Holi-Festival of India
Essay No. 01
Holi is a spring festival. It is celebrated in the month of Phalguna, as the lunar month is locally known. It is the month of March that corresponds with this time of celebration. Though originated in the northern part of India; Holi has assumed a national flavour over the ages. Despite being a Hindu festival, it is now regarded as a secular event. For, the entire nation takes the day off, as people, irrespective of race, culture and ethnic background, enjoy the spirit of Holi, Cities and suburbs, towns and villages all come alive to catch the frenzy of March madness with a range of colours.
Holi, the great Indian festival of colours, is a linique celebration of high spirits, when the new season is courted with a riot of rich colours. It is like a grand kaleidoscope that glorifies all the hues that tinge and renew the lives on earth.
It falls on the full moon day of the March, the month when the nippy north wind bows out to the refreshing and rejuvenating breeze from the south, heralding the onset of the ensuing summer in this part of the world. It is thus a festival of spring. The time when the seasonal cycle is caught on a transition. This is when nature starts donning new colour. The new foliages start sprouting on the branches, dried and weary over a winter. It is also time when the harvests are reaped and bundled in sheaves. The air is filled with promises of warmth and new lives as the earth discards the wintry glum to greet the bright sun of summer. Beset with this exhilarating backdrop, Holi comes, flinging colours and verve into the landscape of India. As if to mark the renewal and rebirth of life. Holi is thus a celebration of life, the life of love, unblemished joy and good spirits.
Celebrating the mood of nature with a range of colours. This is what colours of Holi signify. The spirit of celebration is to showcase the shifting panorama of life, of sights, movement of feelings.
The human hearts also feel the urge to be recharged with new colours to catch on the mood outside. And Holi gives us a wonderful chance to do this. For, it reminds us that the time is perfect to be coloured, to renew love and recharge your vitality. All in sync with nature. And the colour symbolises the energy, the vivid, passionate pulse of life signifying vitality.
The celebration of Holi is very ancient in its origin. And by its very origin, it celebrates an ultimate triumph of the `good’ over the ‘evil’. While, a feast of colours associated with the Holi, is the face of this celebration, the original reason of celebrating Holi, lies in its soul. And this gives us the ‘why’ of this ancient festival.
Literally `Holi’ signifies ‘burning’ in Indian language. But, how it came to be associated with ‘burning’, is a story. The reference is found only in ancient Indian mythology. And it is the legend of Hiranyakashipu, to whom the celebration of Holi is associated.
Way back in the pre-Christian era, there lived a demon King named Hiranyakashipu in ancient India. He wanted to avenge the death of his younger brother. The brother, also a demon, had been killed by Lord Vishnu, one of the supreme trio, monitoring the life and death in the universe (according to the Hindu belief):
To take on Vishnu, the tyrant King wanted to become the King of the heaven, earth and the underworld. He performed severe penance and prayer for many years to gain enough power. Finally he was granted a boon. Powered by the boon, Hiranyakshipu ‘thought he had become invincible. Arrogant, he ordered all in his kingdom to worship him, instead of God. The demon King, however,’ had a very young son, named Prahalad. He was an ardent devotee of Vishnu.
Despite his father’s order, Prahalad continued to pray to Vishnu. So the demon King wanted to kill his son. He asked the favour of his sister Holika who, because of a boon, was immune to fire. They planned that Prahalad would be burned. to death. A pyre was lit up and Holika sat on it, clutching Prahalad. Yet, at the end Prahalad emerged unscathed by the fire and Holika, the demon, was burned to ashes. The earnest devotion and complete submission to Lord Vishnu saved young Prahalad.
Thus was the triumph of Prahalad, the representative of good spirits. And the defeat of Holika, the representative of evil. Later, even the demon King Hiranyakashipu was killed by Lord Vishnu. But that is quite a different story.
It is from Holika that the Holi originated. This legend is relived even today on the Holi-eve when the pyre is re-lit in the form of bonfires.
Even today, people celebrate this occasion. Huge bonfires are lit up every year on the eve of the full moon night of the Holi to burn the spirit of the evils. Hence the story associated with the soul of the celebration.
Now, let us look into the face of it. How did the celebration of Holi assume a colourful face? Well, it is linked to yet another legend, the legends of Krishna. Though of much later origin, still, it was in the pre-Christian era. According to the Hindu belief, Krishna was a reincarnation of Lord Vishnu himself.
It was Krishna, the king of the ancient city of Dwarka, who popularised the tradition of Holi. The origin of the colourful and frolicking tone of Holi lies in the boyhood of Krishna. It all came up as part of his pranks, he used to play with his boyhood mates of Gokul, and Vrindavan. Situated in north India; these are the places where he spent his childhood.
It was at this time of year, Krishna used to play pranks by drenching the village girls, with water and colours. At first it offended the girls. But they were so fond of this mischievous boy that soon their anger melted away. And, it did not take long for other boys to join in, making it a popular sport in the village. Later, as Krishna grew up, the play assumed a new dimension. It added more colours to Krishna’s legendary love life. The legend of Krishna’s courtship with Radha and playing pranks with the `Gopi’s. The girls in the ‘dairy’ village of Gokul were mostly milkmaids and, hence locally known as the Gopis. The same tradition has transpired through the ages, turning it into a community festival of the masses.
As time kept flowing, the culture spread roots to other regions of the country. The Holi play of Krishna is documented in hundreds of ancient paintings, murals, sculptures and scriptures found across the subcontinent.
Besides Hinduism, India is also the home of innumerable other faiths and the religious and cultural diversity of this nation is manifested in the large number of non-Hindu festivals.
Essay No. 02
Holi is one of the most enjoyable festivals of North India. Although it is a Hindu festival it is celebrated by one and all. It is held on thefull moon day of Phalgun in March or April. It is also known as the ‘spring festival’ for the spring flowers are in bloom everywhere. In North India, Holi is celebrated with songs, gaiety, and fun and frolic. People throw coloured red powder at each other and enjoy themselves; sometimes it is difficult to recognise anyone at all, for each face looks like a colourful mask!
Holi also has a special significance — it is believed that Prahlad, the son of Hiranyakashyap, was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. His father, who was a demon, asked him to stop worshipping Lord Vishnu. But Prahlad refused, and his father got so annoyed with him, that he asked his sister Holika to sit in a burning pyre and burn up Prahlad. The fire did not harm Prahlad, but Holika died and was burnt to ashes. Thus Holi signifies the victory of good over evil.
Holi draws to an end as the sky turns dusky. Then bonfires are lit, and people worship the Holi fire. They sing and dance around this fire.
Even though several years have passed since the days of Prahlad, we still celebrate Holi and look forward to this colourful festival each year.
Essay No. 03
Holi is a festival of colours. It falls in the beginning of spring when nature seems to have awakened from deep sleep and trees bring forth new leaves and flowers began to bloom.
On this day from early morning people can be seen moving from one street to another, wearing coloured clothes and with colours in their hands. They rub gulal and other colours on the faces of not only their friends but also on them who they meet in their way.
Children also carry balloons full of coloured water which they throw on the passersby. There is a spirit of joy everywhere. Those who do not want to play with colours keep indoors. But often even they are not spared and people manage to throw colours on them. Though it makes them angry they can’t complain because it is Holi.
There are some people who deliberately use Holi for their indecent impulses. Instead of using dry colours they throw dirt or muddy water on others which sometimes leads to quarrels or even violent fights. Such incidents spoil the spirit of the festival. Also some people use this opportunity to eve tease women. This should also stop as it takes away all the enthusiasm of Holi.