What Is Holi?
This festival is one that many of us look forward to- Being part of our rich Indian history, it gives us the chance to reminisce our good old childhood days. As the flowers blossom, the ‘festival of spring’ is marked by the understanding that good will always triumph over evil- Holi is celebrated over a day and a night over which Holika Dahan or Choti Holi occurs the first evening, followed by Holi the next day. This year Choti Holi falls on March 28th and Holi on March 29th. This occasion is not just relishing sweets like laddus, malpua, gujiya and puran poli. (But who can resist?). It is embedded in our culture, the legends of which are whispered in young one’s ears from generation to generation.One such story begins with Holika, which is why for a significant time it was referred to as such. During this time, people perform rituals in front of a bonfire to symbolize the burning of the demoness Holika. She was the sister of the conceited king Hiranyakashyap, who wanted his entire kingdom to be devoted to him alone. When his son, Prahalad worshipped Lord Naarayana, the king ordered Holika to use her powers to burn him. This backfired and left her in ashes, which explains why Holi translates to ‘burning’.
Holi has come a long way from the depictions on the walls of temples all throughout India. Today, at around sunset, a pyre is lit to signify Holika Dahan. Everyone from every home in every city gathers on the streets with pichkaris (water guns) and gulaal (powdered dye) to smear all over each other. It is this that gives Holi the name, ‘Festival of Colours’.
But What Is The Significance Of These Colours?
What Do They Represent?
Here is what some of the colours could represent during this fun-filled time:
- Red represents love, beauty and fertility.
- Green symbolizes a harvest/ new beginnings.
- Yellow depicts gaining knowledge.
- Blue denotes Lord Krishna, the Hindu God.
Holi is also marked by the unique foods that are consumed during this time. People exchange sweets as a gesture of goodwill. They eat everything from barfis to dahi vada and namkeen. Traditionally, thandai and bhang are some of the main beverages of the season. Apart from all the exciting games and delicacies, there are ways in which we fall short. It has become an opportunity for capitalism, where colours are made with low-quality toxic chemicals that are harmful to our health as well as the environment. We do not have to stick to these unhealthy practices of wasting unnecessary amounts of water and resources.
You can have just as much entertainment, without the negative impacts.
Tips To Have A Thrilling, Yet Safe Holi Celebration:
1. Use Chemical-Free Dyes
Replace toxic gulaal with naturally made powder. Various options can be used like those made from corn starch, rose petals and food dyes. You can make your own rendition at home or look up brands that sell herbal products. This is better for the environment as well as for your skin.
2. Use Oils For Protection
Protect your skin and hair by applying a natural oil or an organic cream to it. It will not only prevent rashes if you have sensitive skin, but also helps the colour come off easily.
3. Never Throw Colours On Plants Or Animals
This is a regrettable occurrence many of us will have witnessed during this time. Avoid spreading colour on these innocent creatures as it may cause allergic reactions in them. Have fun with your friends and family instead!
4. Eat A Healthy Meal
Get all the strength you need to play to the fullest. Load up on the fruits and veggies to pump you full of vitamins and minerals that boost your energy levels. Doing this may also prevent you from falling ill while you are soaked with chilling water.
5. Drink Plenty Of Water
Running around with your friends in the sun could cause dehydration and sunburn. Ensure you consume sufficient amounts of water to prevent these disadvantages. The quantities of water going on you externally should be synonymous with that going internally.