Holi Festival Celebration 2021
The festival of colours holds a special place in Hindu mythology. Holi celebrates the start of a new season-spring. Earlier, it commemorated good harvests of the Rabi crop, the fertile land before the Kharif crop and the rains. It was a time to enjoy the end of winter and the beginning of spring filled with hope and joy.
The festival of Holi has many more aspects to it than just playing with water and colour. Here's a look at the mythological and significance of this much-loved festival...
According to the Hindu calendar, Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima which comes in either the month of February or March according to the Gregorian Calendar.
The word Holi derives its name from Holika who is the sister of Hiranyakashipu. This is how the Hindu mythology story goes: King Hiranyakashipu, the ruler of the great demons was granted a boon by Brahma, the god of wisdom and this made it almost impossible for him to be killed. The boon was a gift due to his long penance. Consequently, he grew arrogant and attacked the Heavens and the Earth. He demanded that people stop worshipping Gods and start praising him.
Hiranyakashipu's own son, Prahlada, was a devotee of Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu threatened him to stop but Prahlada continued offering prayers to Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu poisoned him, but the poison turned to nectar in his mouth. He was ordered to be trampled by elephants yet remained unharmed. He was put in a room with hungry, poisonous snakes and survived.
All of Hiranyakashipu's attempts to kill his son failed. Finally, he ordered Prahlada to sit on a pyre in the lap of Holika, Hiranyakashipu's demoness sister, who also could not die because she had a boon preventing her from being burned by fire. Prahlada readily accepted his father's orders and prayed to Lord Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as Holika burnt to death, while Prahlada survived unharmed.
The salvation of Prahlada and burning of Holika is celebrated as Holi. People burn bonfires on the eve of Holi to commemorate this event in mythology. This event is known as Holika Dahan or the burning of Holika also called Chhoti Holi or small Holi, after the fire Holika Dahan prayers are said and god is praised. In the South of India, Holika Dahan is referred to as Kama Dahanam.
In Mathura, where Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days till Rangpanchmi and celebrates Radha's divine love for Krishna. The festival officially ushers in spring, the season of love.
In different parts of the country, Holi is celebrated with different traditions.
Colour and water is thrown as people of all age groups get together to celebrate the festival which is associated with family, fun and joy.