The Festival of Colours is Holi, it is vibrant and filled with beautiful colours. Holi is considered as one of major festival in India. It is celebrated in the month of Phalgun on full moon day according to Hindu calendar.
This colourful festival also celebrates the eternal love of Radha and Krishna. This festival is celebrated in a grand style in the city of Mathura and Vrindavan. These are two important cities which are deeply associated to Lord Krishna.
Holi festival has an ancient origin and celebrates the triumph of 'good' over 'bad'. The colourful festival bridges the social gap and renews sweet relationships.
History of Holi:
Holi is an ancient festival of India and was originally known as 'Holika'. The festival finds a detailed description in early religious works such as Jaimini's Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutras. Historians also believe that Holi was celebrated by all Aryans but more so in the Eastern part of India.
It is said that Holi existed several centuries before Christ. However, the meaning of the festival is believed to have changed over the years. Earlier it was a special rite performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was worshiped.
Reference in Ancient Texts and Inscriptions:
Besides having a detailed description in the Vedas and Puranas such as Narada Purana and Bhavishya Purana, the festival of Holi finds a mention in Jaimini Mimansa. A stone incription belonging to 300 BC found at Ramgarh in the province of Vindhya has mention of Holikotsav on it. King Harsha, too has mentioned about Holikotsav in his work Ratnavali that was written during the 7th century.
Legends and Mythology:
In some parts of India, especially in Bengal and Orissa, Holi Purnima is also celebrated as the birthday of Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu (A.D. 1486-1533). However, the literal meaning of the word 'Holi' is 'burning'. There are various legends to explain the meaning of this word, most prominent of all is the legend associated with demon king Hiranyakashyap.
Hiranyakashyap wanted everybody in his kingdom to worship only him but to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana. Hiaranyakashyap commanded his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. Holika had a boon whereby she could enter fire without any damage on herself. However, she was not aware that the boon worked only when she enters the fire alone. As a result she paid a price for her sinister desires, while Prahlad was saved by the grace of the god for his extreme devotion. The festival, therefore, celebrates the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion.
Legend of Lord Krishna is also associated with play with colors as the Lord started the tradition of play with colours by applying colour on his beloved Radha and other gopis. Gradually, the play gained popularity with the people and became a tradition.
There are also a few other legends associated with the festival - like the legend of Shiva and Kaamadeva and those of Ogress Dhundhi and Pootana. All depict triumph of good over evil - lending a philosophy to the festival.
Synthetic colours will damage the health as well as the environment. So please use only natural colours for the Holi celebration and enjoy the beauty of the festival.
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