Let’s start it with the line you will read for every festival “Holi is the most popular festival celebrated in India”. This festival of colours is the most rugged festival we celebrate. People try to colour their friends and families and at times strangers in the most brutal way possible. But something that is so popular among many since times unknown, cannot be such without its significance.
The Story of Hiranyakashiyup
Hirankashiyup (pronounced as hiran-kash-yup) was a king in ancient India who was like a demon king who wanted to take revenge for the death of his younger brother. His younger brother was killed by Lord Vishnu (who is also one of the Tri Dev including Lord Shiva & Brahma).
In order to kill him, the king wanted to get power. There was a way in those time, that was meditation or worship of the divine. So, he worshiped Lord Vishnu for years & then he finally got a boon of immortal (because the boon was that he would never be killed either in house of outside of house, so according to him & also others there are no place expect these). After this, he was so proud & all in rage that he started considering himself as God & asked his citizens to stop worshiping God rather they should worship him as a God.
But, story of this king twists when his only son “Prahlad” who was devotee of Lord Vishnu, he always disobeyed his father in this case & continue worshiping Lord Vishnu. As king was so devil, he decided to kill his son. He decided to burn Prahlad. For this, he asked his sister “Holika” to sit on fire with Prahlad in her lap so that they could burn Prahlad. As Holika did the same as asked, Prahlad was saved even in fire instead Holika was burnt to ashes because Prahlad was reciting Lord Vishnu’s name during this activity. After this Lord Vishnu killed the king in between house & outdoor.
Why They Use Colours?
It is believed that Lord Krishna, avtar of Lord Vishnu used to play Holi with colours with his friends from Gokul and Vrindavan. Therefore, from that time on wards everybody followed the God’s way. People use Gulaal and flowers to play Holi with everyone. In modern days, people started using pichkari (water gun) to throw water over others.
Importance For Hindus!
Hindus have been celebrating Holi even before the birth of Christ. Holi is mention in ancient religious books like, Jaimini’s Purvamimamsa-Sutras and Kathaka-Grhya-Sutra. The festival of Holi also finds a reference in the sculptures on walls of old temples. A 16th century panel sculpted in a temple at Hampi, capital of Vijayanagar.
A 16th century Ahmednagar painting is on the theme of Vasanta Ragini – spring song or music. It shows a royal couple sitting on a grand swing, while maidens are playing music and spraying colors with pichkaris.
Another Mewar painting (circa 1755) shows the Maharana with his courtiers. While the ruler is bestowing gifts on some people, a merry dance is on, and in the center is a tank filled with colored water.
Significance of Bhang/cannabis
People enjoy bhaang on this particular day quite a lot, specially in north India. You find people enjoying bhaang like anything on this particular day.
Bhaang is also associated with Lord Shiva and is considered a major part of the celebration. It is served in various forms from smoke to milk and pakodi.
Three Days Of Celebration
Day 1 – On full moon day (Holi Purnima) colored powder and water are arranged in small brass pots on a thali. The celebration begins with the eldest male member who sprinkles color on the members of his family.
Day 2 – This is also known as ‘Puno’. On this day Holika’s images are burnt and people even light bonfires to remember the story of Holika and Prahalad. Mothers with their babies take five rounds of the bonfire in a clockwise direction to seek the blessing of the God of fire.
Day 3- This day is known as ‘Parva’ and this is the last and final day of Holi celebrations. On this day colored powder and water is poured on each other.The deities of Radha and Krishna are worshiped and smeared with colors.