Celebrating Holi: India’s Festival Of Color And Togetherness
By Ritika Jayaswal
Holi in India transcends the barriers of caste, creed, and communities to paint a vibrant and vivid mass of colorful faces. You know they are human, and that is as much you can guess about their identities. Faces enraptured in bliss and showing the face of India. And you accept them, for they are playing Holi, as you are.
Holi, the color festival of India is steeped in tradition and myths abound concerning its origin. Also, inseparably tied with Holi is the practice of lighting bonfires with twigs and dry leaves. The culture of gathering fallen leaves, twigs, and branches and burning them in a bonfire to herald spring is a common festival that is found in different forms in different countries and cultures.
In India, it comes in the form of Holi, and while in Vaishnavite traditions, the burning of the bonfire comes from the myth of Holika Dahan, in Southern India and in Saivite traditions the practice has its roots in a different myth.
Holi, the festival of color has the roots of its name in the bonfire festival that commemorates the burning of the Asura Holika, the sister of Asura King Hiranyakasipu. According to myth, the son of Asura Hiranyakasipu, Prahlad was a devotee of Vishnu, the patron god of Vashnavites.
Vishnu was the enemy of Hiranyakasipu, and to the Asura King it was unacceptable that his own son would be a devotee of his mortal enemy. Hiranyakasipu tried many ways to have his son killed, but each failed. Then he asked his sister, Holika, who was supposed to be able to enter the fire and return unscathed due to a boon.
Holika complied by carrying Prahlad in her lap and entering the fire. However, the Asura was unaware that the boon protected Holika only if she was alone when entering fire. As Prahlad was with her when she entered the fire, the boon failed to protect Holika who was burned to ashes, but Prahlad was miraculously saved by chanting the name of Hari, or Vishnu.
To, this day the burning of bonfires before the day of Holi commemorates the victory of good over evil, the burning of Holika and the saving of Prahlad.
However, Holi as a color festival came into existence in later Vaishnavite tradition with the depiction of Lord Krishna, the last Avatar of Vishnu playing with the women of Vrindavan, and his lover Radha, by sprinkling colors and colored water on each other with spray tubes or pichkaris.
This particular festival, the color festival, is actually called Raslila, and enacted in all vaishnavite temples and communities across the country. Traditionally, in India, Holika Dahan, the burning of bonfires and Raslila came to be combined in the festival of colors, Holi.
Today, more than the victory of good over evil, Holi embodies the spirit of love and revelry started by Lord Krishna while playing with his lover Radha and other Gopinis or women of Vrindavan.
With time, Holi in India has come to symbolize communal harmony and love and the losing of one’s social identity for a brief time in a rain of colors.
On the day of Holi, people exchange gifts and sweets and anoint each other with color to celebrate the joy of life. Holi brings out the spirit of India in a fashion that no other festival can, for Holi has no barriers.
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Fun Holi Activities for Kids:
Easy Face Painting – Face Painting for a birthday party, fundraiser, class party or just for fun has never been simpler. This step-by-step guide to easy and popular cheek art designs features over 50 step-by-step designs with full color photographs.
365 Kids Games – 365 surefire ways to keep the kids entertained, every day of the year. Discover the secrets to keeping your kids entertained in a cheap and fun easy way.
Children’s Activities: Printable Craft & Activity Templates – Encourage your child’s imagination and creativity with the numerous learning experiences, craft activities and coloring templates while enhancing their gross and fine motor skills. Immerse children in real life maths experiences with the many cooking, counting and puzzle activities.
Holi – festival of colors