Holi | Festival of Colours | A brief History
Holi Hain! Happy Holi!
Holi is also known as the festival of colours and is perhaps the most vibrant of all Indian festivals. Holi, a Hindu festival, is celebrated all across India. It marks the end of winter and welcomes spring. And what better way to welcome spring than a play with gulaal [colours].
India, a megadiverse country, is home to up to 447 languages- 7 different religions, 3000 castes and 25,000 sub-castes and communities. Each celebrating community has its customs, traditions and beliefs, but the flavour remains the same. Holi has cultural significances, and depending on the region one is from, legends centres around Vishnu, Shiva and Krishna.
The story of Lord Krishna and his love for Radha forms the centre of traditions for people in the East, North-East. More so in cities like Mathura and Vrindavan, believed to be his birthplace.
In South India, the legend is around Lord Shiva and God of Love, Kamadeva. Shiva, in an intense fit of anger, opens his third eye and burns Kamadeva to ashes. Rati, Kamadeva's wife, meditates for 40 days to appease Lord Shiva, who finally forgives and restores Kamadeva. Holi is the celebration of the return of the God of Love on the 40th day.
However, the most commonly told story and then one I have heard growing up is that of a powerful and evil King Hiranyakashyapu, who wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him as a God. However, his son, Prahlada, refused to do so as he was a Lord Vishnu devotee. Angered by the disobedience of his son, Hiranyakashipu asks his sister, Holika, to murder Prahlada. Holika was immune to fire, and she tricked Prahlada into sitting with her on a pyre. However, as her intentions were evil, her power became ineffective, and she perished in the fire while her nephew Prahlad gained immunity and lived. Lord Vishnu's Narasimha [half lion half man] avatar then kills Hiranyakashipu. The celebration that follows is Holi, which symbolises the triumph of good over evil.
Then there is Bollywood 'Holi'. If you have seen a commercial Bollywood movie, you would have noticed how Bollywood loves to romanticise and go big on emotions, situations, feelings, weddings and festivals! And Holi is not any different, the 'situation' will revolve around the hero trying to win over his lady love, and he would spontaneously roll into a song and dance, with at least 100 background dancers busting into the same moves as the actors. Holi is a massive affair not only on the silver screen but also in celebrity life. Wear them cool white threads, and you are ready to play Holi!
Honestly, I can count the number of times I have participated in this festival. Unfortunately, the colours available back then were unsafe, and it took me days to wash them off. I also end up looking like the jackal that fell in the blue dye, not to mention my poor skin and clothes taking a beating with all the washing! That is not the case anymore. Now safe gulaal is available in the market- some even made from discarded temple flowers, collected from pujas and garlands. The family and I were fortunate enough to celebrate Holi last year, just before the world went all pear-shaped!
We do, however, carry a beautiful collection crafted from undyed organic cotton produced using traditional processes. Now you may or may not want to wear these to Holi, but we are confident that you will find many many occasions to wear them! Do have a look.
Images via Pinterest