From left: Rekha, Padi, Myself and Sapna
Holi is the festival of colour. The colour that the gopis so urge Krishna to hurl on them is symbolic. That color is the color of love. That is the reason why the Gopis urge Krishna to colour them with such a fast color that it cannot be washed despite repeated washing off.
A famous song goes thus:
‘Chhootey na rang aisi rang de chunariya dhobaniya dhoyey chaahey sari umariya Ho man ko rang dega saanvariya Tore kaaran ghar se aayee hoon nikalkey sunaadey zara baansuri Holi aayeere aayeere Holi aayeere’
In a Society where decorum is so much observed with elders and relatives, the above festival allows people to let themselves go, in sheer abandon. People sprinkle ‘gulal’ ( coloured powder) on one another. Enemies become friends once more. HO-LEE means ‘Jo ho liya so ho liya’ which means that ‘allow bygones to be bygones’ .
‘Holi’ comes from the word ‘hola’ which means sacrifice. And the festival is a reminder that we must live our lives in a spirit of service and sacrifice.
Holi heralds the advent of Spring.
Holi commemorates the death of Holika, a demoness, denoting the victory of benign forces over evil ones. The burning of wood and rubbish reminds us of the fact that Holika was consumed by flames.
Sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control, state of affairs do not change, but we could burn out our old hatred and enmity, which burns within us. This coming Monday let us colour ourselves with the colour of Love and Well Wishing.
The Colour of Holi
The day following Holi is Dhuleti. This day is associated with Lord Krishna playing Holi. Songs sung on Holi depict the pranks that Krishna played on the Gopis, and the latter, with Him. In Barsana (Radhaji’s birthplace) Holi is called ‘Lath Maar’ where the womenfolk have a rolicking time using bamboo sticks to keep the menfolk under their control.
A famous song goes thus:
Sham piya mori rang dey chunariya
O Lord Krishna, colour me (With the colors of love).
Aisa rang rang dey mere pyaarey, rang na jaayey saari umariya
Let the color be a fast one, so that it may remain all my life. (I would like my Spirituality to remain steady)
Lal na rangaaoon, hari na rangaaoon, apney hi rang mein rang dey chunariya
I am not looking for a red or green color. Also I do not wish to be colored in the fleeting impermanent colours of the world. Color me in your exclusive one! That of Love, Worship and Faith
During ancient times, cool natural colours were extracted from plants. They were not harmful, but acted as a panacea to irritated spirits, due to the hot climate. Holi is the day to start afresh, putting old enemities aside. ‘Jo ho lee, so ho lee’ What has passed, is the past!
You must have heard: Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery Enjoy the gift of the present. (The present means a gift too)
The day after Holi is called ‘Dhulendi’. ‘Dhool means dust. It reminds us of the fact that, dust we are and to dust we return. Holi heralds the advent of Spring.
One more thought on Holi A little more information that I have gathered on the Holi Festival: Holi is observed a fortnight after Mahashivratri I have already told you in my earlier messages what Holi means: Jo ho li so Ho li, which means allow Bygones to be bygones. The new piece of information that I am about to share with you, is that dry sticks and cow dung is put into the Holika bonfire. Corn seeds are burnt, until they lose their power to germinate. To me, the above would mean that, one is not to allow old ‘old seeds of dissent to take birth again’ But to bury the hatchet once and for all. I was informed by a friend yesterday, that the burnt corn seeds are taken home, and shown to the parents, and blessings taken from them. Maybe it is to say: ‘See mom and dad! I have learned to forgive, forget and move on…’
I have read that on Chaharshanbeh (Its date is close to Holi and celebrates the advent of warmer days after the bitter winter) Iranians jump over a fire to symbolize the burning up of past evil.
Origins of Holi
The following story about the origins of Holi appears in the Mahabharata, thereby proving that the festival of Holi was celebrated before that era. During the rule of Raghu, an illustrious ancestor of Rama, there was an evil female demon called Dhodhi. She had a boon that she could not be killed. However she feared children playing in the streets.
So one day, under the advice of Guru Vashishta, children picked up small pieces of wood, put them together with dry grass, burnt the heap and went round it while beating drums and clapping hands.As Guru Vashishta had revealed the above ritual was successful in eliminating the demonness.
The above story is narrated by Krishna to Yudhishtra who was curious to know about the origin of Holi.
Prahlad and Holika
Prahlad was the son of King Hiranyakashyap.
Hiranyakashyap had no belief in God, in fact he believed himself to be all powerful, superior to the Almighty, and persecuted all those who engaged in spiritual activities.
Young Prahlad has immense faith in Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashyap tries to persuade his son to pray to him (his father) instead of to Lord Vishnu. When Prahlad refuses, the king resorts to ruthless methods, to bring his son Prahlad to his knees.
When all methods failed, the king asked his sister Holika to help him.
Holika was blessed by Brahma and owned a blanket that could not be consumed by fire.
Holika covered herself with the blanket, took Prahlad on her lap and sat in a bonfire.
For misusing the boon given to her by Brahma, the blanket flew and covered Prahlad. Thus Holika was burnt to ashes while Prahlad was saved.
Lord Vishnu emerged from a pillar as half-man, half-lion and killed Hiranyakashyap.
Since then, people have been playing with colours as they rejoice over the death of the evil king, the coronation of Prahlad and the triumph of good over evil.
Strange Customs connected with Holi
1) Bhagoria: In this practice the boy grabs the girl’s hand, feeds her a paan. If she accepts, he elopes with her. The parents rejoice as it means marriage.
The above custom is prevalent in: Dhar, Jhabua, Khandwa and Badwani districts of Madhya Pradesh.
2) A lad blackens his face, and sits on a donkey with his back to the road ahead. He collects money to buy grains to feed birds.
The above custom is prevalent in Borvav village of Junaagad district.
3) Well padded men are given a beating with sticks. The latter are not allowed to retaliate.
The above custom is prevalent in Radhaji’s village Barsaana. The youth come from Krishnaji’s village, Nandgaon near Mathura.
March 21st The Vernal Equinox
The following information is from Arash Vafa Fazil
The sun crosses over the equator on March 20 or 21 every year when day and night are approximately equal in length.
This is the spring or vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. It marks the onset of spring…heralds the season of growth, renewal, regeneration…harvest, sowing seeds…
…The vernal equinox has become a potent religious and cultural symbol representing the triumph of good over evil…According to the Bahaais it can be symbolically compared to the appearance of the manifestations or Avataars of God at various points in history. Just as the rising of the physical Sun at the Equinox causes the rejuvenation of terrestrial life, the appearance of these Spiritual Suns on Earth similarly regenerates the spiritual nature of man.