Saturday, 25 March, 2023

Holi—the festival that welcomes spring

Holi is one of the main Hindu festivals and is celebrated with much fanfare across India to welcome spring and celebrate the eternal love of the mythical deity Krishna and his consort Radha. Tens of millions of revellers smear each other in bright blue hues to mark the Hindu festival of colours.
Hindus also perform religious rituals and make bonfires, a significant event the night before Holi, to signify the triumph of good over evil. During the Hindu religious festivity, markets get decked with various hues, water pumps are sold fast and sweet shops are abuzz with customers. In cities and towns, lavish feasts are organised and sweets are distributed to celebrate the festival. Many housing societies and residential complexes organise cultural programmes.
Holi is usually held in March on the full moon night known as Phalgun Purnima on the Hindu calendar. While the first night is usually dedicated to more sombre rituals, it is on the second day when the vibrant celebrations begin. The festival is marked by raucous parties where people throw and smear coloured powder on each other.
In different parts of India, Holi is adapted to various cultures. In the Hindu holy cities of Vrindavan and neighbouring Mathura in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, believed to be the birthplace of Krishna, hundreds of thousands of devotees gather outside temples where they play Holi with colours and flower petals.
The festival, although celebrated for two days across the country, starts a month ago in Vrindavan, where women play Lathmar Holi, beating with sticks as they chase men with sticks — a recreation of Krishna and Radha’s frolics. Many widows, who are abandoned by their families, also break Hindu social norms by smearing bright colours on each other. They are traditionally expected to stay indoors as their presence is considered to bring about bad luck.
In Kerala, people celebrate the festival in a traditional manner by splashing water mixed with turmeric powder. In northern Punjab state, members of a warrior Sikh set called Nihangs observe Hola Mohalla a day before Holi and exhibit their combat skills.

Courtesy: The National