By Lalit Garg
The ultimate and immortal goal of this life is merging between devotee and God and becoming one color. That’s why Holi is the unique confluence of this soul and spirituality. Holi is a unique festival of getting drenched in the colors of love, mutual harmony, and fun.
Whether the colors of this festival have faded due to the pandemic or because of unsocial spirit, runaway, selfishness, and narrow-mindedness, there has been a change in the tradition of Holi. The storm of circumstances has also affected the happiness of Holi, yet when life seeks an excuse to present the fun and happiness in itself, nature gives us a colorful festival like Holi.
The hallmark of Holi is that by celebrating it, we increase love, unity, and goodwill among the people by establishing human qualities in society. The spirit behind celebrating this festival is to enrich the dignity of human relationships, to give a new dimension to the recognition of life values.
Holi is such a festival, for which not only the mind but also nature is ready to celebrate the spring. Holi has special significance not only from a religious point of view but also from a cultural point of view. Keeping the glorious tradition of this festival intact, let us create a conscious atmosphere where we are all one and remove the dirty layers of the mind so that all the faces reflected in the mirror of the undivided mind are ours. Despite the polluted environment, all the colors of life did not fade away. How naive are we that we are erasing our culture and ideal traditions?
After all, we are those people who have spread the gunpowder of their selfish interests on them by laying deep and long tunnels of hideous elements like violence, injustice, exploitation, terror, insecurity, kidnapping, corruption, anarchy, atrocities under the holy land of the country, without any thinking about the consequences, without looking at the possibilities of the future. Then how will the common man’s ideal be able to remain safe? In the midst of these dark and complicated situations, festivals like Holi make us ready to wait for our light and fulfill our wish for light.
It is said that love and hate are two sides of the same coin. Love is a feeling full of positivity and energy; on the contrary, hate is full of negativity and anger. Why does it happen that those whom we love at one time, we end up hating after some time? We have a loving relationship with many; the festival of Holi gives new dimensions and new colors to these relationships. We always want the happiness of those we love; there is no grudge or annoyance in our hearts. Having them in our life is enough for us. American author and thinker Daniel Cardwell says, “We always love with our hearts. On the contrary, the feeling of hatred emanates from the mind.’ Holi is a festival of feelings attached to the hearts. It refines the mind and soul.”
Holi of Braj is unique in the cultural tradition of the Holi festival. Braj’s Holi is special and unique. In other parts of the country Holi is celebrated for one or two days but in Braj Holi is celebrated for 50 days. In Braj, on the day of Basant Panchami, Holi sticks are planted at the places where mass Holi burns, and wood, sticks, etc. start gathering there. From Basant Panchami itself, Abir-Gulal is used in the decoration of God in the temples and the voices of drums start resonating. The drums start thumping on the Chaupals of the village, the cymbals and the strings are chirped and the reverberations of Holi are heard.
Holi has a special significance in the tradition of Indian classical music and folk music. The songs of Hindi films have also not remained untouched by the colors of Holi. A unique confluence of seven notes is seen with the colors of Holi! While playing with colors, happiness, love, and enthusiasm fills the mind and automatically the body and mind get excited to dance. It becomes difficult to stop the foot with the rhythm and cadence. The colors tell their effect, the melody and the rhythm go on immersing everyone in their melody!
Dhamar is closely related to Holi in classical music. The beauty of Holi songs can be seen in Dhrupad, Dhamar, Chhote, Bade Khayal, and Thumri too. Many beautiful bands performed on Holi, Dhamar, and Thumri along with Kathak dance are very popular even today – Chalo Guiniya Aaj Khele Hori Kanhaiya Ghar. Similarly, beautiful descriptions of Holi are also found in Dhrupad, another part of the music.
Various rich colors of Holi are also seen in the literature. Muslim poets like Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya, Amir Khusrau, and Bahadur Shah Zafar have also written beautiful compositions on Holi which are popular even today. In modern Hindi stories, Premchand’s Raja Hardol, Prabhu Joshi’s different matchsticks, Tejendra Sharma’s Holi once again, Om Prakash Awasthi’s Holi is auspicious and Swadesh Rana’s Holi will see different forms, dimensions, and perspectives of Holi.
Various types of sports are played in the festival of Holi, children bring wood and sticks from outside the village and pile them up. Holika is worshiped duly with full material; the sinful demons are destroyed by the hymns and chanting of mantras. Holika Dahan removes all evils. The huge adjustment of the festival of Holi has become a confluence of diversities in the changing environment, while celebrating this festival, it seems that after losing everything, the divided mind is standing alone in the hope of getting everything again.
In a way, this festival is a unique occasion to share happiness. Hiranyakashipu’s sister Holika had the boon of not burning in the fire. So she entered the fire with her nephew Prahlad in her lap. But by the grace of the Lord, Prahlad came out alive safely and Holika was burnt to ashes. Therefore, the festival of Holi symbolizes the ‘Victory of Truth over Untruth’ and ‘Victory of Virtue over Wickedness’. Thus the festival of Holi symbolizes the victory of truth, justice, devotion, and faith and also the destruction of injustice, sin, and demonic tendencies.
(The writer is a senior journalist and columnist based in New Delhi.)