Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Holi Festival in India

Festivals in India are an integral part of people's life. Festivals of India portray the rich cultural heritage of the country. Holi is one of the Major festivel of India. Holi has different aspects to its celebration. Like it is a celebration of good over evil, a carnival of colors, a community festival, a secular festival and a tradition of ancient spring rites.

As the festival of Holi comes it brings with it the colors of life and colors of love. We all celebrate holi with full of enthusiasm. It is the time to play with colors. It is the time for fun and feasting. It's the time to enjoy some delicious delicacies to bright up the festive mood. As we cannot think of any Indian festival without food. Gujhia is one of the most popular desserts of Holi. It is a must for every North Indian home during the festival of Holi. There are 'papris' and 'dahi vade' to add to the lists. There intoxicating 'bhang-ke-vade' but it should be taken in small quantities.

When does we celebrate Holi? The festival of Holi is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. In India the Spring Festival is called Holi the festival of colors. Celebrated in March or April according to the Hindu calendar. The festival mainly started to welcome the Spring season and win the blessings of Gods for good harvests and fertility of the land. As with all the Hindu festivals, there are many interesting legends attached to Holi.

Let we take a brief overview of History of Holi

History of Holi: Originally Holi is a Spring festival. It is celebrated for good harvests and fertility of the land. There are many legends and history associated with the originof this spring festival. The most popular among these legends is the one about the story of Prahlad, the son of the evil King Hiranyakasipu and the devotee of lord Vishnu. He tried hard to kill him but every time Lord Vishnu saved him. One of the sisters of the king named Holika had a boon to remain unscathed by fire, so she followed her brother's wishes. However, with this sinful act against Lord Narayana's devotee, Holika's boon ended and she was burnt to ashes, while Prahlad came out safe. From that day onwards Holi is celebrated as the festival of the victory of good over evil. Even today, bonfires are lit on the night before Holi in memory of the event and burning of the evil Holika. It symbolizes the victory of Good over evil. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.

Holi also celebrates colors. It is called the festival of colors. Lord Krishna and Radha is associated with the celebration of colors. It is the immortal love of Krishna and Radha, which is associated with the celebration of colors in Holi. Holi is also called Vasant Utsav or the festival of spring. The day after burning the Holika people put the ashes from the fire as Vibhuti on their forehead often mixed with Chandan paste (Sandalwood paste). Around the same time of the year as Holi, Catholics also celebrate ash ceremony called, Ash Wednesday. It is believed that on the day Holika was burnt Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Kaamdev (the God of Love) to ashes because once Kaamdev in his foolish pride aimed his love arrow at Lord Shiv who was in deep meditation. Sensing his presence Lord Shiv opened his third eye and burnt Kaamdev to ashes. Rati, Kaamdev's wife, beseeched Lord Shiv to take pity on her and restore her husband to life. Shiv relented and granted her the boon that she could see her husband but he would remain without a physical form. Hence, the songs sung during Holi tell the tale of Rati and her lamentations. These are the few legends, which tells us the origin of Holi festival and its celebration.

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