Tomorrow 8th march is Holi. one of my favourite festivals amongst the huge platter of festivals we Indian’s celebrate.adding more colours in this colourful world, spreading happiness and warmth through music,dance, the play and hugs.
Usually it all starts very civilised applying a tikka on each others forehead and touching feet of elders but 15 minutes in and the wild human inside comes out and what fun this festival becomes( of course there are people who celebrate it the wrong way, but this post is going to focus on the positive vibrant festival that is Holi.)
Today I am going to tell you the story behind this beautiful festival of colours which celebrates spring and faith.
Holi starts with Holika Dahan, which is a kind of bonfire in memory of Prahlad.
Prahlad’s father Hiranyakashipu was the great king of demons, and he had been granted a boon by Brahma, which made it almost impossible for him to be killed. He had demanded that he not be killed
“during day or night;
inside the home or outside,
not on earth or in the sky;
neither by a man nor an animal;
neither by Astra nor by Shastra”.
Consequently, he grew arrogant and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping Gods and start praising him.But his own son Prahlad who was a devotee of lord Vishnu refused to worship his father and continued offering prayers to lord Vishnu.
In spite of several threats from Hiranyakashipu, Prahlad continued offering prayers to Lord Vishnu. He was poisoned by Hiranyakashipu, but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was ordered to be trampled by elephants,put him in a room with hungry, poisonous snakes but all of Hiranyakashipu’s attempts to kill his son failed. Finally, he ordered young Prahlad to sit on a pyre on the lap of his demoness sister, Holika, who could not die because she also had a boon, which would prevent fire from burning her. Prahlada readily accepted his father’s orders, and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while Prahlada survived unharmed, the burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.
Later Lord Vishnu came in the form of a Narsimha ( half-man and half-lion)
and killed Hiranyakashipu at dusk (neither day nor night)
on the steps of the porch of his house (neither inside the house nor outside)
by restraining him on his lap (neither in the sky nor on the earth)
and mauling him with his claws (neither Astra nor shastra)
Barsana( in Uttar pradesh,India) is a place to be if you really want to see some wild action,it is unique in the sense that here women chase men away with sticks.The women of Barsana start preparing a month in advance. The mother-in-laws feed their daughters-in-law rich food so that they show off their prowess on the Holi battle zone. Men sing provocative songs in a bid to invite the attention of women. Women then go on the offensive and use long stave’s called lathis to beat men folk who protect themselves with shields. OUCH!!
Hope you have enjoyed this story and those who will celebrate this festival tomorrow please play a safe Holi,be kind to your skin use natural colours and remember festivals should leave you happy not hurt.