The festival of colours, Holi, marks spring’s arrival. It is the festival of bonding. Everyone gets coloured in everyone else’s colour. The charm of the festival lies in that variety of colours itself. It usually occurs during Phalgun, a Bengali month, on a Full Moon day. “Kanji” and “Bhang” are two drinks specific to the festival. While Kanji is served to anyone who comes wishing on our doorsteps on the day, Bhang is a paste of cannabis leaves and such into some kind of food or drink and gives you a safe high to compliment your fun in the festival.
People pray for their families’ happiness, peace, and prosperity. During the Holika Dahan part of the festival, a bonfire consisting of dry twigs and branches and such other wastes is lit up, after deciding upon an auspicious time. Also, when the festival is celebrated the fields are in full bloom and harvest is on its way. People pray to the Gods for a good harvest as well.
Holi- the festival:
As legend has it, the festival of Holi is based on a story portraying the triumph of Good over Evil. Once there was a King named Hirannakashyap, who wanted his people to worship him. He was the kind of the Asuras and the Daityas, the literal meaning of his name being “clothed in Gold.” However, his son was a devotee of Lord Vishu.
The King could not stand the idea of it and attempted many times to make him understand otherwise. As one of his final attempts, the ruthless king sent his sister Holika, who was blessed by the Gods to be immune to fire, to kill Prahlad, his son and a blind devotee of Lord Vishnu. Holika sat with Prahlad in the middle of a raging fire plotting that she would survive while the boy perished. However, the boon was applicable only when she was to be touched by fire alone. Using this loophole, Lord Vishu protected Prahlad, saving him from the fire, while Holika died in her self made conspiracy. Hirannakashyap too was then killed by another incarnation of Lord Vishnu, known as Narasimha.
Since then, people light a bonfire on the eve of the festival, representing the death of Holika, symbolic of Good’s victory over Evil. The day after is celebrated as Holi.
Holika Dahan and Holi timings:
Astrologically speaking, the Holika Dahan festival is not to be started before sunset. It is to be started only at a particular time after the sunset on Purnima tithi. The ideal time would be at Pradoshkal, the time when day and night are said to meet. The celebration signifies Holika, Hirannakashyap’s sister’s, death, symbolic of Good’s win over the Evil.
- Holika Dahan Muhurta – 18:22 to 20:49
- Bhadra Punchha – 09:37 to 10:38
- Bhadra Mukha – 10:38 to 12:19
- Rangwali Holi – 10th March
- Purnima Tithi Begins – 03:03 (9th March)
Once Holika Dahan is completed, the next day, everyone gets busy to get died in each other’s colours, just for once forgetting the diversity that they are. By afternoon the festival comes to an end after which meals are prepared for the evening and the night that is to come. Holi is celebrated throughout the country just in ways and names that are different from each other, keeping the vibe the same.