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HOLI

The Festival of Colors

Holi

Holi is a Hindu festival of colors and joys which is celebrate on the full moon day in the month of Falgun that corresponds to the month of March as per the Gregorian Calendar. It also signifies the farewell to winter season and greeting the spring season apart from different myths or legendary stories associated to the origin of the festival. Undoubtedly, the default value of almost every Hindu festival i.e.victory of good over evil” also applies to this festival. In fact, Holi is the expression of exuberance of the Hindu culture which can be achieved if human learn to enjoy the present cutting off the connectivity to the past. Basically, this festival is widely celebrated by Hindus living in south Asian countries. Non-South Asian Hindu people living around the globe also celebrate this festival. Its public holiday in Nepal on this festival.

Legend :

Story 1:

According to one of the Hindu texts called “Bhagavata Purana”, there was a king called Hiranyakashyapu in the certain region of present India who acted like demon in character. He wante to take the revenge of the death of his brother who was killed by Lord Vishnu. He meditates and recites the name of god Brahma for years. God Brahman became impressed by his penance and granted him with a boon that is almost close to immortality as he demanded but condition was applied. Then, he became very powerful. He started to misuse his power by compelling other people to worship him like a god. Not only that, he was even terrorizing some divine personalities residing in the heaven. But, his own young son called Prahlad was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and never consider his father as a god. The merciless king decided to kill his own son for not obeying him as a god.

The king Hiranyakashyapu had a sister called Holika who was booned with the power that she was immune to fire but conditioned was applied. The King Hiranyakashyapu asked his sister Holika to sit on the pyre of fire with his son Prahlad on her lap. Their plan was to burn down Prahlad into ashes but instead ogress Holika was burned down into ashes where as Prahlad was safe as he as reciting the name of his lord Vishu throughout the time. Holika did forget that his boon will be functional if she goes to the fire alone. The death of Holika signifies the burning down of evil thus reviving and restoring the Truth. Hence, in relation to this event, Hindu people from the state of Bihar, people living in plain belt of Nepal called Terai and in Kathmandu lit a bonfire to remember the end of evil. This story much popular in Northern states of India (likes of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan,etc) and Nepal.

Story 2:

According to “Krishna Leela” based on the Hindu epic called Mahabharat, Lord Krishna was dark-skinned where as Radha had fair skin complexion. Krishna complained to his mother Yasodha about injustice done by the nature which made Radha so fair and him so dark. Krishna started to cry. Yasodha gave an idea to Krishna to apply colours on Radha’s face with whichever colours he like. The mischievous and naughty Krishna smeared the face of Radha with colours and turning her like himself. She also enjoyed it as she liked him very much. Then, that become a play and krishna started to play flute to impress Radha.

Some other sources had written that when Krishna moved to Vrindavan from Gokuland became immensely popular among locals and Ladies over there. It was at the time of holi on full moon day and everything was in full bloomed due to spring season, village boys and girls gathered on the banks of river Yamuna and started to play and having fun throwing water and sand at each other. After some time, the play broke into a dance. They danced and danced because they were in such an exuberant and joyful state. When Krishna saw this, he took out his flute and started to play. His music was so enchanting that everyone gathered around him and again swayed, for almost half the night.

So, these stories suggest that the act of playing Holi with colors and water started from the Krishna. So people also devote holy to appreciate the Krishna Leela between Krishna and Radha thus celebrating Holi as the festival of love and color.

This story is popular in east and west of India (likes of West Bengal, Tripura etc. and Gujarat) for celebrating Holi.

Story 3 :

According to “Krishna Leela” based on the Hindu epic called Mahabharat, Lord Krishna was dark-skinned where as Radha had fair skin complexion. Krishna complained to his mother Yasodha about injustice done by the nature which made Radha so fair and him so dark. Krishna started to cry. Yasodha gave an idea to Krishna to apply colours on Radha’s face with whichever colours he like. The mischievous and naughty Krishna smeared the face of Radha with colours and turning her like himself. She also enjoyed it as she liked him very much. Then, that become a play and krishna started to play flute to impress Radha.

Some other sources had written that when Krishna moved to Vrindavan from Gokuland became immensely popular among locals and Ladies over there. It was at the time of holi on full moon day and everything was in full bloomed due to spring season, village boys and girls gathered on the banks of river Yamuna and started to play and having fun throwing water and sand at each other. After some time, the play broke into a dance. They danced and danced because they were in such an exuberant and joyful state. When Krishna saw this, he took out his flute and started to play. His music was so enchanting that everyone gathered around him and again swayed, for almost half the night.

So, these stories suggest that the act of playing holi with colours and water staryed from the Krishna. So people also devote holy to appreciate the Krishna Leela between Krishna and Radha thus celebrating holi as the festival of love and colour.

This story is popular in east and west of India (likes of West Bnegal, Tripura etc. and Gujrat) for celebrating holi.

Story 4:

According to Shiva Purana, Sati was married to Shiva against the will of her father Daksha. So King Daksha had briken up realtionship with her daughter for that reason. One day, King organized a grand Yagya (a sacrificial ritual done infront of a sacred fire) inviting many royal personalities but Sati and Shiva were not invited. The uninvited Sati went to the Yagya rituel, Daksha started to insult her and her husband Shiva, particularly for their marital status against his will. Sati cursed her father and immolate herself into the grand Yagya ritual being unable to resist the humilation. Infact, so intense was her love, loyalty and passion for her husband, that she could not tolerate to live on when he was being belittled by her own father.

