Saturday, March 03, 2007

Happy Holi

Holi is a Hindu holiday that appears on my calendar for Saturday, March 3.

Holi falls on the Full moon day in the month of Phalgun on the Hindu Calendar (March on ours). This festival heralds the arrival of Spring and the triumph of good over evil. It is a day of hijinx and general hilarity. It has ancient origins, existing several centuries before Christ, but its meaning has changed over time.

Holi was originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, but now commemorates the legend of an arrogant king who ordered his people to worship him as God. His son, Prahlada, however, continued worshiping Lord Vishnu. The king tried to kill his son but failed each time. Finally, he sent his sister, Holika, who was said to be immune to burning, to sit with the boy in a huge fire. However, Prince Prahlada emerged unscathed, while Holika burned to death.

This festival is also associated with the love of Krishna and Radha.

The festival is celebrated in different ways in different areas. Generally Holi is an excuse for Indians to shed inhibitions and caste differences for a day of spring fever and fun. Teenagers spend the day flirting and misbehaving in the streets, adults extend the hand of peace, and everyone chases everyone else around, throwing brightly colored powder (gulal) and water over each other.

On the night of the full moon, bonfires are lit to cleanse the air of evil spirits and bad vibes, and to symbolize the destruction of Holika. The next morning, the streets fill with people running, shouting, giggling and splashing. Marijuana-based bhang and thandai add to the uninhibited atmosphere. Promptly at noon, the craziness comes to an end and everyone heads to the river or bathtub, then inside to relax and partake of candies.

In some areas, women play “Holi” with the men. They drag their unlucky captives, beat them and dress them in female attire.

Sources/Lots more info:">

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