To understand a culture you have to understand its festivals. What a community of people celebrates says a lot about their values and priorities.
A leaf from history
Holi is one of the main festivals of our country. Holi is celebrated on phalgun purnima , around the spring season, when people are expectant of a bountiful crop. The spirit of the festival is expressed in its two main rituals. One being the ‘holika dahan’ i.e the burning of a huge bonfire symbolic of the victory of good over evil and other being of the playing with colours/gulal symbolic of unity and harmony.
The mythological roots of holi go back to the times of Mahabharata when Lord Krishna used to play holi with his Gopis. The most spectacular holi till celebration date remains the one played in Mathura where people go all out drenched in the fervor and gaiety of this festival.
The origin of holi is also credited to the episode where Lord Shiva was shot a ‘love arrow ‘ by kamdeva , resulting in the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parwati. The burning of holi is said to be related to the attempt to burn a young Prehlad by evil Holika , who herself was consumed by the fires. The festival of holi is reminiscent of these religious and sentimental tales for people. Holi is also an excuse to indulge in scrumptious homemade delights particular to each part of the country.
Holi brings people of all walks together, when they sing, dance and rub gulal and abeer on each other’s faces. As the famous Bollywood song goes…
Holi ke din dil mil jate hain ,
Rangon mein rang mil jate hain…
Forget and forgive
Holi is a day to forget and forgive any misgivings and rejoice in the mirthful festivities. Small fairs are organized in various parts of the country. Delicacies as jalebi , imarti, rasmalai are prepared.
People become one, smeared with the hues of love and joy. The best part is that people make little tolis /groups and roam about pulling everyone in the festive play of colors. Colored powders and colored water is used for the ceerful light hearted fights .
When all become one
Holi is essentially a festival of masses. The huge numbers of people that come together in merry surrender, the music, the colors and the carefree abandonment is a sight to see. Holi is a day when people forget the religious, casteist or socio economic divides and give into their childish silliness. On this day everyone is filled with enthusiasm and an openness of heart we so desperately need.
The spirit of Holi
The spirit of holi is what we lack, to carry it in our hearts, teaching us to be more accepting of each other. It teaches us to embrace our differences and share in the joys given to us. In these times of intolerance, the spirit of holi can teach us to come together and remember how a Rahul played holi with a Salim ,with gulal. Of how a Sarita danced all day with Maria, drenched in colored water. We can all tap into that child in our hearts to remember how good and precious that feeling of togetherness was.
To learn from that happy space in our lives, when we danced with a joyous childishness embracing our differences. Holi in essence represents the tolerance and welcoming of spirit of our Indian culture .
We wish all our readers a happy and colourful Holi 🙂
Also read : All in the world of colours