Holi is the most colorful Festival of India. It is celebrated on the full moon of Faagun month according to Indian Hindu calendar, which generally falls in the month of March. Although all over the world one way or another Festival of water is celebrated. In India Holi has its own mythological as well as natural background.
During this period of year India spring season starts, nature spreads her flowery cover all over the earth. Actual Holi start on the full moon of Vasant season (spring season). Even now a days in rural areas people wears yellow and orange colour cloths to welcome spring season. That day they pray goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge) and offer her the fresh wheat and rice grains. On Holi people prepare different natural color out of flowers. As modern trend chemicals are also in use in abundance to prepare different colour. These colour are mixed with the water and throw on each other.
Mythological story behind this Festival is very interesting. Long ago there was a king of demon namely Hirnyakashchpu. He done lot of prayer of lord Brahma and got the blessing. That no man, woman, God, Semi God, Bird or animal can kill him by any weapon, neither in day nor in night, neither inside nor out side of house, neither on earth nor in cosmos. After getting this bless from Brahma, he pretend to be the living God on earth. He forbids to pray any other God then him. Who ever try to pray other god he terrorized and killed them. All the good characters diminished from earth and all good people were sad and weak.
That critical time Hirnyakashchpu got one son. He loved him as the most precious thing on the earth. He named him Prehlaad. With the time Prehlaad grown and he was sent to school for education. Prehlaad was a great devotee of lord Vishnu by birth. He always chants the Vishnu mantra. When in schoolteachers taught all the students that Hirnyakashchpu is the God. Prehlaad protested and said his father is a simple king on earth. Vishnu is the king of kings. He is the ultimate. He is God.
His teacher tried to convince him that he is wrong and his father will be very angry when he will listen all this. But Prehlaad didn’t bother. When Hirnyakashchpu listened about this, he tried to correct Prehlaad according his wish. When he saw no change in prehlaad’s attitude, He ordered to kill Prehlaad so that other people take lesson from this.
Prehlaad was thrown from the hill but the lord Vishnu saved him. He was thrown at the front of mad elephant but when elephant saw him he bowed him and set calmly. He was thrown in boiling oil but he was unharmed. «There is no way to kill him, because of Prehlaad people start believing that I am not the God on earth» Hirnyakashchpu was walking in his room in very upset mood. At the same time his sister came. Her name was «Holika». She asked the cause of his anger. «I have a cloth which protect me from the fire. I will wear that and I will sit on the fireplace with Prehlaad. Fire will burn him and I will remain unharmed» Holika suggested.
On very next day Holika and Prehlaad went to one place and set Prehlaad set on her knee. That place was as per the plan made of flammable material i.e. wood, cow dung, dry bushes, wheat straw etc. As they set their, place was set on fire. Fire flames were touching the sky. Whole night the place burnt. In morning people saw that Prehlaad was sleeping unharmed while Holika was turned to ashes.
People started dancing out of joy and throw water to cool down the burning fire. During this they threw water on each other. People slipped on watery surface their cloth became dirty. That was the first Holi. Since than every year on the same day People collect wood, dry cow dung and other flammable material and put them on one place. They decorate that place with Rangoli (design made by the colored flour). A red Chunni is put on that as the symbol of Holika and a mud ball as the symbol of Prehlaad. Ritual prayers are offered on the Holika place and on a set time the collected material is set in fire. Man and woman take seven circles of the fire. During that they fry green wheat and green pea in fire and eat them.
With the wheat and pea special sour water with —- balls is also prepared which is very similar to the sour aguriats or tomato prepared by Russians for winter season. People drink the water while sitting around the fire. They dance around the fire and sing the songs of Holi. As during this Festival people used to eat Bhaang (an extract of tree, which gives alcoholic effects) sometimes people start doing strange activities and it is pleasure to see them that time. Bhaang have very dry and hot effect that is why even after getting wet for a long time people does not catch cold.
Children and younger people touch the feet of the elders and get theirs blessings. They also put colored powder on each other face, which is made from Ararot or Sandal (A kind of food grain) known as «Gulaal or Abeer». Some people use Sandal or perfume made out of natural flowers instead of these.
Many days before the Holi bazaar starts preparing to welcome this Festival by selling different material used in the celebration like biscuits necklace colorful head wears different flowers namely Tesu, Chameli, Champa, Harsingaar etc. for coloring the water. Different chemicals colour. Rubber balloons for throwing water far away people. The most interesting is the «Pichkaari» (big syringes like pump though which people fill water and throw on each other).
This festival gives opportunity to forget all the difference and restart the relation again. Colour helps a lot in this on the day of Holi almost everybody rich or poor, fat or thin, man or woman, friend or enemy looks same and then it is easy to accept the to compromise and try to restart friendship. People visit their relatives and put Gulaal to each other and wish a good and happy life. Formalities have no places on that day.
It is impossible if talk of Holi is completed without Lord Krishna and the famous Lathmaar Holi of Vrindavan and Barsana town. This has very interesting and naughty past. In Dwapar Yuga (when incarnation of lord Krishna happens) young Krishna with his friends on the Holi festival used to visit near by town Barsana. Where Radha, her beloved, used to live and tease her by throwing cold water and color and in streets they dance and sing the songs, which specially meant for Holi.
Radha and her friends also throw water and color on them, but when their patience loose they also come in the street take a branch of the tree full of flowers and beat the boys and sing the song. Boys have a wooden shield to protect them, which also decorated with flowers and cloths. Girls also have umbrella colorful and decorated which used during the dance which they perform in the evening in a general gathering «Mela».