Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Indian Festival - Holi

Holi is one of the most colorful and vibrant festivals celebrated in India. Like many other festivals, Holi has an ancient origin, the tradition of which is being followed since time immemorial.

Why is it celebrated?
1) With winter neatly tucked up in the attic, it's time to come out of our cocoons and enjoy this spring festival. It is also time for spring harvest. The new crop refills the stores in every household and perhaps such abundance accounts for the riotous merriment during Holi. This also explains the other names of this celebration - 'Vasant Mahotsava' and 'Kama Mahotsava'. It is celebrated as harvest festival as well as welcome-festival for the spring season in India.
[Src: http://hinduism.about.com/od/holifestivalofcolors/a/holybasics.htm]
2) Considering the religious importance of the festival, it is associated with a number of mythological stories. The most popular amongst them is that of Radha and Lord Krishna, wherein, he playfully applied color on Radha's cheek, as she was fairer than him. This gave rise to the festival of Holi and the tradition of playing with colors.
[Src: http://festivals.iloveindia.com/holi/significance-of-holi.html ]
3) The festival of Holi can be regarded as a celebration of the Colors of Unity & Brotherhood - an opportunity to forget all differences and indulge in unadulterated fun. It has traditionally been celebrated in high spirit without any distinction of cast, creed, color, race, status or sex. It is one occasion when sprinkling colored powder ('gulal') or colored water on each other breaks all barriers of discrimination so that everyone looks the same and universal brotherhood is reaffirmed.
[Src: http://hinduism.about.com/od/holifestivalofcolors/a/celebrateholi.htm ]
More stories on why @ http://hinduism.about.com/od/holifestivalofcolors/a/holybasics_2.htm

When is it celebrated?
Every year it is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March and glorifies good harvest and fertility of the land.

How is it celebrated?
Holi-Day 1 - The day of the full moon (Holi Purnima) is the first day of Holi. A platter ('thali') is arranged with colored powders, and colored water is placed in a small brass pot ('lota'). The eldest male member of the family begins the festivities by sprinkling colors on each member of the family, and the youngsters follow.
Holi-Day 2 - On the second day of the festival called 'Puno', images of Holika are burnt in keeping with the legend of Prahlad and his devotion to lord Vishnu. In rural India, the evening is celebrated by lighting huge bonfires as part of the community celebration when people gather near the fire to fill the air with folk songs and dances. Mothers often carry their babies five times in a clockwise direction around the fire, so that her children are blessed by Agni, the god of fire.
Holi-Day 3 - The most boisterous and the final day of the festival is called 'Parva', when children, youth, men and women visit each other's homes and colored powders called 'aabir' and 'gulal' are thrown into the air and smeared on each other's faces and bodies. 'Pichkaris' and water balloons are filled with colors and spurted onto people - while young people pay their respects to elders by sprinkling some colors on their feet, some powder is also smeared on the faces of the deities, especially Krishna and Radha.
[Src: http://hinduism.about.com/od/holifestivalofcolors/a/holybasics_4.htm]


Significance of the Festival
Cultural Significance - The cultural significance of Holi can be gauged from the fact that its origin derives reference from various mythological tales. This has led to a deep faith and respect towards the celebration of the festival, as Indians strongly believe in mythology. The moral behind all these stories is victory of good over evil, which is a lesson for the human race. The tales instill the faith of man into the ultimate power of God and his mercy over his devotees. Holi festival is the medium through which people are inspired to lead a virtuous life. Moreover, the festival is organized at the time when the harvest is at full bloom, giving people an opportunity to rejoice.

Social Significance - The social significance of Holi is seen in the form of the message of unity and brotherhood, it delivers. As per the custom and tradition, people pay visits to their friends and relatives, to give them wishes as well as to strengthen their bonds. The festival brings the nation together, as it is not just celebrated by Hindus but, also by the Sikhs, Christians, Jains as well. The festival is unique, as it does not discriminate against any section of the society and treats everyone equally. The social fabric and secular character of the society is strengthened, since people work on building cordial relations, forgiving their hard feelings for others.

Biological Significance - Apart from the cultural and social significance of the festival, Holi considerably affects the biological system of our body. The time, at which Holi is celebrated, is very crucial with respect to our body. During the festival, the season is going through a change - from winter to summer. It is the period when people feel lethargic and drowsy. Holi provides them the opportunity to wear off their laziness, by enjoying themselves thoroughly
[Src: http://festivals.iloveindia.com/holi/significance-of-holi.html ]

Additional Readings
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holi
http://festivals.iloveindia.com/holi/
http://hinduism.about.com/od/holifestivalofcolors/a/holybasics.htm

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