Monday, March 1, 2010

Festival: HOLI

This Hindu festival is celebrated in North India only. People play with colours and water through the first half of the day. Thinly made jalebis and bhang (an intoxicated drink made of dry fruits and herbs) are the festival specialties.

How has Holi come about?
There are a few myths surrounding the festival. One is about Prahlad, the son of King Hiranyakashibhu. The king hated Lord Vishnu as He had been responsible for his brother Hiranyakshan’s death. He had banned one and all in his kingdom from taking the Lord’s name. But Prince Prahlad was an ardent devotee. Nothing his father did could stop the young lad from uttering the Lord’s name. Hiranyakashibhu’s sister Holika had the power to walk through fire without getting hurt. She decided to walk into one along with her nephew Prahlad and hoped to destroy him. But due to Lord Vishnu’s blessings, it was Holika who got destroyed in the fire while Prahlad walked out unblemished. The Holi fire signifies this.
There is another lore about Holi involving Krishna and Radha. Krishna was envious that Radha is very fair while he is so dark. He asks his mother Yashodha for a way to overcome this. She jokingly suggests that Krishna smear her with colour to make her dark. The mischievous Krishna does just that and the ‘festival of colours’ was born.
Then there is the story of Lord Shiva. He was in deep meditation. All the heavenly beings and those on the earth wanted Lord Shiva to get married to Parvathi. It was after the birth of Lord Skanda the problem of the demon Surapadman was to be sorted. But how to get Lord Shiva out of his meditative state? The onus fell on the Lord of Love, Kama. When Kama sent an arrow at Lord Shiva, the Lord opened his third eye and Kama was up in flames. This probably is also a reason why the Holi fire is lit year after year.

Whatever be the story behind the fest, it is one of great fun and frolic and brings together family and friends. But recently, the games have turned quite dirty and painful. People losing their eyesight due to use of bad quality colours have become a part of the norm. Those getting drunk with bhang and misbehaving seems to have become an accepted practice. This year will see the worst as there is also a shortage of water.

Festivals are a time of joy. But then, it must be so for everyone, not just a few. I think it is very important to play a safe Holi with environmental friendly colours that will not harm anyone and we should also be careful about the water we throw about.

Wish one and all a VERY HAPPY HOLI!


  1. i knw only the story of Kama, never heard of the other two, thanks for the info
    r you going to follow with a recipe of the jalebis? they look so yummy! the holi colours also look great!

  2. Happy Holi to u and ur family. Thanks for the info and the jalebis looks very tempting :):)


  3. Wish you and your family a happy holi.

  4. great blog you have here...the recipes are great

  5. sorry sundari I din't get that mail you sent email me from my profile

  6. delicious jalebis