Updated: Mar 6
Holi is a Hindu festival that is celebrated with great joy and enthusiasm all over India and in many other parts of the world. The festival is celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna, which usually falls in late February or early March.
The importance of Holi lies in its cultural and spiritual significance. Here are some of the reasons why Holi is an important festival:
· Celebrating the arrival of spring: Holi is primarily a festival of spring, which symbolizes renewal and rejuvenation. After a long winter, Holi marks the beginning of the new season, and people celebrate this by splashing each other with colorful powders and water.
· Holi is an important festival for farmers in India because it marks the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring. In agricultural communities, this transition is a critical time for farmers as they prepare for the upcoming planting season. Traditionally, Holi is celebrated by farmers as a way to express gratitude to the gods for a bountiful harvest and to seek their blessings for a prosperous growing season ahead. The festival is also an opportunity for farmers to take a break from their strenuous work and celebrate with their families and communities.
· Promoting unity and harmony: Holi is a time when people come together and celebrate with friends and family, regardless of their caste, creed, or social status. The festival promotes the spirit of unity and harmony, and helps to bridge social and cultural divides.
· Commemorating Hindu mythology: Holi is associated with many legends from Hindu mythology, such as the story of Prahlad and Holika, and the love story of Radha and Krishna. The festival provides an opportunity for people to learn about and reflect on these stories.
Signifying the triumph of good over evil: Holi is also a celebration of the victory of good over evil. It marks the defeat of the demon king Hiranyakashipu by Lord Vishnu, and the burning of the demoness Holika. This symbolizes the victory of righteousness over evil and ignorance.
Encouraging forgiveness and letting go of grudges: Holi is a time to let go of past grudges and conflicts and start anew. People exchange sweets and embrace each other, signifying the importance of forgiveness and letting go of anger and bitterness.
· In some parts of India, including Rajasthan, there is a playful tradition during Holi called "Lathmar Holi" where women playfully hit men with sticks (known as "lathis"). This tradition is especially popular in the town of Barsana, located in Uttar Pradesh, but is also observed in some parts of Rajasthan. According to the legend, Lord Krishna visited Barsana (where his beloved Radha lived) during Holi and playfully teased the women, who responded by playfully hitting him with sticks. The tradition has since evolved into a playful exchange between men and women during Holi. It's important to note that this tradition is meant to be playful and is not meant to cause harm or injury. It's a way for people to let loose, have fun, and celebrate the festival of colors.
According to Hindu mythology, Holika Dahan commemorates the victory of good over evil. The story behind the festival is that there was a demon king named Hiranyakashipu who had become invincible through a boon from Lord Brahma. He had become so powerful that he started to challenge the gods themselves. However, his own son, Prahlad, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and refused to worship his father as a god.
Angered by his son's disobedience, Hiranyakashipu plotted to kill him. He asked his sister, Holika, who had a special power to resist fire, to sit with Prahlad on her lap in a blazing fire. Holika was confident that she would be unharmed, but Prahlad's devotion to Lord Vishnu protected him and Holika was burned to death.
The spiritual significance of Holika Dahan is that it represents the triumph of good over evil, and the power of devotion and faith. It is a reminder to people that no matter how powerful evil may seem, it can always be defeated by the power of righteousness and faith.
The bonfire itself is a symbol of purification and the burning of negativity. It is believed that by burning the bonfire, people can rid themselves of negative energy and start afresh with positive energy and renewed enthusiasm. The festival also marks the onset of spring, which is a time of renewal and new beginnings.
How can children participate?
· The infants: Up to two-year-old kids can be present with their parents during the puja.
· Early childhood: children between 2 to 6 years can be told stories related to Holi.
· Middle childhood: 6 to 11 years children can help in gathering wood and creating the decoratives. The mentors can create sessions for these children to introspect and focus on the positivity.
· The adolescence children: Adolescent children can understand the origin and reason of Holi, providing a great opportunity for introspection and analysis of negative traits that can be symbolically burnt during the festival. Parents, teachers, and other mentors can facilitate workshops to empower children and provide value education.
And last and most important, children always imitate their parents and elder. So to train our children, first we have to imbibe these qualities and behaviour within us.
Overall, Holika Dahan is a festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil, and the power of faith and devotion. It is a time for people to come together, celebrate, and renew their spirits. It is a great time to raise our energies, vibrations and frequency.
This shloka or verse number 7 from the Bhagavad Gita chapter 4, that is often recited during the celebration of Holi:
यदा यदा हि धर्मस्य ग्लानिर्भवति भारत | अभ्युत्थानमधर्मस्य तदात्मानं सृजाम्यहम् ||
yada yada hi dharmasya glanir bhavati bharata
abhyutthanam adharmasya tadatmanam srjamy aham
This shloka means: "Whenever and wherever there is a decline in righteousness and a rise in unrighteousness, O Arjuna, at that time I manifest myself on earth."
This verse emphasizes the importance of upholding righteousness and opposing unrighteousness, and is often invoked during Holi to inspire individuals to lead a life of virtue and integrity. Additionally, there are several hymns and songs that are specific to the celebration of Holi and are commonly sung during the festival.
As we celebrate the festival of Holi, we offer our prayers.
सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः सर्वे सन्तु निरमाया:
- Manjushree Rathi
Director, ME Holistic Centre