Shiva vandalized every around the palace of Daksha upon knowing what happened to his wife. Shiva then decidec to stay away from worldly affairs and went into deep meditation. As time passes on, Sati was reborned as Parvati in the kingdom of Himalaya. She was great devotee of Shiva and devoted her life serving to Shiva but Shiva was oblivious to her. In the mean time, all other deities were worried as the balance of the world was swaying precariously as Shiva was so numb after the incidence happened to Sati. So the solution was union between Shiva and Parvati.

It was then that Indra ordered his friend, Kamdev, the God of love and passion, to help her win over Shiva. Despite knowing the extent of Shiva’s anger, Kamdev still decided to take the risk and created an illusion of spring so strong that all living creatures were affected by it. Then he shot a love arrow at Shiva’s heart with the intention of making him fall in love with Parvati. Shiva did awaken, but it was his third eye that looked at Kamdev and burnt him to ashes with his anger. Later, of course, he realized his mistake and on Parvati’s insistence, gave Kamdev immortality in the invisible form. Many consider this a huge sacrifice by Kamdev and burn a bonfire a day before Holi.

to commemorate his incineration at Shiva’s hands. People offer the cooling paste of sandalwood to Kamdev on Holi to reduce the sting from his burns.

This version of story is mostly popular in. the south Indian states of India (likes of Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala, Andar Pradesh and Karnataka) except in the city of Hampi, Karnataka. In south India Holi is referred to as Madan Mahotsav or Kama Mahotsav. Kamdev is very popular in South India and the festival of Holi is dedicated to the God of love. The people celebrated the day by singing songs which tell the story of Kamadev and his wife Rati.

Colourfull Powder used in Holi and its significance :

Historically, colourfull powders called Gulal or Abhir were made from the flowers of Tesu or Palash tree (Scientific name:- Butea monosperma) commonly found in tropical and subtropical climatic zone in Indian Subcontinent and South-East countries but nowadays synthetic harsh colours made from chemicals are used which are allergetic to skin.

The 4 main colour powder used in holi represents following things:-

1. Red:- Love and Fertility

2. Blue:- Inclusiveness and Vastness

3. Yellow:- Colour of Termeric

4. Green:- Spring and Rejuvenating

Celebrating Holiday In Nepal

Nepal is rich in its cultural and liguistic diversity. So the way of celebrating holi is different among different ethnic groups and people living in different topographic region. Holi in plain belt of Nepal is celebrated 1 day after it is celebrated in Hilly region specially in Kathmandu Valley.

In hilly region particularly in valleys, people play holi by smearing Abhir(colourfull power) on one another face and pouring water on one another. To these modern days, people enjoy holi by hitting Lola (a ballon or small plastic bag filled with water) to one another and the practise of using the syntheic colour power instead of natural Abhir has increased causing skin allergy. People also use Pichkari (water gun) to play with water.

People make a small group and roam around the street singing songs basically related to holi, dancing and throwing Abhir and water to each other. Group of people staying on the rooftop of the houses greet the revellers by throwing water either in terms of Lola or using plastic water mug or water guns.

Madheshi people fromTerai belt follow the legendary story of Prahlad and Holika for the cause of celebrating holi festival , they spell the festival as Fagu Purnima . However, about the use of colour, they would like give more credit to the legendary story of Ramayan to celebrate the returning home of victorious Ram after defeating King Rawan of kingdom of Lanka, by showering colours. Madhesi people prefer to put Tika of Abhir on forehead and leg only and play with coloured water. They sing songs on Maithali language praising the great devote of Bishnu Prahlad, Lord Ram and his wife godesse Sita, Lord Bishu and other deities.

Among Newars, this festival is known by the name Holi Puni. There is a tradition of erecting a Lingo (Bambo Stick) covered with pieces of different colurs clothes called “Chir” Basantapur Durbar Sqaure, Kathamandu. The Lingo is taken down and Chir is burnt in the eve of Holi which is called Chir Haran or Holika Dahan.

But in the ancient town of Bhaktapur, there is a compeltely unique way to celebrate the Holi festival. This festival starts with the installation of a pole symbolising the phallus of the Hindu God Bhimsen (One of Five brothers called Five Pandava and god of trade and commerce) in Bhimsen Temple in Dattatraye Square which is about 3 ft long and 30 inches in diameter and cut in the shape of a human phallus. The wooden pole symbolising the phallus of deity Bhimsen is ritualistically inserted into a hole cut on a big red sheet of cloth signifying the genitalia of Draupadi. Draupadi is the wife of the five Pandava brothers in the Hindu epic called Mahabharata. The people known as ‘jayaju’ of the Bhimsen Guthi, a religious trust, sing a Newari hymn with sexual connotation which takes place here every day in the morning, till the full moon in the month of Falgun, as per the lunar calendar. Devotees thronged to pay obeisance to this wooden pole. The wooden phallus is also taken around streets of Inacho, Bachutol, Jenla, Jagati, Brahmayani and Chyamasingh. Devotees worship this wooden pole and make offerings as it is taken around in a procession to each house and shop along the route.

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