A festive day to leave past errors, regrets and negativity and move ahead to new happiness, health and goodwill is the colourful Holi. One of the most popular festivals of our culture, Holi marks the celebration of love, victory of good and evil and welcoming new ventures into life.
Holi is the triumph of good over evil. Bhagwan Vishnu incarnates as Narasimha to save little Prahlad from the demon Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap’s sister, Holika takes little Prahlad and jumps into the fire to kill him as she had a boon of being unharmed by fire. But instead Holika burns in the fire. Prahlad comes out unharmed and is blessed by Bhagwan Vishnu. As the evil Holika got perished in the fire, the festival is celebrated as a mark of good’s victory over evil. Hence, Holika Dahan is one of the important rituals observed in this colourful festival where people gather in a community bonfire as a significance of Holika Dahan.
Holi is also the celebration of the divine love of Shri Krishan and Radha. One beautiful story which depicts the love of Radha and Shri Krishna is when Shri Krishan was feeling bad for being blue skinned and wondered whether Radha would really love him or not. Listening to this, Yashoda requests Radha not to go by the colour of her son and colour him with whatever colour Radha wanted Shri Krishan to be. So, Radha colours him in all the bright colours and it ends up as the celebration of love through colours. It also marks the fresh colours every spring season brings with it welcoming new life and new celebrations.
The festival of colours and love not only is confined to Radha and Shri Krishna, but also remembering the affection of Bhagwan Shiv and Parvathi and marking return of Kamdev who united them. When Bhagwan Shiv was in deep meditation, the Devas seek the help of Kamdev, the love god to get Bhagwan Shiv attracted to Bhagvathi Parvathi who was in the service of the Bhagwan Shiv. When Kamdev shoots arrows at Bhagwan Shiv, he gets burnt by Bhagwan Shiv’s third eyes and is reduced to ashes. This upsets Rati, Kamdev’s wife and performs penance for forty days to bring back life into her husband. In the meanwhile, the arrows do their work and Bhagwan Shiv understanding the true devotion and love of Bhagvathi Parvathi gets married to her. Then upon Parvathi’s behest and Rati’s devotion for her husband, Bhagwan Shiv brings back Kamdev to life on the very day of Holi after forty days of Vasant Panchami marking the forty days of Rati’s penance. Bhagwan Shiv also gives them a boon that hereafter no one would be able to see Kamdev except for Rati and he would be safe from such unknown encounters.
The return of Kamdev is celebrated with various colours and festivities, thus celebrating love in its true sense.
Holi is a beautiful festival which brings people together irrespective rich and poor, friend or foe, man and woman, children and elders. Groups carry drums and other musical instruments, go from place to place and enjoy song and dance. People visit family, friends and come together to throw coloured powders on each other laugh and gossip, then share Holi delicacies. Holi in its true colours is a celebration of life.