Holi is an ancient festival of India and was originally known as ‘Holika’. The festivals find a detailed description in the early religious works such as Jaimini’s Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Gruhya-Sutras.
One prominent legend about Holi
There are various legends to explain the meaning of this word, most prominent of all is the legend associated with demon king Hiranyakashyapu. Hiranyakashyapu wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship only him, but to his great disappointment, his son Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Shri Narayan. Hiranyakashyapu commanded his sister, Holika, to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. Holika had a boon whereby she could enter the fire without any harm to herself. However, she was not aware that the boon worked only when she enters the fire alone. As a result, she paid the price for her sinister desires, when Prahlad was saved by the grace of God for his deep devotion. Celebration of the various legends associated with Holi reassures the people of the power of the Truth. The moral of all these legends is the ultimate victory of good over evil.
Deep devotion to God pays as God always takes His true devotee under His shelter.
Significance of Holi
Despite being such a colourful and gay festival, there are various aspects of Holi which makes it so significant for our lives. Though they might not be so apparent, a closer look and a little thought will reveal the significance of Holi in more ways than meets the eyes. Ranging from socio-cultural, religious to biological aspects, there is every reason why we must heartily celebrate the festival and cherish the reasons.
Legends such as Prahlad help people follow good conduct in their lives and believe in the virtue of being truthful. This is important in modern-day society when so many people resort to evil practices for small gains and torture those who are honest. Holi helps people believe in the virtue of being truthful and honest and also to fight evil.
How to light the Holi fire ?
In the centre of the fire, there is either a castor-oil plcocant, onut or areca-nut tree or sugarcane, around which dry cowdung cakes and dry wood are arranged. After a bath and recital of the place and time, the individual performing the ritual should first make the following resolve – ‘To get relief from the trouble caused by Dhunda, my family members and I worship Holika’. Next, the Puja is performed, followed by offering Naivedya.
After this, saying || Holikayai Namaha ||, the fire should be lit and the fire be circum-ambulated. Then, make a shrill noise with the palm over the mouth. After the fire is completely burnt, it should be extinguished by sprinkling milk and ghee. Fruits such as coconut, grapes should be distributed to people who have assembled there.
The next day at dawn, after paying obeisance to the ash of the Holi, it should be applied to the body and then one should bathe. In the morning, the ash of the Holi should be immersed in flowing water after a prayer to the Holi.
Do’s and Don’ts of the Holi Festival
This is celebrated on the fifth day (Panchami) in the dark fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Phalgun by throwing a red, fragrant powder (known as gulal) and splashing colour water, etc. on others.
The fire, which shines with its brilliance on Holi, decomposes the particles of Raja-Tama components in the atmosphere and this helps activate the Principles of various Deities in the form of colours. Bliss generated from this is celebrated by throwing colours in the air. Thus, Ranga Panchami is a symbol of victory over the Raja-Tama components.
Preventing malpractices during Holi is our religious duty !
There are a lot of malpractices taking place under the pretext of celebrating Holi today; for example – Attacks on pedestrians, theft of property and goods and frolicking after consuming alcohol. Similarly, on the day of Ranga Panchami, people indulge in malpractices such as eve-teasing, throwing balloons, applying dangerous dyes to the body, etc. These malpractices harm Dharma, and hence, putting an end to these is our religious duty. Spread this word in the society and even after doing so, if you come across such incidents, lodge complaints with the Police.
Avoid using chemical colours !
Earlier, natural colours were used in Holi and Ranga Panchami; however, these have been replaced by artificial colours, leading to health hazards for the people.
Hazards of chemical colours
In 2001, research conducted by companies such as ‘Toxic Link’ and ‘Vatavaran’ in New Delhi said that all the 3 forms of colours available (paste, powder and liquid) are dangerous for human health. Poisonous chemicals found in the paste and their adverse effects are as follows. Colours used in the form of powder have asbestos or silica which are harmful for the skin. In liquid colours, there is gentian violet which can change the colour of the skin and lead to skin cancer.
Enjoy the Holi festival but avoid hideous exhibition !
The religious nature of Holi has completely changed with time and it has taken a very bad, a kind of hideous, obscene form. On this day, one gets to see the depth of depravity a human can stoop to. Different kinds of beastly things happen on this day – shouting, abusing, blackening each other’s faces, dancing after consuming liquor, etc. Such things are not done by the respectable and decent Hindu community. We proudly claim that the Hindu community abides by Sanatan Principles, is very progressive in its thinking and cultural matters; whereas people from the same community take to such hideous activities. This is so unfortunate.
For many years now, malpractices have been taking place during the celebration of the Holi festival. These malpractices are harmful to Dharma, culture and society. Hindus should be firm and make efforts to stop the abovementioned malpractices.
Hindus should also create awareness about the wrongdoings such as the forcible collection of donations, stealing wood to burn the Holi fire, etc.
Hindus should be firm and make efforts to stop the malpractices that are harmful to Dharma, culture and society !