrance to Lord Ganesha.
History Of Holi Festival, Colors & Celebration
Holi is when men and nature likes to party. The gloom of the winter is over. Rejoicing in the colors is visible for all. Spring is back to turn things lively. People from all over the world visit India to join in on the celebrations. It is believed that Holika was burnt on this day. Hence the festival is celebrated in her name.
Festival of Colors
Holi is often dubbed as the festival of colors. People throw colored powders and color water at each other joyously. They make use of homemade and industrial colors. These vibrant colors define the Holi experience for people living abroad. People are often dressed in white to exhibit the festive splash of colors even better. Seasoned revelers devise innovate plans to splash the festive colors. They often use pouring from terrace through bucket method to make people soak in Holi colors.
Amongst the ancient Hindu festivals, Holi is definitely there. Hindus all over the world celebrate Holi. It is celebrated with utmost fervor, in all parts of India. People from all over the country and abroad, travel to India for a true Holi experience. People travel with Bhakthi for Lord Krishna in their hearts. Lord Krishna is one of the fastest spreading faiths worldwide.
Not just in India, Holi is traditional celebrated abroad as well. People living in Asia Pacific region and Caribbean, where the Indian population is significant, celebrate their versions of Holi. Holi as a concept is spreading to newer territories too. People celebrate it in the west and in Russia too nowadays. More and more people being attracted to Hindu spiritualism happen to be the driving force in this case. In addition, people like the sport and companionship quotient in these celebrations.
Festival of Unity
The often overlooked thing about Holi is, it is the festival of Unity. People of all gender, caste, creed, community and economic class come together in the occasion of Holi. It is the event where you color someone to break down the discrimination. Even, people of different faiths and regions come together during Holi. It reaffirms the sense of equality among people who take part in celebrations.
Significance of History Of Holi
For most part, Holi is all about spring’s harvest. Evidently, Holi is when farmers usually rejoice seeing new crops filling up their fields.
The meaning behind Holi has changed a great deal over the years. Every community tends to have different beliefs about it. In some communities, women perform special rituals for the wellbeing of the family. To others, it’s purely about agricultural harvest and celebrating the dawn of spring. There’s more to just some splashing of colors and listening to spiritual songs.
Every community or region within India celebrate Holi is a unique way. For instance, Punjabis celebrate it as a three day festival. The first day is the full moon aka Holi Purnima. People throw colors on each other and have fun. Second day is known as the Puno, where people lit images of Holika in bonfire to remember the legend of Holika. The final day is called the Parva, when people prepare a range of colors.
Cultural Social Significance
Cultural significance of Holi festival is again a broad topic. There is a variety of legends behind the festival. A recurring theme that’s often discussed is ‘good winning over evil’. In addition, Holika Dahan is intended to burn all sins, in order to gain happiness and good health. The social significance of Holi is deep rooted in India and Hinduism. It is celebrated in high spirits without distinguishing of caste, color, race, sex or class. It is symbolically the only ocassion when coloring someone helps break discrimination. The brotherhood and fellowship is reaffirmed stronger than ever.
History Of Holi Rituals
Lighting the bonfire on Phalgun is the first and foremost ritual of Holi. People gather in open area and light bonfires from twigs, leaves and wood. They sing and dance to welcome the spring season. It also marks the triumph of Narasimha and Prahlad over the evil. It indicates the end of evil Holika. Holi revelers perform the Holika Dahan to denote victory of good over evil.
Playing with colors
In the following day, it’s the festival of colors. It’s time for people to smear and throw colored powder on each other. People use water jets to squirt colored water on by passers. Colors can be prepared at home and can be brought as well. People make homemade colors with turmeric, kumkum, dyes and medical herbs. Homemade colors help celebrating an eco-friendly Holi.
Visiting family and friends
Neighbors and relatives exchange gifts and sweets, which is part of Holi festivities. Children get the blessings of elders by touching their feet. The adults reward the kids with blessings, sweets, clothes and gifts. It all happens along with some dabbing of colors on the face. As the families meet each other, they celebrate Holi in a collective spirit.
Feasting on food is part of the Holi tradition. Consumption of thandal with Bhang is popular throughout the country. To be precise, Bhang is an intoxicant, made from cannabis. Though it’s illegal to consume cannabis in the country, the authorities usually turns a blind eye to some deep-rooted rituals of India.
History Of Holi Festival Traditions
Tradition of Holi dates back to the ancient age. The festival of colors goes by different names all through India. Each region follows different set of Holi festival traditions. Sometimes there is a world of difference when you cross state borders. Let’s look at different set of Holi festival traditions pertaining to different regions.
- Bursana, Mathura
The Lathmar Holi is peculiar and well known around the world. Women drag their unlucky captives and beat them playfully. All is done in a playful, festive spirit. Women give tough time to men while enacting Radha beating off Young Krishna during his Bursana visit.
The Dhulandi Holi is another excuse for women to have some fun. They get social sanctions to beat their brother in laws and avenge all mischiefs played by them. This revengeful tradition is one that’s worthy of notice. Why can’t women have some extra fun once in a while?
- Maharashtra & Gujarat
A pot of buttermilk is hung from a height. Men gather to form a huge human pyramid and the one of top tries to break the pot. Women sing folk songs and throw buckets of water to disturb them. The tradition is deep rooted with Lord Krishna’s notoriety of stealing buttermilk from home.
- Bengal and Eastern states
Rabindranath Tagore founded the Basant Utsav where students decorate the campus of Shantiniketan. They sing songs composed by Gurudev, well prior to composing the national anthem. In Dol Jatra, idols of Radha and Krishna are taken out in streets for procession.
The Sikhs use Hola Mohalla to exhibit their combined physical strength. They exhibit their martial arts in a grand stage. They gather at Anandpur Sahib to celebrate the Hola Mohalla. The Nahsing Sikhs are dressed in their traditional blue attire. Above all, Hola was found by Guru Gobind Singh himself.
Eco Friendly Holi
In history of Holi, announces the commencing of spring. There is a plenty of eco-friendly science behind Hindu traditions. In the past, the colors used for Holi were prepared from flowers. They used flowers that blossomed in spring and that which came from trees. However, with the growing demand for colors, manufacturers started producing artificial colors. They came in all shades and texture. The only catch is they are not eco-friendly. Such colors consist of harmful chemicals which have proven ill-effects on the body. For instance, manufacturers use copper sulfate for green. It results in anywhere between eye allergies to temporary blindness. Similarly, Prussian blue marketed as blue causes contact dermatitis. Lead oxide is sold as black, which can cause renal failure. Similarly, every color has a certain side-effect if they contain harmful chemicals.
Why don’t we try out natural colors? Their distribution is quite good too. If you can’t find them in the market, you can make it yourself as well. For instance, you can make green color with two teaspoons of mehendi and one liter of water. Mix and stir them well. You can use dry Jacaranda flowers to make blue. Grind them in a blender and store it in an airtight bottle. Similarly, red can be made from dry rose petals. Spread them out in paper and expose it to sunlight. When dried, grind it to prepare red powder. In addition, mix a little turmeric powder with sandal powder to get saffron. For best results, mix them in rosewater. Finally, two teaspoons of turmeric and two teaspoons of gram flour gives you yellow. Use both in powder form to get vibrant yellow powder.
For a real eco-friendly Holi, you must consider saving water as much as you can. Besides preferring organic source of colors to chemicals, you must factor in the ill-effects of bonfire too for true eco-friendly Holi.
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