Holi (होली) is a Hindu spring festival in India and Nepal, also known as the Holi festival of colours or the festival of sharing love. Holi is celebrated in the month of Phalgun (February-March). Also, called Phagwah, it is the full moon day in Phalgun that ushers in the spring season in India. It is also a celebration of the harvest season.
‘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 festival is a Hindu festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. The festival is celebrated over the course of several days, usually in the second week of March. Holi festival is one of the most popular Hindu festivals, and it’s celebrated by people both young and old. From lighting the Holika bonfire, to playing colors, to visiting with friends and family, Holi is a wonderful celebration to bring the community together and celebrate the triumph of good over evil.
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Story of Holika – Holi Festival
The Holi festival gets its name from the Puranic story of Holika. Holika was the sister the demon-king Hiranyakashipu. The king, egoistic as he was, desired that everybody in his kingdom worship him alone. Much to his ire, he found that his son, Prahlada, was a worshipper of Lord Vishnu. It was then that Hiranyakashipu decided to kill Prahlada in connivance with his sister. Holika had been granted a boon that gave her the power to remain unaffected by fire. To lure Prahlada into a fire, Holika sat him on her lap and pretended to play with him while Hiranyakashipu ordered his men to set the place where they sat on fire. It was then that Holika’s boon failed her. In her sinister venture to kill the Lord’s devotee, Holika was burned to ashes while Prahlada came out unscathed.
Holi – Raasleela
Another reason why Holi festival is significant is its association with Raasleela, the Divine Dance that Lord Krishna performed for the gopis , his devotees in Vrindavan on this day.
Holi – Festival Celebration
Holika bonfire, Collect and stack the wood. Traditionally, 40 days before the Holi celebration, there would be a log placed in the centre of town to signify it was time to collect wood for the Holika bonfire. Everyone placed any wood or flammable scrap materials they had on top of the log, and they’d end up with a large pile of wood ready to burn. Gather enough wood and combustible material to create a medium to large sized pile for your Holika bonfire,
Place the statue of Holika on the wood. On the eve of Holi, place a combustible statue of Holika.
Light the bonfire. Use a fire starter like kerosene to pour a little on the wood to help get the fire going. While you watch the bonfire, chant the Rakshoghna Mantras. These mantras are found in the Rig Veda, an ancient Indian collection of the Vedic Sanskrit hymns. Enjoy the fire by dancing around it and chanting the mantras to ward off evil spirits.
Holi – Playing with Colors
The day of the Holi celebration, people celebrate the end of winter and the coming of spring by showering each other with bright colored powder and water. You can buy gulal, which is a natural red-orange color made from the flowers of palash. The flowers are dried and ground to create a powdered color. You can also buy abeer, which is small crystal chips of mica that create a sparkly silver color. People frequently combine the two to create a fun red-orange sparkly colored powder.
Holi – Traditional & Testy Indian Food
A great way to celebrate Holi is with delicious traditional Indian meals. There are many different traditional meals for Holi depending on what region you are in, but here are some popular foods and drinks you can try.
One Holi staple is Thandai, a traditional creamy milk drink flavored with nuts and spices, it often has some herbs that might make you feel dizzy. You may drink it after you’ve enjoyed together.
Puran Poli is a popular sweet dish typically eaten in Maharashtra. It is a sweet flatbread with a buttery taste and a stuffing of lentils and spices.
Dahi Wada is a tasty snack food made from lentil fritters soaked in Indian yogurt.
Holi – The Festival of Color and Togetherness
Visiting friends and family, At the end of the evening when the celebration of the colors has subdued, many people like to visit friends or family to enjoy the evening. Holi is a celebration meant to bring together the community so it culminates with coming together and relishing in the day’s festivities.
Holi – Celebrating the victory of Good over Evil
Holi symbolises victory of our higher aspirations over our lower, base desires. It is the burning of our petty, material desires at the altar of our goal of self-development. It stands for the victory of good over evil, a theme that runs through every Indian festival. For it is impossible that those who live their lives by truth will ever be overcome by the corrupt.
Another important aspect of Holi festival is its joy and fun. Contrary to common perception, spirituality is about enjoying life to its fullest. The spiritual life is not about giving up our possessions but discovering higher, permanent joys. It is a path filled with serendipity and moments of sheer joy reflected in the life of Lord Krishna.
Thus, the spirituality that Vedanta speaks is of isn’t meant only for ascetics in the Himalayas. It is a philosophy that is meant for men and women of the action. It is a vibrant, living knowledge that enables us to make life a celebration. So on Holi, we must remember to bring the color into our lives by living the principles of Vedanta.
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