Holi is one of the most important festival of Hindus across the globe and especially in India. It is said to be second to Diwali. This festival is celebrated on the last day of the last Hindu Calendar Month which is “Falgun.” It is the festival which is associated with colors but the actual Holi which we refer to colors is “Dulhendi”
Story behind Holi
Hiranyakashyap was a demon king in the ancient time he was a very strong and powerful king. He got a boon from Brahma that he can never be killed by human, animal, with any weapon, etc. So, he started torturing people who worshipped Vishnu, and forced everyone to worship him instead. He soon started to become a Vishnu hater, later on he had a son born in his home. His son named “Prahlaad” was a devotee of Vishnu, he used to chant his name all the time. This was the most serious thing that “Hiranyakashyap” did not liked at all.
He issued multiple warnings to his son, sometimes he tried to influence him with lots of distractions to stop worshipping Vishnu, but all of his efforts were in vain. Now that his own son was worshipping a God which he himself has tortured, killed and banned people from doing so, was quite embarrassing. So, he decided to kill his own son to set an example for others to follow the suit. He tried to kill his son with swords, he tried throwing his son under the feet of elephant, tiger, etc. He also pushed him from a cliff, etc. But all the time he was chanting Vishnu’s name and that’s what was protecting him, because not even for a single second he could think of any name apart from Vishnu. He kept on chanting name of Vishnu and nothing could harm him during the attempts of his killing.
One day Hiranyakashyap was thinking in trouble, suddenly his sister came called “Holika”. She had a boon that fire cannot touch her and she cannot be burned by fire. She suggested to her brother that she will get “Prahlaad” in her lap and sit on pyre, which will result in burning “Prahlaad.” Hiranyakashyap arranged a court in his kingdom and pyre was set up, when the pyre was started burning, “Prahlaad” started chanting Vishnu’s name and kept on saying it. “Holika” kept on laughing because fire was not burning her initially, as the fire gain strength it started hurting “Holika” but “Prahlaad” was still chanting name of Vishnu with ease. It resulted in the burning of “Holika” eventually and “Prahlaad” came out untouched of fire at last. Since it was the last of the last month of Hindu Calendar, Hindus celebrate this at the same time according to their calendar.
How Holi is Celebrated?
Holi is basically celebrated on two days, both days are called differently as follows, “Holi” and “Dulehndi”. On the second last day of the last Month (Phalgun), Hindus arrange huge pyres near their houses which include wood, cow dung, straw, and other inflammable substances that are natural and comes directly from fields or households. In the night people witness the huge fire in different location which signifies the end of negative energies like “Holika”, in that fire people roast raw barley or wheat and distribute them with each other as a “Prasaad” (holy food). People sings and also dance around the fire of Holi during that night and enjoy a lot with each other. It gives them a chance to intermingle with each other.
“Dulehndi” is the celebration on the next day, which is celebrated with colors, people usually confuse Holi with colors but it is actually related to fire, singing and witnessing the pyre burning. The actual Holi which is associated with colors is called “Dulehndi”. On this day in the morning, people worship the still ignited pyre which has turned into ashes on the ground, they bring some of the cold ashes along with them in their houses and places it inside their small temples in their houses. Then people gets prepared for colors, they apply oil on their entire body, arrange colors and water. Although the arrangements usually gets started a week before, on this day they make everything handy with them to play Holi which is Dulehndi.
People visit the houses of their friends, relatives, they are offered food first and then people apply colors onto others and wish them Holi, kids mostly like to play with water balloons, colors, etc. People arrange music system and enjoy a lot by dancing, eating, etc. But those people who like to get intoxicated on any day of the year, they have started pushing the agenda of normalizing an intoxicating drink called “Bhaang” in a way that people drink this on this day, which is completely false, Dulehndi is a very pious festival but people with bad habits wants to take refuge of this day to meet their needs of intoxication. Those who say that on this day “Bhaang” is a drink which is prepared and offered to everyone, is a person who does not know anything about this day.
Although it is celebrated across the globe by Hindus and their non-Hindu friends, but there are certain places where it is celebrated with different style and way. The Most popular place to witness this event is “Brij Bhumi”.
a. Vrindavan Holi
i. It is celebrated in the temple of Baanke Bihari, it is the only Holi (Dulehndi) which is celebrated only with flower petals and not with any sort of colors. It usually starts at around 4:00PM, 4 days before the actual Holi event happens.
b. Laddoo Holi
i. It is celebrated in Barsana, where Boondi Laddoos are prepared and thrown at each other, every nook and corner gets the color of Boondi Laddoos which is Yellow, later the same fresh Laddoos are distributed among each other. Since Yellow color is considered to be the favorite color of Shree Krishna.
c. Lath Maar Holi
i. It is the Holi usually celebrated in Barsana and Nandgaon, it is a very unusual way of celebrating Holi, where women with wooden sticks run before men with a wooden shield, men has to defend them from the strikes of women, it is a very pleasant event to eyes as men are not allowed to hold any stick, they only have to defend them with a small shield.
d. Vidhva Holi (Widow Holi)
i. There are so many widows also resides in Vrindavan, who are deserted by their children after the death of their husbands, that’s a very cruel reality of some people in India, where they are going against the value system of Hindu. Since, there is no joy in the life of widows, on this day they celebrated with colors and try to refill their life with new energy and joy. It is also a very attractive view to watch as to how these women are containing and refilling their life after they have lost everything, they are true inspirations for many people.
West trying to appropriate Holi?
It has been seen lately that foreigners are also arranging some events where they apply colors to each other, dance, drink, smoke, etc. It’s like they are also playing Holi, but that’s not Holi that is Hooliganism. It may look that they are doing the same thing, but if you dissociate celebration with the pious moral history of Holi, it will be of no value, because you can do anything in that case. Always mind that your festivals are not being appropriated and if there is any attempt from anybody, do register protests and do not allow such events if you have the power to do that. It is our culture and our history and our festival, no body is allowed to do anything left or right with our system and values without our permission.