“Colours are the smiles of nature” articulates James Henry Leigh Hunt, a 19th century English poet about the beauty of colours. “Har rang kuch kehta hai” (every colour conveys something) is a famous slogan of one of the largest paint companies in Asia. Truly, our lives would be so dreary without the wondrous diversity of warm and cool colours!
May be it is for this reason that we have a celebration surrounding just colours, Holi, the festival of colours! It is celebrated on Purnima (full moon day) of the Phalgun month of the . It is celebrated both as a one-day festival and also as an elaborate festival in several parts of India. The famous legends surrounding Holi can be better understood through the observance of Holika Dahan, Rangwali Holi and Rang Panchami.
Holika Dahan: Also known as Jalanewali Holi or Choti Holi. The eve of Holi is celebrated by burning the effigy of , the younger sister of the demon king, who was burnt to death in her attempt of killing her nephew, Prahlad who was a devotee of .
Instructions for Holika Dahan ritual:
• Use combustible wood, grains, seeds and flowers for the bonfire.
• Avoid the usage of plastic and other non-combustible things.
• Follow the right muhurta for Holika Dahan.
Holika Dahan Muhurta on 16 March 2014: 6:26 PM to 8:51 PM (Duration: 2 hours 25 mins)
Rangwali Holi: Also known as Dhulandi or Dhulendi, is the day when Holi is celebrated with colours, sweets and get together with family and friends.
Rang Panchami: In Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and a certain other North Indian states, Holi is celebrated with rang (colours) on panchami (fifth day) after the Phalgun Purnima. Thus, the celebration acquires the name of Rang Panchami. In these places, Holika Dahan is also celebrated on the same day followed by playing with colours. Apart from these, a few other famous celebrations connected with Holi are:
• in Mathura and Vrindavan, where women playfully hit men with sticks.
• The milkmen in Orissa carry the palanquin of (Lord Krishna) on their shoulders, apply colours (powder) on the deity and offer special sweet delicacies to the deity.
• People of Tamilnadu observe Kama Dahanam or Kaman Pandigai by worshipping commemorating his sacrifice (he was reduced to ashes for disturbing Lord Shiva's meditation) in uniting Lord Shiva and goddess Parvati.
• In West Bengal, Holi is celebrated as Dol Yatra or Swing festival, wherein the deities of Radha and Krishna are decorated and are respectfully taken on the streets on a flower-bedecked palanquin. Devotees swing the deities and sing devotional songs.
• In Gujarat, human pyramids are formed to break the pot of buttermilk symbolizing Lord Krishna's pastime of stealing the butter from the neighbourhood.
Appropriate way to observe Holi:
• Take an early morning bath and worship your presiding deity at home.
• Offer obeisances to elders at home and seek their blessings.
• Prepare sweet dishes like Gujia, Malpua, Laddoo and offer to God.
• Distribute the sweets amongst your near and dear.
• Colours are known to be very therapeutic! Use natural colours made out of , , , , , dried flowers like etc., through which you can reap various health benefits too in addition to having fun.
• Holi is all about the victory of good over evil and about having a forgiving heart that rejoices and spreads love. Therefore, on this auspicious day, release negative patterns, get over bad habits, let go misunderstandings and disturbances in your relationships and make a new beginning.
A word of caution:
• Apply coconut oil on your skin and hair before playing Holi to prohibit the direct contact of colours with your body.
• Avoid using artificial colours as they may contain dangerous chemicals which are harmful for your skin, hair and overall health.
• Use natural colours and avoid usage of things like eggs.
• As discussed earlier, Holi has great spiritual significance too! Celebrate it in a true festive mood and do not indulge in intoxication.
• Use dry colours as fas as possible and conserve the elixir of life, water!
This year, Holika Dahan is celebrated on 16th of March, Holi falls on 17th of March and Rang Panchami will be celebrated on 21st of March. OnlineTemple.com wishes you all a very happy, safe and fun-filled Holi! May your lives be as beautiful and as vibrant as the Holi colours!