Holi – the festival of colors, is celebrated with much pomp and vigor in India. The idea of water balloons, gulal, pichkaris thrill every kid and adult even today! This festival infuses a sense of hope and joy into the hearts of all. The bright colors and the overall merriment give rise to positive energy.
Holi marks the beginning of spring. But why do we celebrate this joyous festival? How did it come into being? These are a few questions we are going to unfold in this article. Read on to find out about the various myths and legends associated with the emergence of Holi.
Origin of Holi
Holi dates back to ancient mythological incidents. Hindu scriptures bear evidence of stories and excerpts that resonate with the festival of love and colors. We might never verify the element of truth in these age-old tales, but that’s what makes mythology even more intriguing.
Among the plethora of tales linked with Holi, or Dol, we will tell you the three most well-known and popular origin stories:
● The Legend of Vishnu
In the Bhagavata Purana, we find the story of Lord Vishnu and Hiranyakashipu- the king of Asuras or demons who had earned a boon that gave him immense power. But this boon gave rise to extreme pride in the demon king, and he started to consider himself immortal and equal to God. He forced everyone in his state to worship him alone, and anyone who did otherwise was subject to torture.
His son, Prahlada, however, did not conform to his rules and ardently worshipped Lord Vishnu. This act of defiance angered the tyrant king, and he decided to kill Prahlada with his sister Holika’s help. Holika possessed a cloak that made her immune to fire. Wearing this cloak, she tricked Prahlada to sit on a pyre with her. As the flames rose higher, the cloak flew from her body and engulfed the boy. He emerged out of the fire unharmed, but Holika burnt to ashes.
Later, as a symbolic victory of good over evil, Holika-Dahan or Holi came to be celebrated by lighting bonfires.
● The Legend Radha-Krishna
Putana poisoned the infant Krishna by feeding him her breastmilk. The poison gave him a dark complexion. Later in his youth, Krishna feared that Radha would not like him owing to his dark skin, so he convinced her to put any color of her choice on his face. Radha compiled, and since then, Holi is celebrated as the festival of love.
On this day, friends and relatives gather together and smear bright powdered colors on each other’s faces.
● The Legend of Kamadeva
This legend takes us back to Shiva and his wife, Parvati. To wake Shiva from his long and arduous meditation on Vasant Panchami, Parvati took Kamadeva’s help. The God of love shot arrows at the meditating yogi, who flashed open his third eye and burnt Kamadeva to ashes.
The distressed Rati (Kamadeva’s wife) then began a severe meditation, which softened Shiva. After forty days, Shiva finally forgave Kamadeva and brought him back to life. Holi is therefore celebrated forty days after Vasant Panchami.
‘Dol’ or Holi is not a mere festival of fun and frolic. Its origin lies within the depths of Hindu mythology, which makes it all the more special. Especially after the pandemic struck year 2020, make sure you enjoy the day with your friends and family, spread these tales and let everyone know about the festival’s rich mythological relevance.