Friday, March 6, 2015

The story of Holi ~ Festival of Colours

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Holi is an ancient festival celebrated in India since generations. Also called the festival of colours, Holi is celebrated on the full-moon (purnima) day in March or Phalgun season. After Holi, the winter ends and the spring season starts. So this festival also marks the starting of Spring.


image source: www.worldfestivaldirectory.com

People rejoice by making tasty delicacies, playing with colours with their loved ones and there is a general atmosphere of merriment all around. "Holika Dahan" is also an important part of the Holi festival in which people pray for happiness and the general well-being of their family by lighting a bonfire. This bonfire also signifies the win of good over evil.

image source: www.totalbhakti.com
The story behind the ritual of "Holika Dahan" is that there once lived a King named Hiranyakashyap who was very powerful and ruled the earth. Apart from being very powerful, he was also egoistic and thought himself to be God. People feared him and in fear gave him the standing of God which made him happy. But his only son, Prahlad refused to give his father the same standing as God. Angered by his refusal and even more angered by his utter devotion to Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashyap decided to kill him to show him that Lord Vishnu had no power in his kingdom and so could not save him but Prahlad stayed confident that he would be saved by God Vishnu and that nothing could kill him while he remained faithful to his God.

Hiranyakashyap tried to kill him in many ways. He tried to drown him but could not. Then he made him enter in a vessel full of hot oil but yet again, Prahlad remained unscathed even after entering the scalding hot oil vessel. Finally, he sought his sister Holika who had the boon of never getting burnt from Lord Brahma and so could not die from fire. Holika sat down with Prahlad in her lap and asked her brother to light her up, hoping to end Prahlad with fire but when the fire was lit, it burned and killed Holika instead of Prahlad who remained safe.


image source: www.drikpanchang.com
This was the ultimate proof of Prahlad's devotion and the power of his goodness against Holika's evil and arrogance. Even the boon could not save her. This defeat of evil is re-enacted each year and people celebrate the power of good over evil.

In some parts, the bonfire also signifies the worship of Fire itself where the new harvest is offered to the fire and blessings for a good and prosperous year ahead is seeked.

The common delicacies made during this festival season include Gujiya, thandai, bhang, dahi bhalle and malpua. All kinds of food is prepared on this day to celebrate and rejoice with friends and family.
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image source: festoworld.com

Today is Holi and I hope you are having a great time with your family and friends. 

Njkinny's World of Books & Stuff wishes you a very Happy Holi...Have fun and enjoy! :)

image source: www.holicelebration.in

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