Festivals in India have lots of significance and mythological connections. These joyous occasions are celebrated with happiness and devotion. People just wait for these special moments of the year and enjoy them to the fullest. Since these gala holidays come once in a year, they soak themselves completely so that they can feel the intensity and hangover till the next year. Though each festival has its own charm, one of the most awaited festivals in India is Holi.
Holi is a flashy festival played and enjoyed with soft eco-friendly hue powders known as 'Gulaal' or 'Abeer.' It comes in spring and is mostly held at the end of February or the beginning of March. This is the time when winter is bidding adieu and summer is appearing. It is a Hindu festival but equally celebrated by the entire communities in India. It is the time when foes put aside their differences and hug each other and make their relationships strong.
Holi is symbolic festival and serves a great example of national unity. It binds all the communities together. The entire region of the country dons a new look during this festive time. Whether it is a village or a city, roads, and alleys bathe in hues. Even the air at this jubilant moment is hued. There is a sense of happiness and the entire day is lively and noisy. People come out of their house and gather on the streets and smear each other with hue powders. They greet with 'Happy Holi'. They also squirt colored water from a plastic hand pump called pitchkari.
Mythological Importance of Holi:
According to the religious belief, Hiranyankashayap was the demon king who meditated for years in order to invoke Lord Brahma. When Lord Brahma appears in front of him, he asks Him to bestow a boon that no human being or an animal can kill on land, in the air, or in the water, inside or outside four walls of the house with any weapon, or cult. Blessed with the gift to remain invincible and immortal, he starts considering himself as the God. He commands people to worship him instead of God. He creates havoc on earth and the heaven and kills all those who didn't accept his wish.
Feared with his atrocities, people start worshipping him. However, his own son, Prahlada didn't give it up and continued worshiping Lord Vishnu. Enraged with his son's devotion and audacity, he decides to kill him.
He calls in his sister, Holika, who is blessed by the Agni God (God of Fire) that she will receive no harm from any sort of fire. On the decided day, woods are heaped on top of each other to make a huge pyre. Hiranyankashayap then challenges his son to sit on the pyre with Hollika if he believes that Lord Vishnu is more powerful and will save him from the fire. When the pyre is put on fire, to his surprise, Hollika starts feeling the heat and within no time turns into ashes. Prahalda, on the other hand, comes out of the pyre unharmed. Since then, the death of Hollika on the burning pyre is celebrated as Holi which is to commemorate the victory of good over evil.
A day before Holi on the full moon day, Hindus lit bonfires to thank the fire god for killing the demoness and saving Prahalda. People celebrate the victory by singing and dancing around the bonfire. They call priests to perform the rituals and mark the beginning of the festival. Since it is also the marking of the harvest, people offer grains to the fire god. The bonfires serve as a reminder to people who no matter how strong the evil may be, but in the end it burns into ashes.
The next day, which is the day to play with Gulall starts from the morning itself. After a bath and offering prayer to the deity in their homes, people dress in white Kurta and pajamas and get ready to enjoy the festival. Women are busy preparing delicious meals on that day. In the north, the dish of the day is gujia which is a made of corn flour. Coconuts are pulverized and stuffed in the flour paste along with sugar powder, and make it palm size. It is then fried in oil until it turns brown. People in Maharashtra cook Puran Poli which is a roti made of wheat flour and in which jaggery is crushed to make a thin paste and stuffed into it. A special drink is also made on that day which Indians call it Bhang. A special kind of plant is powdered and mixed into milk for drinks. This drink is usually intoxicating and is taken in limits since high intake spoils the excitement of celebrating Holi.
Holi is celebrated throughout India. However, Holi is celebrated in the north of India is famous especially in Mathura where Lord Krishna was born, Vrindavan and Nandgaon. People enjoy it with great devotion in fact many foreigners visit India just to enjoy and feel the intensity of this colourful festival. The 'Lathmaar Holi' which is organized in Barshana and Nandgaon is the special attraction and people of all nationality love to watch it.
India is safe heaven where people regardless of their traditions and practices dwell in harmony. The festival of Holi just enhances the spirit of brotherhood among citizens and bring all the colours of love and friendship.
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