India is a land of colourful festivals and fairs. Some festivals are celebrated in the memory of great men and saints. Some are celebrated at the change of season. Holi is a seasonal festival.
It falls on the full moon, in the month of Phalgun, which spans the end of February and the beginning of March on the Gregorian calender. It marks the end of winter and the start of spring, a season which is loved by all.
There is a legend associated with the festival of Holi. There was a demon king named Hiranya Kashipu, who being an ambitious ruler, wanted to be worshipped as god. But Prahlad, Hiranya Kashipu son, refused to worship him because he was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranya Kashipu could not tolerate it and decided to kill Prahlad.
He took help of his sister Holika, who was blessed. Fire could not burn her. Hence as per the king’s order, she sat in the centre of a bonfire taking Prahlad in her lap. But it so happened that Prahlad was saved and blessed Holika was burnt.
The event symbolises the victory of good over evil. Hence, Holi is celebrated every year to commemorate this historic event. Huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Holi to mark the distinction of Holika, the evil spirit.
People celebrate Holi with great joy. They sprinkle coloured water at one another. Small children look more enthusiastic. They buy brass or plastic syringes (pichkaries) and enjoy in discharging coloured water from the pichkaries at the passers -by and at their friends.
People wear new clothes and distribute sweets among friends and relatives. They smear coloured powders called ‘abeer’ or ‘gulal’ on the faces of all including, rich or poor. Holi stands as a festival to remove evil and usher in the ‘good’. People, forgetting their previous malice, meet with one another and bade good wishes. Thus, Holi brings people closer and teaches them to live in full harmony. It bridges the gaps between the rich and the poor.
The festival takes place and this adds to the merriment. A feeling of plenty is felt in the air. The hearts of the farmers are full of the joy. In the rural areas in north-India, the festival is celebrated sometimes with one week in advance with community singing, drum-beating etc.
Holi is indeed the season of merrymaking. But it is a pity that certain people throw filth and rubbish on one another instead of sprinkling coloured water. Such unwholesome occurrence turns the sacred festival into a source of annoyance and hatred. Sometimes very ugly events are seen.
We should enjoy Holi in the true sense of the term. We should not forget the message of this festival. Instead we should imbibe it and act accordingly. Otherwise the essence of Holi will be shattered. Now it is up to us whether we celebrate this festival to come closer or to create an unhealthy atmosphere.