Holi - A color Festival
"Holi Hai", is the most common voice that can be heard in the streets of India during the Dol-Purnima, which was 23rd March of this year. The Color Festival of India. Much like the Halloween of the West but differs far in the origin and history. I remember my first "Holi" festival with my brother and my friends when I was 5. We played along the streets painting faces of each other with different colors and this is the day when you can paint any other person you encounter in the neighborhood without any jinx. This ancient tradition starts the day before when people starts piling up dry twigs and leaves and prepare a statue of the evil and burns at night, locally known as "Nera-Pora" in Bengal. Its delight becomes more enjoyable when people gather around during the burning and dances with rhymes in their mouth, "Aaj amader Nera- Pora, Kal amader dol, Purnima te chand uteche, Bolo Hori bol" which means "Today is our Nera- Pora, Tomorrow is the Holi, Full Moon is over the head, and Lord Hari I Praise you". The following day we celebrate from the morning. Children prepare themselves with colors in their hands, elders play with "abir" meaning the color of dusk, a traditional color for this festival. Also there are traditions like drinking "Bhang" a preparation of cannabis with milk, ghee and spices. Many neighborhood arranges games like "Handi Bhanga" or Pot Breaking where a clay pot filled with color is hanged up high with ropes and competition starts with breaking it by building a human ladder. In many localities this is how the festival starts for the day. Children love to eat traditional "Moth" a type of triangular, hardened sweet of various colors.
The origin of this festival is still properly not known but the custom can be traced back as "Holika" to the ancient religious manuscripts like Jaimini's "Purva-Mimamsa-Sutras" (300 - 200 BC) and "Kathaka-Grihya-Sutras" (around 500 BC). This day is also memorized for many imporatant events in the religious context related to the Lord Shiva turning Kam Deva into ashes with his third eye , "Holika" the sister of Hiranyakashipura, a demon king, tried to kill Prahlada the child devotee of Lord Vishnu. etc. Most scholars think that this festival has been initiated in Vrindavan by King Indradyumna, where it is celebrated for 16 days to memorize the divine love of "Radha" and Lord Krishna. This day is also known as the birthday of Sri Krishna Chaitanya, 1468 AD a devotee of Lord Krishna.
In most of the localities the celebration is ended by the noon. In the afternoon people wishes each other "Happy Holi", neighbor visits each others home with sweets and thus the celebration of colors are completed with the tint of the sunset in the west.
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