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The festival of Holi marks the end of winters and the beginning of the spring season. Therefore, Holi is a joyous festival that celebrates life and all of its colours. The festival of Holi is known by many names in the various parts of the country.
It's called 'Holi', 'Hori' and 'Dolyatra' in the north of India, 'Hutashani Mahotsav' and 'Holi dahan' in Goa. It is called 'Kamadahan' in South India. As the festival welcomes the spring season, it is also known as 'Vasantotsav' and 'Vasantagamanotasav'.
This year, Holi will be celebrated on 21 March, 2019.
Festivals in India almost always have a spiritual side to them. Similarly, the festival of Holi is not just about the colours and has much more significance attached to it.
Behind the many stories and legends that explain the reason of celebrating a festival, lies the spiritual side of it all. Holi is no exception to it. Stay with us as we explore the spiritual meaning of Holi.
The Story Of Prahlada
Prahalada was the son of the Demon King, Hiranyakashyapu. Hiranyakashyapu was someone who hated Lord Vishnu and couldn't even bear to hear his name uttered. He was so powerful that he forced the people under his rule to worship him instead of Lord Vishnu. It was in such circumstances that Prahlada was born.
Unlike his father, he was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyapu tried many ways to change his son, but it was of no avail. He even tried to kill Prahalada. Hiranyakashyapu had a sister by the name of Holika.
She had a magical shawl which came to her through a boon. This shawl would save her from fire. Hiranyakashyapu knew about this boon. Therefore, with a desire to kill his son, he asked her to sit on fire while having Prahlad in her lap.
She took Prahalada in her lap and sat on a pyre which was set on fire. But the child Prahalada was so pious and his faith in Lord Vishnu was so strong that Holika started burning up. She burned into ashes and Prahalada wasn't even singed. Lord Vishnu later took the avatara of Lord Narasimha to save Prahalada and the world from the evil clutches of Hiranyakashyapu.
The festival of Holi is celebrated on the occasion of the destruction of Holika. It represents the victory of good over evil. It teaches us that if your faith is strong, no evil can harm you. Faith in the almighty will help you survive even the hardest of hardships.
The Story Of Kama Dahan
After the death of Sati Devi, the wife of Lord Shiva, he went into deep meditation. It was then that a demon Tarakasura started his menace on the world. He had received a boon from Lord Brahma that he would be killed only by the son of Lord Shiva. With Lord Shiva in deep meditation, there was no one to save the world from Tarakasura.
The devas decided to wake Lord Shiva from his meditation. They sent Kama Dev, the God of Love and Lust to wake him up. Kama Dev aimed his arrow at Lord Shiva. The arrow broke the intense meditative state of Lord Shiva; but he was furious. He opened his third eye and the intense stare burnt Kama Dev to ashes.
This is another story which is narrated among the stories which is narrated on Holi. Spiritually, the opening of Lord Shiva's third eye represents the awakening of knowledge and wisdom. And the burning of Kama Dev represents the destruction of lust.
Therefore, the festival of Holi, in its purest form, urges us to rise above the evils of life like lust with the help of piety and wisdom. It teaches us how to celebrate life without falling prey to evils like lust.
Story Of Lord Krishna And The Gopis
Another legend associated with Holi talks about how Lord Krishna played with colours and teased the Gopis. It is said that during Holi, Lord Krishna as a child would visit Barsana with his friends. He would tease and play with Radha and the other women. The womenfolk would then hit Lord Krishna and his friends with sticks to chase them away in a sportive gesture. This is still re-enacted in the town of Barsana during the festival of Holi.
At the first glance, this legend seems to be light-hearted play without much spiritual significance, but that is not the case. This kind of Holi shows that everybody is equal in the eyes of the almighty. There can be no distinctions of male-female or the rich or poor when one sets out to play Holi. The society comes together as one and celebrates this festival of colours. It teaches us not to discriminate and to consider everyone as equal.