Festivals are an inherent part of India. Every single state in India celebrates some or the other festivals with joy and enthusiasm. The festivals bear a unique significance and have a mythological tale associated with them. 28th and 29th of March are two such dates when India celebrates Holi 2021. It is a festival of colours, a festival of joy, a festival of love and a festival of bonding. COVID-19 this year has curbed the Holi 2021 celebrations considerably, yet the colourful instinct is still in the air and in the lives of the people staying in India. People of all communities in India join hands in celebrating this joyous festival and immerse themselves in a multitude of colours.
As I had mentioned before, every festival in India bears an interesting tale from the Hindu or other religion’s mythology. Holi is also not an exception. So before we embark upon the celebrations of Holi 2021, here is the myth. The Hindu religious book, Bhagavad Purana mentions a demon king named Hiranyakashapa. During his reign, he turned out to be extremely arrogant and was a trouble for the Gods in Heaven. Through his meditation and devotion, he had earned a boon from Lord Vishnu that neither man nor animal can kill him. Hiranyakashapa demanded his people and son too, to workshop him as their God. His son, Prahlad, disagreed and worshipped Lord Vishnu.
Hiranyakashapa was furious at his son and started punishing him severely. But because of the blessings of Lord Vishnu, he was never able to harm his son. Once, the demon king’s sister Holika tricked Prahlad and convinced him to sit on a pyre with her. She covered herself with a blanket to protect her from the fire and kept Prahlad exposed so as to burn him. But Lord Vishnu came to the rescue, the blanket flew off from her and covered Prahlad thus protecting him from the fire. Holika was burnt and blazed by the fire. Later Lord Vishu appeared in the form of Narsimha (half lion and half-human) and killed Hiranyakashapa. Thus ended an era of evil. Holi every year, starts with the burning of Holika, signifying the end of evil and the start of a new life.
The Legend of Lord Krishna
The festival of Holi has another great story associated with it, the legend of Lord Krishna. It commemorates the divine love of Lord Krishna and Radha. Radha had fair skin and Krishna had a dark skin colour. In fact, he was hesitant to approach Radha and following his mother’s suggestions asked Radha to apply colours of her choice on his face. From that day, Holi is celebrated by smearing different types of colours at each other’s face.
Holi 2021 is being celebrated in various moods in different states of India. Though in a toned-down mode, the spirit is still vibrant in each one of them. Like every year, the celebration starts with Holika Dahan or the burning of Holika marking the end of evil. An open space is selected for performing the ritual. Wood, straw and other combustible materials are collected and heaped together for the pyre to lit up fast. Men and women adorned in new colourful clothes and dazzling jewellery, group near the pyre and offer honey, sweets etc to seek the blessings of the Lord and end the evil influences on the society. The bonfire occurs usually after sunset marking the victory over evil. People often dance and sing around the fire.
Holi in Various Forms
In West Bengal, the state where I belong, located in the eastern part of India, celebrates Holi as Doljatra. In Goa, Holi is celebrated as the advent of spring. The state of Gujarat will celebrate Holi 2021 for 2 consecutive days. The people residing in the state of Maharashtra in the western part of India, term the festival Shimga; celebrating for 5 to 7 days. Mathura, the birthplace of Lord Krishna, starts the celebrations by offering prayers to the Lord. In Punjab, the celebration starts 7 to 8 days before comprising of prayers, preparing sweets, decorating houses, inviting guests, playing with colours, performing traditional songs and dances etc. In Uttar Pradesh, Holi is celebrated in a slightly different manner. Popularly known as Lathmar Holi, the menfolk provoke the womenfolk to rouse their anger. Womenfolk playfully try to approach them with sticks and the men protect themselves with shields.
New dresses and new ornaments mark the celebration of Holi. People of all generations and communities enjoy the festival in their own unique ways. Traditional sweets are prepared in households and offered to guests, friends and family members. People smear colours at each other soaking themselves in a myriad of colours. Nowadays people use organic colours to prevent harming the skin.
The spirit of Holi 2021 and beyond is about happiness, harmony, bonding and enthusiasm. The colours brighten our lives and spread an aura of enjoyment and fun. Hope you enjoyed reading about the Festival of Colours.
A travel enthusiast craving to explore the exotic destinations in the world, deciphering the mysteries and the thrill concealed in them.