It’s the Festival of Holi this weekend in India. It’s particularly popular in North India and Nepal. Some children in Kerala will also celebrate it but in a more muted fashion. The real pleasure comes from throwing powdered dyes at everyone you meet. No one is spared, not even your boss!
Holi, from the Sanskrit, marks the end of the winter, the arrival of spring and at an even deeper level the triumph of good over evil. So it’s day of great celebration, of re-newing old friendships and of huge meals! Even the separation imposed by the caste system is overlooked at Holi.
It lasts for two days starting on the Full Moon day. Holi Eve sees the lighting of bonfires but the real fun is for the children who take great delight in being ‘naughty’ with their playful coloured dyes.
The legend behind the festival is centered around Holika, a female demon, and the sister of Hiranyakashyap, the demon king. Hiranyakashyap considered himself ruler of the Universe, and higher than all the gods.
Prahalad was the king’s son. His father hated him because Prahalad was a faithful devotee of the god Vishnu and so he decided to murder his son. But the king’s attempts at murder didn’t quite work. Prahalad was thrown over a cliff, trampled by elephants, bitten by snakes, and attacked by soldiers. But still he survived.
So the king asked his sister, Holika, who had special powers that made her immune to fires, to kill the boy. And so she sat in the middle of a fire with the boy on her lap. Things did not go according to plan. Because she was using her special powers to do something that was inherently evil her power disappeared and she burned to death. But the lad survived and late went on to become king himself.
We, at Raheem Residency, wish you all a happy Holi.