Festival of love, joy & harmony
CEO & President, Navika Group of Companies
Holi, the festival of vibrant colors, always brings special memories as we also welcome Spring. It is the soulful period of harmony, affection and joyful celebrations.
This year Holi is a great occasion to greet our community, which has shown resilience in the time of Covid and even come to the aid of the community at large in whichever way needed and possible.
For me, my family and the Rajasthan community, Holi usually is the best and boisterous time of the year. The Holi party organized by RANA (Rajasthan Association of North America) has been a calendar event on Long Island. I remember hosting Hasya poets/comedians at RANA and Navika Group’s Holi events. Hasya Kavi sammelan to celebrate Holi is actually a tradition in Rajasthan and other north Indian states, and now we have home-grown Hasya poets in the Indian community in America.
It is indeed a pleasure seeing a special edition on Holi. Thanks to The South Asian Times for preserving and promoting Indian traditions and festivals.
I wish a very happy and healthy Holi to all readers of the esteemed newspaper, The South Asian Times,
Hope to celebrate Holi as we used to, again sometime soon.
When colors of India come to life!
Chair, Diwali Foundation USA
India and colors can’t be separated. You have to be fortunate to grow up in India, experiencing the vibrant and colorful festivals, street dancing, fire crackers, loud noises of drums and so many people participating. Holi is one of those festivals where colors come to life.
The Hindu festival dates back to the 4th century CE. Holi the festival of colors is also the festival of spring, and of love and peace. It celebrates the arrival of a good harvest season.
In India the celebration starts by throwing colors on others all day long. Anyone and everyone is fair game… friends or strangers, men or women, and children and elders. The frolic and fight with colors occur in the open streets, parks, outside temples, and at homes. Groups carrying drums and other musical instruments go from place to place, singing and dancing. Friends and foes play, laugh and gossip over food and drinks. Bhang, made from cannabis, is customary. Then in the evening, people dress up and visit friends and family, ending the day over dance and food.
The legend of the evil king Hiranyakashipu and his defiant son Prahlad is well known. Prahlad’s unshakeable faith in God saved him while his aunt Holika’s powers were dissipated and she burned in the fire. At which point, Lord Vishnu appeared in the avatar of Narsimha and killed Hiranyakashipu. This is why Holi begins with Holika dahan (bonfire), which marks the end of evil. People throw roasting grains, popcorns, coconuts and chickpeas onto the bonfire and sing and dance around the fire. This year Holika dahan is on March 28 and Holi on the 29th.
Holi also celebrates Lord Krishna. The legend has it that the boy Krishna had developed a characteristic blue skin color, after Putana the demon poisoned him with her breast milk. Krishna was afraid that the very fair Radha and her friends would never like him because of his complexion. So, his mother suggested to him to approach Radha and smear her face with any color he wanted. This playful prank gradually became a tradition and a festival starting in the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh.
Customs and rituals differ across regions in India. In Maharashtra, it is the time of “Matki Phod”. People climb on top of each other to form a human pyramid to reach a pot full of buttermilk hung at a height. Whoever reaches the top and breaks the pot is named the Holi King of the year. In Punjab, Sikhs revel in colors on Hola Mohalla, which is celebrated a day after Holi. In Vrindavan, estranged and widowed women immerse themselves in colors.
Traditionally the colors used in Holi came from flowers and herbs – which in the hot climate of India tend to produce bright natural dyes. But today, they’re usually not organic. Colors have their significance. Blue is the spiritually complex color of the gods, green is the color of nature and happiness, yellow is associated with the merchants and red is considered auspicious.
Amazingly, Indian culture celebrates the perpetual battle between Good and Evil. It starts with Holi in springtime, and again at Diwali between fall and winter. The subtle message within Hinduism – applicable to all humanity, not just in the United States after 9/11 – is that one has to always be on alert, in order to beat evil. Only then can we achieve the necessary victory of good over evil and enjoy life to the fullest.
Playing postdated Holi in May
Real Estate Broker
Holi, a festival of colors, is celebration of victory of good over evil, and represents love, friendship, and brotherhood. In the United States, a large number of Hindus welcome people from other communities and get together to celebrate Holi in temples or private venues. Holi is becoming a global festival.
This year is super special for all upcoming festivals because now we have to mesh our tradition with new norms. I am looking forward to playing postdated Holi in May, because by then most of us will be vaccinated and it will be safer to celebrate Holi in groups with friends and family.
To keep the festival spirits alive, these get-togethers help the new generation to identify with their cultural roots while learning and understanding the significance of celebrating festivals. I love colors and always have great enthusiasm for Holi. This festival has me looking forward to it all year long, not only to celebrate my culture but also to educate more people about this and get them involved and interested in this beautiful, colorful festival.
