Holi - Now and Then

Wish you all a very Happy Holi, …. While writing this post I am thinking of the meaning or the way of celebrating Holi. At times it seems that the our festivals have also become digital like our world.

Today morning before I get up , I had 13 sms in the inbox of my cell phone. I replied them and send holi wishes to atleast another 20 people from my contact, and this process is still continuing. Most of us are quick enough to write down some of the creative lines (holi wishes) on the wall of our face book  account or have twitted the same. If you could get some time, probably you will send some e – cards to your near and dear ones or will write something on your blog, the way I am doing this. Once we have done this we are almost satisfied …. As if we have celebrated our festival.

Don’t you think that we are missing the actual human touch? This digital festival has become more of a plateform to show off the things rather to enjoy the moment. Most of the people are not enjoying the moment when they actually getting showred with different colour or covered with gulal.  They just want few photographs to share on their networking sites and can get different comments.

Though there have been references to a festival like this in Sanskrit texts like ratnavali where people sprayed coloured waters using bamboo syringes,the origin of the modern Holi festival has been traced to ancient Bengal. It was a Gaudiya Vaishnav festival, in accordance to Vaishnaviya Tantra. People went to Krishna temples, applied red colour to the icon and then distributed the red coloured powder or Abir along with malpua prasad to family and friends. Red signified the colour of passion and Lord Krishna is the king of desires. The ritual signified that all our desires should be diverted for the attainment of Krishna and for the well being of society.

In some cultures though,the ritual of burning wood and leaves on the full moon night already existed. This ritual was to signify the end of winter and full advent of spring. Old wood and leaves that had fallen were burnt to signify that it is time for new leaves and flowers.People later smeared their bodies with ash. Later, however, the story of Holika Dahan has been associated with this ritual.

The legend on King Hiranyakashipu is one of the explanations Hindus look back to. The King condemned his son, Prahlad, from worshipping the god Vishnu. However, he continued to pray to him. Filled with anger, the King made a challenge to his son. He was to sit on a pyre along with his aunt Holika, believed to be unharmed by fire. The son accepted the challenge, praying to Vishnu to protect him. As the fire began, Holika was burnt to a crisp but Prahlad lived and was unharmed. This burning of Holika is the reason why Holi exists.

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