RAMESH SAVAIKAR | NT NETWORK
Holi is a two-day long Hindu festival that marks the arrival of spring. It is a festival of colours and is a celebration of fertility and love. It also signifies the triumph of good over evil. In some communities, Holi is seen as a festival for farmers seeking blessings for a fertile land and a good harvest.
Apart from this, Holi is also known as a festival of love as according to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna used to play Holi with Radha. According to Hindu mythology, the festival is also a celebration of the death of the demon Pootna who attempted to kill Krishna when he was a small child. Pootna signifies winter and darkness.
It is celebrated throughout the country and is especially popular in North India, in places related to Lord Krishna. In fact in Jaipur, Holi is celebrated with an elephant festival with activities which include an elephant parade, beauty contest for elephants, etc.
The festival is held on full moon day in the Hindu month of Falguna, usually this is in March. This year Holi will be celebrated on Wednesday, March 20 and Dhulivandan will be on Thursday, March 21 ie the beginning of Vasantostav (spring season).
Festivities start on the evening of full moon day, called ‘Holika dahan’ ( chhoti Holi ) and carries on to the next day. Bonfires are lit up in the evening to burn away the evil spirit ie the burning of ‘Holika’- a mythological character.
In Goa, Holi being part of the Shigmo festival, in most villages, an areca nut or kokum tree or any other wood is cut after performing its pooja with religious rituals. The young and old then gather in procession to take the Holi tree to a temple in the village, accompanied by the sounds of dhols (drums) and kasale. The holi tree is then erected in front of the temple and the young stay awake the whole night to guard the holi at a place known as ‘maand’.
The night before holi, people gather in public places to sing and dance and to have fun near and around large bonfires. In some Goan villages, there is a tradition of taking five rounds around bonfires.
The next day is ‘Rangawali Holi’ or ‘Dhulivandan’ as it is known in Goa and Maharashtra. Being the first day of Vasant Rutu (spring season), it is also called ‘Vasantotsav’. On this day, young and old smear colours on friends and dear ones. Water ballons, dry colours, and washable dyes are used to douse just about anyone in sight on the road. People throw vivid powdered dye high into air and on each other.
Parades are brought out on the streets where people are seen dancing and singing to musical tunes. The festival of colours is an exciting and attractive Hindu holiday. It is an occasion to enjoy, play games, and be happy. It is joyous celebration of rejuvenation of nature and renewed hope of happiness and peaceful co-existence.