Saturday, 9 April 2016

H for Holi



Like Diwali, Holi is celebrated across India and is one of the most important festivals, when a national level holiday is maintained throughout the country.

Holi is a Hindu spring festival & is also fondly called festival of colours. It is a two-day festival which starts on the Purnima (Full Moon night) falling of Falgun month of Hindu Calendar (February -March in the Gregorian). The first day is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi or Agaza and the second as Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan, Phagua.
Childhood Reference:
HOLI meant fun, a day to play with colours visit houses especially which had girls of the same age and enjoy colouring to full extent. Lots of food especially Pua, Ras pua, Maal Pua , dahi bara & mutton. It was a full day fun, in the morning with wet colours & in the evening in new outfits with abeer & gulal. One such Holi memories is shared in my blog: Sweet Memories of Holi

Ras Pua

Celebration:
Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika bonfire where people gather, do religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil should be destroyed as the bonfire starts.
The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi - a free-for-all carnival of colours, where participants play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns (Pichkari) and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight. Anyone and everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, man or woman, children and elders. Traditionally, washable natural plant-derived colours such as turmeric, neem, dhak, and kumkum were used, but water-based commercial pigments are increasingly used. The frolic and fight with colours occurs in the open streets, open parks, outside temples and buildings. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place, sing and dance. People visit family, friends and foes to throw coloured powders on each other, laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies, food and drinks. Some drinks are intoxicating. Festive foods are gujiya, mathri, malpuas, Dahi bara and other regional delicacies.
For example, bhang, an intoxicating ingredient made from cannabis leaves, is mixed into drinks and sweets and consumed by many. In the evening, after sobering up, people dress up in new outfits and visit friends and family.

Holi Celebration

Symbolic & Mythological Reference:
The word "Holi" originates from "Holika". As per mythology Holika was the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap was the King of Multan and had earned a boon that he cannot be killed by a human or an animal, neither on earth nor in water that virtually made him indestructible. He grew arrogant, thought he was God, and demanded that everyone worship only him.
Hiranyakashyap's own son, Prahlada, however, disagreed. He remained devoted to Lord Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashyap. He subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy or his resolve to do what he thought was right. Finally, Holika, Prahlada's evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada, who survived while Holika burned. Seeing this, Hiranyakashyap, unable to control his anger, smashed a pillar with his mace. There was a tumultuous sound, and Lord Vishnu appeared as Lord Narasimha (half man half lion) and killed Hiranyakashyap put him on his lap.

Holika Dahan

The bonfire is a reminder of the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlada over Hiranyakashyap, and of the fire that burned Holika and thus is called Holika Dahan. The next day, when the fire had cooled down, people applied ash to their foreheads, a practice still observed by some people. Eventually, coloured powder came to be used in place of ash to celebrate Holi.


Regional Importance
In the Braj region of India, where the Hindu deity Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days (until Rangpanchmi) in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. The festivities officially usher in spring, with Holi celebrated as a festival of love. There is a symbolic myth behind commemorating Krishna as well. As a baby, Krishna developed his characteristic dark blue skin colour because the she-demon Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth, Krishna despaired whether the fair-skinned Radha and other girls would like him because of his skin colour. His mother, tired of the desperation, asks him to approach Radha and colour her face in any colour he wanted. This he does, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. Since then, the playful colouring of Radha's face has been commemorated as Holi.
Cultural Message
Holi spreads the message to end and rid oneself of past errors, to end conflicts by meeting others, a day to forget and forgive. People pay or forgive debts, as well as deal anew with those in their lives. Holi also marks the start of spring, and for many the start of the new year.
Some Regional Variation
In the Braj region of North India, women have the option to playfully hit men who save themselves with shields; for the day, men are culturally expected to accept whatever women dish out to them. This ritual is called Lath Mar Holi.
In Ahmedabad / Gujarat, in western India, a pot of buttermilk is hung high over the streets and young boys try to reach it and break it by making human pyramids. The girls try to stop them by throwing coloured water on them to commemorate the pranks of Krishna and the cowherd boys to steal butter and "gopis" while trying to stop the girls. The boy who finally manages to break the pot is crowned the Holi King. Afterwards, the men, who are now very colourful, go out in a large procession to "alert" people of Krishna's possible appearance to steal butter from their homes.
Outside Braj, in the Kanpur area, Holi lasts seven days with colour. On the last day, a grand fair called Ganga Mela or the Holi Mela is celebrated along the banks of River Ganga in Kanpur, to celebrate the Hindus and Muslims who together resisted the British forces in the city in 1857.
In some places there is a custom in undivided Hindu families that the woman beats her brother-in-law with a sari rolled up into a rope in a mock rage and tries to drench him with colours, and in turn, the brother-in-law brings sweets (Indian desserts) to her in the evening.
Goa Shigmo:
Holi is a part of the Goan or Konkani spring festival known as Śigmo in Kokaī or Śiśirotsava, which lasts for about a month. The colour festival or Holi is a part of longer, more extensive spring festival celebrations.

Outside India, the festival is celebrated in Nepal & entire South Asia, parts of Africa, Europe, & America.

Aditya Sinha
09.04.2016

That’s for today with F. Tomorrow it would be another festival with “G”
List of Other Festivals : Anant Chaturdashi, Akshay Tritiya ,Buddha Purnima, Basant Panchmi, Baisakhi,  ChhathaDiwali/DeepawaliEasterFestival of Breaking Fast - Eid ul Fitr, Ganesh Chaturthi

For my parallel second Challenge blog with A pls visit : Let the Soul Pour
For other A to Z challenge blogs visit : A to Z Challenge 2016