Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Holi Aai re Aai re.. Aai re

Holi (also called Holaka or Phagwa) is an annual festival celebrated on the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna (early March). It celebrates spring, commemorates various events in Hindu mythology and is time of disregarding social norms and indulging in general merrymaking.
Holi is a festival of colour, masti and obviously we cannot skip various sweet and namkeen dishes.Celebrated all over India since ancient times, Holi's precise form and purpose display great variety. Originally, Holi was an agricultural festival celebrating the arrival of spring.
Holi Purnima is also celebrated as the birthday of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (A.D. 1486-1533), mostly in Bengal, and also in the coastal city of Puri, Orissa, and the holy cities of Mathura and Vrindavan, in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Holi-Day 1
The day of the full moon (Holi Purnima) is the first day of Holi. A platter ('thali') is arranged with colored powders, and colored water is placed in a small brass pot ('lota'). The eldest male member of the family begins the festivities by sprinkling colors on each member of the family, and the youngsters follow.
Holi-Day 2
On the second day of the festival called 'Puno', images of Holika are burnt in keeping with the legend of Prahlad and his devotion to lord Vishnu. In rural India, the evening is celebrated by lighting huge bonfires as part of the community celebration when people gather near the fire to fill the air with folk songs and dances. Mothers often carry their babies five times in a clockwise direction around the fire, so that her children are blessed by Agni, the god of fire.

Holi-Day 3
The most boisterous and the final day of the festival is called 'Parva', when children, youth, men and women visit each other's homes and colored powders called 'aabir' and 'gulal' are thrown into the air and smeared on each other's faces and bodies. 'Pichkaris' and water balloons are filled with colors and spurted onto people - while young people pay their respects to elders by sprinkling some colors on their feet, some powder is also smeared on the faces of the deities, especially Krishna and Radha.

"Don't Mind, It's Holi!"
During Holi, practices, which at other times could be offensive, are allowed. Squirting colored water on passers-by, dunking friends in mud pool amidst teasing and laughter, getting intoxicated on bhaang and reveling with companions is perfectly acceptable. In fact, on the days of Holi, you can get away with almost anything by saying, "Don't mind, it's Holi!" (Hindi = Bura na mano, Holi hai.)







History - There are many sayings about this festival -
I-
The legend commemorated by the festival of Holi involves an evil king named Hiranyakashipu. He forbade his son Prahlad from worshipping Vishnu, but Radhu continued to do offer prayers to the god. Getting angry with his son, Hiranyakashipu challenged Prahlad to sit on a pyre with his wicked aunt Holika who was believed to be immune to fire. (In an alternate version, Holika put herself and Prahlad on the fire on orders from her brother.)
Prahlad accepted the challenge and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika was burnt to death, while Prahlad survived without a scar to show for it. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi. According to some accounts, Holika begged Prahlad for forgiveness before her demise, and he decreed that she would be remembered every year at Holi.

II-
An alternative account of the basis of the holiday is associated with a legend involving Lord Shiva, one of the major Hindu gods. Shiva is known for his meditative nature and his many hours spent in solitude and deep meditation. Madana, the God of love, decided to test his resolve and appeared to Shiva in the form of a beautiful nymph. But Shiva recognized Madana and became very angry. In a fit of rage he shot fire out of his third eye and reduced her to ashes. This is sometimes given as the basis of Holi's bonfire.
It is often believed that it was on this day that Lord Shiva opened his third eye and incinerated Kamadeva, the god of love, to death. So, many people worship Kamadeva on Holi-day, with the simple offering of a mixture of mango blossoms and sandalwood paste.

IV-
Holi is also celebrated in memory of the immortal love of Lord Krishna and Radha. The young Krishna would complain to his mother Yashoda about why Radha was so fair and he so dark. Yashoda advised him to apply colour on Radha's face and see how her complexion would change. In the legends of Krishna as a youth he is depicted playing all sorts of pranks with the gopis or cowgirls. One prank was to throw colored powder all over them. So at Holi, images of Krishna and his consort Radha are often carried through the streets. Holi is celebrated with eclat in the villages around Mathura, the birth-place of Krishna.

V-
It was also on this day that an ogress called Dhundhi, who was troubling the children in the kingdom of Prthu was chased away by the shouts and pranks of village youngsters. Although this female monster had secured several boons that made her almost invincible, shouts, abuses and pranks of boys was a chink in the armor for Dhundi, owing to a curse from Lord Shiva.

Courtesy - (http://hinduism.about.com/ and http://www.religionfacts.com/)