‘Rang barse bheege chunar wali, rang barse
Are kaine maari pichkaari tori bheegi angiya
O rangrasia rangrasia,
hoRang barse bheege chunar wali, rang barse…!’
This song from the superhit film ‘Silsila’ with Amitabh Bachhan dancing and playing with colours under the influence of ‘Bhaang’ is an all time legend in its own style!
Yes! Even today, that song keeps ringing in the ears of the young and the old with the same vigour and spirit that has defined the happiness within one of the most popular and the most colourful festivals in India, if not the world over today!
There were remembrances of Holi in the movies like the one in a movie called ‘Zakhmee’ in which Sunil Dutt sings with a group of people who play Holi ?
‘Aayi re aayi re Holi aayi re aayi re Holi
aayi mastano ki toli…
Toofaan dil mein liye…
Zakhmee dilon ka badla chukane….!’
Tries to convey a message to the audience that Holi could be played casually as these people search for those who have caused them unhappiness!
‘Holi ke din dil khil jaate hain
rangon mein rang mil jaate hain
gile shikawe bhul ke doston
dushman bhi gale mil jaate hain!’
That’s another song about this festival sung by Amitabh Bachhan and Dharmendra in the movie ‘Sholay’ that reminds us that even friends and enemies greet each others on Holi!
So what’s this thing that makes Holi such an event that makes people meet and mingle with singing and dancing, forgiving, forgetting or even searching for those who have caused misery to the ones at one time or the other?
India is a country with traditions that date back to the days of ‘Puranas’ and ‘Upanishads’.
The legend says that an evil king named Hiranyakashipu forbids his son Prahlad from worshipping Vishnu.
He punishes his son Prahlad by ordering him to sit on a pyre with his wicked aunt Holika who was believed to be immune to fire.
In some other version, Holika puts herself and Prahlad on the fire under orders from her brother Hiranyakashipu.
Prahlad accepts the challenge and prays to Lord Vishnu for safety. As the fire glows, everyone watches in excitement as Holika is burnt to death while Prahlad survives without a scar to show the power of the Lord!
This burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi.
According to some other belief, Holika begs Prahlad for forgiveness before her demise and he decrees that she would be remembered every year at Holi.
An alternative story is associated with a legend involving Lord Shiva, one of the major Hindu gods. Shiva is known for his meditative nature and most of his life spent in solitude and deep meditation.
Madana(Kama), the God of love, decides to test Lord Shiva?s endurance and appears to Shiva in the form of a beautiful nymph.
Shiva recognises Madana and gets furious. In a fit of rage he shoots fire from his third eye and reduces Madana to ashes.
This is often explained as the significance of Holi bonfire or ‘Kama Dahana’.
The festival of Holi also signifies the enduring love between Lord Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu) and Radha.
According to legend, young Lord Krishna asks his mother Yashoda about why Radha is so fair and he is so dark. Yashoda advises him to apply colour on Radha’s face and see how her complexion would change!
Since this is a yarn spun around Krishna and Radha, Holi is celebrated over a longer period in Vrindavan and Mathura, two cities with which Krishna is closely associated.
Krishna’s followers elsewhere find special meaning in this joyous festival as their celebration is considered to be an imitation of Krishna playing with the ?gopis?!
The colorful festival of Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima(Full Moon Day) which occurs at the end of February or in early March.
Holi festival has an ancient origin and it jubiliates the triumph of ‘good’ over ‘bad’. The colorful festival bridges the social gap and renews old and forgotten relationships.
On this day, people greet each other by throwing colours on each other, distributing sweets and in extreme cases, sharing ‘Bhaang’, a stimulant herb mixed with almonds, dry fruits and milk that envigourates the youth into dancing and singing!
The celebration begins with lighting up of bonfire on the Holi eve.
Numerous legends & stories associated with Holi celebration makes the festival more exuberant and vivid.
People rub ‘gulal’ and ‘abeer’ on each others’ faces and cheer up shouting – "Holi hai!? Holi also calls for sending blessings and love to near and dears with greetings and gifts.
This year, Holi is celebrated all over India, mostly on March 4th.
Though Holi started in the North as an important Festival, Southern States took some time to catch up with the spirit.
With businessmen, professionals and students settling over just about any nook and corner of the world exchanging their traditions in this modern age, Holi is significant not only as a National Festival, but as a Global Festival in its true sense today!
This year, the early morning Lunar Eclipse showing the moon in an Orange glow signifies one of the most colourful starts to the Festival of Colours, HOLI!
Photographs: RK Bhat/Joyce Alvares – Team Mangalorean
About the Author:
Author: Rajanikanth Shenoy- Kudpi