Tuesday, March 10, 2009

History of Holi

Holi is one of the oldest Hindu festivals. Its reference can be found in religious scriptures and sculptures on walls of old temples. There are paintings, which show royal couple sitting on grand swing and maidens playing music and spraying colors on them. Whatever the scene and the theme, colors and mythology have always been an important part of these Holi depictions. However the most important myths and stories that have been associated with Holi are given below:

Story Of Radha and Krishna:

Lord Krishna was dark while his spiritual love-mate Radha had fair-complexion. So child Krishna often used to complain about the injustice of nature towards him to his mother Yashoda and would ask her the reason. One day, Yashoda suggested Krishna to apply color on Radha's face and changeher complexion in any color he desired. The naughty Krisha immediately set off to his mission and one can often see paintings and murals depicting Krishna throwing colors on Radha and other 'gopis'. This lovable prank of throwing colored powder and water jets called 'pichkaris' soon gained favor with the people and it evolved into the tradition of Holi. This is the reason that people often carry images of Krishna and Radha through the streets. The Holi of Mathura region, where Krishna was born, has a special fervor.

Story of Dhundhi:

It was there was an ogress called Dhundi who used to scare and trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She has many boons, which made her almost invincible but due to a curse from Lord Shiva, she was susceptible to the shots, abuses and pranks of village boys. It is believed that on Holi day, these children united and made combined efforts to chase away Dhundi by shouting at her, abusing her and playing pranks on her and finally succeeded in their mission. This is the reason that young boys are allowed to use rude words on this day without anybody taking offence.

Story Of Holika and Prahlad:

There was a demon-king named Hiranyakashipu who won over the kingdom of earth and ordered everybody to worship him and not the God. However, his little son Prahlad refused to do so and continued to worship the almighty Lord Vishnu, the Hindu God. He tried many times to kill him but Lord Vishnu saved him every time. One of the sisters of the king named Holika had powers to walk through fire unharmed. Thus he ordered her to kill Prahlad by walking through the fire with him. However, Lord Vishnu came to his help and Prahlad was saved while Holika perished. Somehow, she didn't knew that her powers were only effective if she entered the fire alone. Even today, bonfires are lit on the night of Holi in memory of the event and burning of the wicked aunt Holika.

Story Of Kamadeva:

After the death of his consort Sati, Lord Shiva was so shocked and hurt that he went into a deep meditation and stopped looking after his worldly responsibilities. This led to many complications in the world's affairs. Thus, gods conspired to bring him out of his trance with the help of Goddess Parvati, who wished to marry the great lord and Kamadeva, the God of love, passion and lust. Though, mindful of the consequences, Kamadeva undertook the task for the world's good and shot one of his love arrows on the great Lord who had mastered all the worldly temptations. As Shiva's eyes opened, he was furious by the trick of Kamdeva and directed the wrath of his third eye on him and burned him on the spot. However, later he did give him an immortal life. It is believed that Lord Shiva burned Kamadeva on the day of Holi and thus, many people worship him for his sacrifice and offer him a mango blossoms that he loved and sandalwood paste to cool off the pain of his fatal burns.

festivals.iloveindia.com - holi-legends

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