Holi is one of the liveliest festivals in India and is very ancient. People generally identify the festival as a celebration of colors. The very origin of the festival describes and emphasizes the triumph of 'good' over 'evil'. This popular Hindu festival is a time when people get together and shake off the gloom of winter and welcome spring. The holiday is primarily observed in India, Nepal and other countries with large Hindu populations such as Suriname, Mauritius, Bangladesh and the Fiji Islands. Although the festival is Hindu, it is celebrated by people from all castes and religions, where inhibitions are put aside, creed and dialect are at the bottom of the ladder and when the color of skin doesn't matter. Today is the day, when people smear or throw colored powder or water on one another and become one. In modern times, not many people know or want to learn about, how the festival came to be. However, it is always better to have a prior understanding of the festival's history in order to be able to appreciate it better. Go through the following lines in the article to know more.
Changes In Holi Celebrations
According to mythology, Hiranyakashyap, the king of demons, demanded that his subjects respect and fear him, all of whom did, except one, the demon king's son, Prahlad. Legend has it, that the young boy was an ardent worshipper of Lord Vishnu, the Supreme Being. In spite of several warnings and threats from Hiranyakashyap, Prahlad continued to worship Lord Vishnu. After several failed attempts of trying to kill his own son, Hiranyakashyap ordered his sister, Holika, to take Prahlad in her lap and sit on a burning pyre. Holika could not die because she had a boon that protected her from fire. Prahlad accepted his father's orders and to everybody's astonishment, survived the fire while Holika burnt to death. The salvation of the young boy protected him from harm while the evil deeds of the demon king led to the death of his own sister, Holika. Thus, on the eve of Holi, a bonfire is lit, prayers are offered and the triumph of good over evil is celebrated.
Lord Krishna And Holi
Everyone now knows how the eve of Holi came to be and why it is so significant. However, the question remains as to how 'colors' were incorporated into this religious festival. The answer lies in the popular folklore of Lord Krishna and Mathura, the place of his birth. It is believed that Lord Krishna popularized the festival by playing pranks on the 'gopis' and Radha. It is also believed that since Lord Krishna was dark, he always wondered why his companion, Radha was very fair. It is said that his mother, Yashoda, impishly suggested that he could smear color on Radha's face and change her skin tone to any color he wanted. Charmed by the idea, Krishna progressed to do so and thus, introduced the festival of colors.
In Mathura and Vrindavan, where Lord Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for around 16 days. In ancient times, the festival commemorated good harvests and marked the onset of spring. It soon became a festival of enjoying spring's plentiful colors and bidding farewell to winter. In the rest of the country, the festival was originally celebrated for 5 days, with 'Holika' marking the beginning of the festival and 'Rangpanchami' marking the end of the festivities. In ancient times, Holi colors were traditionally made of Kumkum, Neem, Turmeric, Bilva and other medicinal herbs by Ayurvedic doctors.
Modern Day Holi
Nowadays, Holi is celebrated for a period of maximum two days with synthetic colors, colorants and dyes. The festival has become more commercial with the arrival of small vendors and the rapid production of chemical colorants and industrial dyes in most urban parts of India. Due to the commercial availability of attractive color pigments, natural colors have now been replaced with synthetic colors along with the arrangement of 'bhaang' (a modern day concept and beverage), fast music, fast food and influence of other cultures from around the world. Since, everyone loves the festival; the festival has now become a hot favorite among many communities who have popularized the festival according to their own customs and traditions. For eg, in Trinidad and Tobago, the festival is accompanied by songs traditional to the soil of the country.
Holi is a popular springtime festival and has definitely changed over the years. With the onset of a number of products, mixture of cultures and numerous myths, Holi has evolved as a festival but continues to be a favorite. Hope this article familiarizes you with the changes in Holi over time.
The celebration of Holi has changed with the passage of time. Here is an account of it.