Holi falls on the full moon of the vedic month of Falgun (mostly in March).
The word Holi is derived from Sanskrit word “Holika” which initially meant “cereals (wheat, millet) roasted over fire “. This derivation gives much emphasis to the fact that the festival is Vedic in origin.
A reference to “Baishwadeva Yagya” is found close to Vedic period which was performed for four months starting from the full moon day of Phalgun month.
In this ritual cereals consisting of wheat and millet were put in the holy fire as an offering to God/Goddess and the remains after the ritual was distributed as “Prasadam” to the community.
This is very similar to the way Holi is celebrated in northern parts of India where cereals are tied to stick and roasted in the Holi fire and the resultant ash is applied on the body very similar to distribution of Prasadam, As with the magnamous history and diversity of India many legends got attached with Holi which transformed the festival to its present form.
Lets have a look at important HISTORY –
Narad Puran described Holi as celebration of the vanquishing of demoness “Holika” who was blessed with immunity from fire.
Holika’s brother (Hiranyakashapu) was an aethist who was highly opposed to his pious son’s “Prahlad’s” devotion to Lord Vishnu. He tried all means to destroy his devotion and also him but failed .
Ultimately he instructed his sister “Holika” to carry “Prahlad” in her arms and sit in fire. On doing so conversely Holika died of severe burns but no harm came to Prahlad.
Holi as per Narad Puran is celebrated to commemorate this legend which on deeper levels describe the burning of material desires and social misconduct which occurs due to their pursuit in form of “Holika” in the holy fire and tread on the path of spiritual upliftment in form of “Prahlad”
HEALTH AND RELIGIOUS IMPORTANCE
HEALTH BENEFITS ACCORDING TO AYURVEDA-
Holi is celebrated after season of cold,in Vasant rutu.
In this season previously accumulated Kapha start melting in body and creates so many Kapha problems and diseases in body.
On this holy day of Festival ppl used to eat corn and dates.If we see its qualities, Both this can very much helpful to eradicate accumulated kapha from body.
Along with dat in Gujarat people r used to consume sugar candy, as it can produce godd Kapha in body.
In d evening time on d d ay of Holi, People get together and light the fire. They do “PRADAKSHINA” or dey move around d fire, as this heat can b benificial to eradicate Kapha also.
So celebration of Holi is very much benificial by Health means.
Phalgun Shulka Purnima (full moon) is the last day of the Vedic calendar and a new year starts from the next day , the advent of Chaitra.
Hence the bonfire reflects burning the deeds of past year and accepting the new with happiness. Holi also marks a change in climatic conditions as the Indian region from extreme cold moves towards heat and hence there is rise in “KAPHA” (phlegm) disorders due to its liquification from its accumulation in the cold season. This gives rose to epidemics and infections. Celebrating around the “Holi” fire exposes the body to extreme heat which helps liquefy and destroy the phlegm making the body resistant to infection. Even the acts of shouting, running and absorbing the flames are an indication to indulge in heavy activity to get rid of phlegm and expose to medicate fumes to destroy phlegm in the sinus of the head and prevent disease
Holi is known as “Madan Mahotsava” in south India. Since the fruiting season starts from this day it is considered as an period of “Kamadeva” the god of “progeny” and “carnal pleasures”. Hence Kamdeva is worshipped on Holi. This period is considered highly favorable for fertility. The period is considered pious with a very good reference to Lord Krishna who associated himself with “Kama (physical cohabitation)” and describes it to be pious and must be initiated without violating religious protocols as an act of duty and not lust. Lust deprecates a soul and makes it wander for ages and hence Kama must be used to beget offsprings. Hence “Kama puja” (now deprecated due to unavailable literature and reduced to uncouth meanings) was once considered sacred and important and was performed around this time.
LIFE AND HOLI –
Life becomes a celebration. Burning the past, you gear up for a new beginning. Your emotions, like fire, burn you. But when they are a fountain of colours, they add charm to your life. In ignorance, emotions are a bother; in knowledge, the same emotions add colour.
Each emotion is associated with a colour — anger with red, jealousy with green, vibrancy and happiness with yellow, love with pink, vastness with blue, peace with white, sacrifice with saffron and knowledge with violet.
Like Holi life should be colourful, not boring. When each colour is seen clearly, it is colourful. When all the colours get mixed, you end up with black. So also in life, we play different roles. Each role and emotion needs to be clearly defined.
INTERNATIONAL EQUIVALENTS TO HOLI –
ITALY – The festival of “Radeca” celebrated in month of February is very similar to “Holi” (Effigy of Chammpionnate is burned).
FRANCE – Normandy is a place where equivalent of Holi is seen. Here statues from dry grass are made and burnt from all sides with loud shouts of scolds and curses
GERMANY- During Easter, twigs and sticks are collected near a wooden pillar at set ablaze. Children have a fun day by smearing color on each other.
SWEDEN/NORWAY -During birth anniversary of St. John, people gather at a common place and have bonfire around which they merrily dance, sing wishing each other health and prosperity
SIBERIA -Siberians sings and dance over a bonfire holding each others hands celebrating the advent of summer
USA – The festival of Halloween on 31st October can be co-related to rites of Holi.
Holi is also called the Spring Festival – as it marks the arrival of spring the season of hope and joy. The gloom of the winter goes as Holi promises of bright summer days. Nature too, it seems rejoices at the arrival of Holi and wears its best clothes. Fields get filled with crops promising a good harvest to the farmers and flowers bloom colouring the surroundings and filling fragrance in the air.
It is said the spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions participate in this joyous and colouful festival and strenthen the secular fabric of the nation.