As I woke up today morning, the good morning messages on the social messaging App on my phone were mostly wishes and greetings on Holi.
My wife asked me to share with her some good messages which might have come my way so that she can forward the same to her well-wishers too. Nothing wrong in it, I thought, as I promptly did it. That’s what we all do; sometimes not even bothering to read, let alone understanding the full message before being over-enthusiastic to pass it on.
My youngest daughter, all of thirteen suddenly popped up this question, “Accha, why is Holi celebrated?” My wife immediately took over the mantle of explaining to her the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakashyap, and how the evil King asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with his son Prahlad in her lap to get rid of him, who was an ardent worshipper of Lord Vishnu, much to his great ire and how Prahlad came out of the fire unscathed while Holika and Hiranyakashyap paid the price for their sinister desire.
“Oh that explains the burning of Holika today but what does it have to do with the playing with colours tomorrow morning”, my daughter immediately queried. “That’s another story”, my wife explained. “The legend goes that Lord Krishna was very jealous of the fair complexion of his consort Radha when he was a little child as he was dark skinned and so he applied colour on her face, and since then Holi is celebrated as a mark of love where people get the freedom to apply colours on the faces of their loved ones”.
These were stories I too have heard over the years since my birth and had even been quite convinced in my childhood. But the prying look on my daughter’s face was enough for me to understand that she wasn’t.
I looked at my wife and quipped, “All that you have just explained her is what the mythology says. Rather than that should we not explain to our kids about the significance of this festival in our modern times” As my wife stared back at me, I added, “I think, if we don’t, our kids will just follow the customs and not really mean what they are doing”.
My daughter looked quite interested as she sat next to me and I tried to brief what’s Holy about Holi.
Let us accept that Holi is a festival of merriment and the timing of this festival could not have been more perfect than this. This is the time for the advent of spring when the fields are in full bloom and the farmers are expecting a good harvest, which gives them good reason to rejoice, make merry and submerge themselves in happiness.
When we apply colours on one another, we are no longer recognisable in our original form. We all start looking alike irrespective of the colour of our skin, our creed, our wealth. When we are smeared all over with colours, we fail to differentiate between friends and foes, rich and poor and everyone come together to celebrate with a spirit of bonhomie and brotherhood.
With the winter season having just passed and the summer setting in, this is the time of the year when people tend to feel sleepy and lazy, while our body experience tardiness due to the change the atmospheric temperature. The fun ways of celebrating this festival at this time of the year, when people sing and speak loudly, helps counteract the tardiness in the body and rejuvenates our system.
As I saw the glitter of enlightenment in my daughter’s eyes, I added what I had read somewhere. Scientists and Biologists have also proved and confirmed the significance of celebrating Holi in its correct sense.
While biologists believe that the colour sprayed on the body helps in strengthening the ions and make our skin healthier and beautiful when it penetrates the skin and enters into the pores, scientists have established that the mutation period of winter and spring induces the growth of bacteria in the atmosphere and in the body. When Holika is burnt, the temperature rises to around 145 degrees Fahrenheit and so when people perform circumambulation around the fire, the heat kills the bacteria in the body and thus cleansing it.
We actually need not be even this philosophical or scientific in our thoughts; I concluded clasping my daughter’s hands.
The celebration of these legends just helps in reassuring the people of the power of the truth and helps us understand the moral that it is ultimately the victory of good over evil, apart from pointing to the fact that devotion to God always pays as God will take his true believer in his shelter.
Let us not just waste water, our precious natural resource in the name of tradition and custom. Rather, let us celebrate this festival in its true spirit understanding and believing in the virtue of being truthful and honest rather than resorting to evil practices for small gains while torturing those who are honest.
Let us understand the holiness of Holi.