We have to come back with full spirits and enthusiasm to celebrate this colorful festival. Also teach our children the values of Indian culture for them to stay close to our motherland and her rich Sanskriti.
Mother nature also has a beautiful way to celebrate Holi with blooming colorful flowers in the name of Spring season.
Invoking the sweet life
MangoTree Real Estate Holdings
Holi’s significance from our ancient Vedic roots – a festival for unwinding and rejuvenation – is quite appropriate for dealing with modern stress.
There is a popular Vedic folk song, and its first line is इदम्मधु इदम्मधु, meaning, “this life is honey and sweet.” During the Vedic period, it was customary to perform “Yajna,” which expressed our gratitude for the bounties and blessings of mother nature. In addition to giving thanks, the intent of Yajna was to reinforce the belief that we must coexist with nature and nurture it as opposed to exploiting it. One specific type of Yajna is known as SomYajna, and the most auspicious day for celebrating it fell on Holi as the festival would be on the full moon of the Falgun month as per Indian calendar. Chaitra and Vaishakh, the first two months are also known as Madhu (sweet) and Madhav (Krishna) – meaning that the way to reach God is to have a sweet life. The SomYajna was named after the offering of Somras, which was extracted from vines of the Som plant. This Somras was so potent and delicious that Vedic people consumed it to achieve immortality. This Yajna was performed as worship to Prajapati, son of lord Brahma. Right next to the seat of Yajna, they would plant a branch of Cluster Fig, or Gular tree. The fruit of this fig tree is so sweet that it attracts insects just as it ripens. Symbolically, it means that the one who consistently engages in duty gets the sweet results. In Sanskrit, this translates to चरन् वै मधु विन्देत चरन्स्वादुमुदुम्बरम्. Besides the Yajna site, there were musicians who would play instruments and women who would sing with earthen pots filled with water. One of these sweet songs is the one I mentioned earlier इदम्मधु इदम्मधु. The spirit behind this function was to emphasize work and achievements as well as the significance of rejuvenation in the form of celebrating with dance and music. Holi reminds us to burn all our worries and celebrate with colors and laugh. Let life be sweet each and every day.
Translated from Hindi article by Dr. Vivek Chaurasia, Puranic literature expert based in Ujjain, MP.
Fill others’ life with colors of happiness
Dr Neeru Bhambri
IALI and IDPUSA Official
The Happy Holi wish makes your life filled with the colors of infinite humanity and immense love. Holi is a fiesta of colors and a feast of sweets. It is a gala time of the year to meet your near and dear ones, who are close to our hearts, by splashing them with colors. It is blossoming of love, and laughter while for others forget and forgive and repair broken relationships.
Holi is celebrated during spring when new vibrant colors appear in nature. It symbolizes inclusiveness, new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil. Holi is celebrated by Hindus all over the world. It is so popular that related festivities have became major annual events around the world in such cities as New York and Melbourne. The story of Lord Krishna and Radha represents the fun and flirtatiousness of gods but also touches on deeper themes: of the passing of the seasons and illusory nature of the material world.
I personally adore this festival by sharing sweets of love and peace with our beloveds. Deep down in your mind and in your heart fill the color of affection and respect for all. The kids feel happy because it gives them the wings to fly in the air with all the colors like beautiful butterflies.
I recall beautiful memories of celebrations of this festival on various occasions. The closest to my heart is when I organized a special Holi function for young kids to promote our heritage and culture as Executive Member and Chair of IALI Kids Forum. The kids played a vital role and narrated beautiful stories. Their feelings and thoughts in their own words touched the hearts of all our guests. The colors used in Holi were organic and self-made. To make our colors, we used herbs, flowers and vegetables –such as beetroot, spinach, turmeric and indigo. We made spray bottles as pichkaris. Bright color, water spray bottles, lavish gujiyas and melodious songs were the main ingredients of our Holi festival. Trophies were given to two best participants for the Holi Essay.
I also remember the first Holi after the marriage of my son Dr Rahul Bhambri with Dr Malanie Bhambri. According to the family tradition all the married ladies wear pink sari with golden borders on this occasion. The mothers present the special sari to their daughters. The newly married couple greets all the family members with tikka and gujiyas. They also touch the feet of elders to take blessings for a happy married life.
Aside from enjoying to the hilt, at Holi time we learn the important life lesson of how to mend our mistakes and stop harboring hatred. The true meaning of Holi lies in filling someone’s life with colors of happiness. Life is too short and we can truly infuse color in each other’s life by sharing and caring.
My Message is: May God paint the canvas of your life with the most beautiful colors. May he sprinkle peace, luck, success, and joy at every step. Reach out to others with the same rainbow colors of joy and spread happiness wherever you go.