The festival of Holi officially usher in spring, the celebrated season of love. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in Mathura in memory of Radha’s diving love for Lord krishna.I had the opportunity to visit the place during the festival with family about two decades ago.On this particular day people from all walks of life meet each other ,some visiting from one place to another, meeting friends and throwing coloured water on each other sprayed through a plastic or metal flit gun. Coloured powder commonly called ” Gulaal”,is used by seniors on one another’s face or forehead during the occasion. Baloons filled with coloured water are also thrown on each other by the kids or teenagers. The festival also has its roots in ancient Bengal. In UP,MP Bihar & some other northern states ‘bhang’, an aphrodisiac, is exceedingly used during the festivity.
The festival has its roots in Hindu mythology ,too.The word originates from ‘Holika’ sister of the demon King Hiranyakashipu ,who is granted with a boon from’ Brahma’ for his long penance, making his death almost impossible. His own son Prahlada ,was a devotee of Vishnu. In spite of several warnings when he does not stop offering prayers to Lord Vishnu he orders his son Prahlada to sit on a pyre in the lap of Holika. What ensues thereafter is unbelievable as Prahalad survives and Holika is burnt alive.
Holi tradition in Punjab
In Punjab Holi is celebrated with the greatest enthusiasm at Anandpur Sahib .The festival called ‘Hola Mohalla’ continues for three days marked by religious and marital activities performed by artists using swords, arrow and other weapons, some of them on horsebacks. Also are shown stunts like riding astride two running horses. Religious singing, kirtans, recital of poetry and Guru Ka Langar served to millions of devotees during the currency of the festival as per the Sikh Tenets.
Holi ,in short is a festival of love, merriment & spreading a message of equality & tolerance. Holi songs have also been an essential part of Hindi films, too.
Pictures showing Hola Mohalla celebrations at Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib Anandpur, Punjab, during the festival; a scene from a Hindi film depicting Holi.