India is a land of festivals. One of the most popular festivals of the Indian culture is Holi or the festival of colors. Holi signifies the Spring season. It is amazing that the happy Spring season is linked to colors in all the different cultures of the world. Holi is celebrated on the full moon day and usually falls in the month of March.
Here are some facts from Hindu mythology about the Colorful Spring Festival:
The Legend of Vishnu:
- According to the Legend, Holi commemorates the death of the evil Holika, the sister of the Devil King Hiranyakashipu.
- According to Hindu Mythology, King Hiranyakashipu acquired a boon from Brahma that he shall not be killed during day or night, nor in air, water or land, nor by any human or animal, not by any natural forces or weapons, neither inside the house nor outside the house. Thus, he believed that he had tricked Brahma to bless him for being immortal. Consequently, he grew more arrogant and unjust and challenged the power of the God, claiming himself to be the Supreme God.
- Hiranyakashipu’s son, Bhakt Prahlad, was a staunch devotee of Lord Vishnu and refused to accept his father’s superiority over the Divine. So the proud Hiranyakashipu decided to kill his son. His many attempts to kill his own son failed, as everytime Lord Vishnu came to the rescue of His devotee.
- Ultimately, the devil king summoned his evil sister Holika, who was blessed with a fireproof piece of cloth, to sit in fire with her nephew.
- Holika readily sat in the fire with Prahlad on her lap, convinced that the fire cannot burn her and will only burn Prahlad.
- But when the fire was ablazed, a gust of wind blew, blowing away the booned cloth from Holika to Prahlad and thus Holika was burnt to ashes.
- Lord Vishnu later in his ‘Narshimha’ form (Avatar) killed Hiranyakashipu.
- Thus, the festival is celebrated for 2 days, the full moon night is the ‘Holika Dahan’ or the lighting of the bonfire, signifying the destruction of the evil forces. The next day is dhulivandan or the smearing of colors on our loved ones.
The Legend of Krishna:
Braj Ki Holi, is the most popular in the entire nation. The tradition of smearing the faces with colored powder is believed to have started here. Braj is the homeland of Lord Krishna and Radha.
It is believed that Lord Krishna was sad over his dark complexion and wondered why ‘Radha’ was so fair. One day, his mother Yashoda playfully suggested that he can smear colour on Radha’s face and change her complexion to any colour he wanted. Fascinated by the idea, Krishna proceeded to do so. He thus, introduced the festival of colours.
The Legend of Kamdeva:
Parvati was meditating to acquire Shiva as her husband. Moreover, Shiva was least interested in the affairs of the world complications and was in the meditative state. Thus, all the dieties were concerned and afraid.
The dieties then seeked the help of Lord Kamdeva, the god of love and passion to bring Shiva back to his original self. Kamdeva knew that he might have to suffer the consequences of doing this. Still, he accepted to shoot his arrow on Shiva for the sake of the world.
As planned Kama shot his love arrow on Shiva, on the day of Vasant Panchami, while he was in meditation. This made Shiva extremely angry and He opened His third eye – reducing Kamdeva to ashes. However, Kamdeva’s arrow had the desired effect and Lord Shiva married Parvati.
Kamdeva’s wife, Rati meditated for 40 days for revival of her husband by Lord Shiva. Shiva, the easily pleased Lord, was convinced that this was all the plan of the dieties and agreed to revive Kamdeva on Holi. People in South India celebrate Holi to commemorate kamdeva’s sacrifice for the good of the mankind.
Thus, the stories in the Hindu Mythology has the same underlying message: Holi is a happy occasion that symbolises humility, sacrifice, forgiveness, love, unity and above all happiness for one and all.Nevertheless, Holi has the powerful message of being one, by resolving our differences and ego.
Manila Indian Wishes everyone a ‘Happy Holi’!