Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Celebrating Colors in Life with Holi

The rainbow has seven colors 
Our seven chakras have seven different colors
God created so many fruits, vegetables, flowers in so many colors. 
We wear clothes in colours depending on our moods. 
So we celebrate colors every moment in our lives. To remind us that life is very colorful, we celebrate holi. In the north, on this day people dissolve all their differences by pouring water and color over eachother and come together with colors. 

Holi is one of my favourite festivals. In school days this festival would always come in between my exams (especially the toughest subject) on the very next day. Therefore, appa and amma did not want me to be in water for too long and I would have strict timings to return home. The celebrations would start one day in advance in the evening with a bonfire. This bonfire is the burning of 'Holika' - Holika was the sister of King Hiranyakashipu, who was brought to kill Bhakta Prahlada. However, Prahlada was firm in his bhakti to Lord Narayana which saved him and Holika was burnt into ashes. Bhakta Prahlada's story is one of the most famous associated with the festival of Holi. 

There was a society with lots of children close to my home, so I used to often land up there with a bag full of water balloons. Generally by knotting these balloons a day earlier I used to hurt by thumb. It was a deal betweem amma and me, the more lessons I would complete or the more number of hours put in study on the earlier day, the balloon dozens  would increase so that I could aim at my friends. Often we used to split ourselves in two teams. These balloons were used to aim our opponents during the so called '' Holi Masti''. Once the balloons were over, the aunties in the building poured lot of water from their balconies, we all used to  drench ourselves in it. Finally came the red colored gulal which would be smeared all over your body. If you resist this coloring from all friends, you are sure that your hair would be colored with this!! Generally after this festival for days together you would not need a hail coloring to be done. The hands also retain the colors for weeks together. By afternoon all of would be tired and we would order samosas for snack. Most of us were below 18 and we couldnt consume 'Baang', so we used to settle for a simpler version of  thandai and some sweets. 

Traditionally, people played with chandan, haldi, neem, bilva and natural colors. However over the years the use of chemicals have caused lot of skin problems with people , so they refrain from playing. Now the natural colors are marketed by companies for playing holi very safely. Holi is also a festival inviting the scorching heat of summer, giving a message to all the people to keep their body and mind cool and calm at all times. Earlier Ayurvedic doctors prepared these colors with natural agents which acted as a coolant for the body. 

In recent times, with too many townships evolving in India, Holi is celebrated by event management companies in a grand way. There is rain dance with the rain technology which is used in movies to shoot rain scenes. There would be a DJ (Holi Jockey) who would play the latest hindi songs for which people would drench themselves in water and then dance. In some big groups, there are also corporate sponsorships invited for Holi. The HR team in all companies organise a special event of Holi for employees as part of their employee engagement initiatives. T - Shirts and goodies like pichkari (Spray) are specially made for corporate holi. The television and radio would showcase some of the popular songs shot on Holi. '  Rang Barse' being one of the most popular Hindi song. 

Festivals add spark to your life and sadhana (spiritual practices) . On this day it is basically colors, water, sweets, dance and celebration in India. The Holi day is also a Holy day (if not a holiday this time in office because of recession) for soaking oneself in spiritual knowledge after the color masti!!

                         Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar playing holi in Bangalore Ashram