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Holi: The Festival Of Legends And Love

1061 words - 5 pages

One day while channel surfing I discovered a documentary on Holi. At the time I was too young to understand the full beauty of Holi but the bright colors peaked my interest and has stayed in the back of my mind since. It seemed that the festival was like color personified. Holi, also known as Holika, is a colorful festival celebrated in Northern India during the end of February or early March and lasts a day. During this time people dance and sing as they cover one another with colorful powders and colored water. During Holi, all are equals as everyone celebrates the triumph of good over equal just like in the “Legend of Holika and Prahalad”. Holi is a festival that is not only appealing to the eye but to the heart as well as it ties people together through legend and love.
Holi is said to have originated in the 7th Century in India and is inspired by the “Legend of Holika and Prahalad” (Holi festival.) In the legend Hiranyakashyap, the demon king, resents his son, Prahalad, because Prahalad will not worship him. Prahalad, a devotee to the god Vishnu, tries to make his father understand that only God is the “greatest” (BBC) and unintentionally enrages Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap planned various traps to murder his son but somehow Prahalad managed to come away unharmed. Frustrated by his failed attempts and of his son’s disloyalty, Hiranyakashyap conspires with his sister, Holika, to finally get rid of his son (BBC.) It was then decided that Holika would sit in a fire with Prahalad in her lap. Holika had a special gift that was supposedly given to her by the gods at birth, this gift was her immunity to fire. However, since Holika was using her gift in vain she was burned alive in the fire while Prahalad was protected by Vishnue. After the incident Vishnu killed Hiranyakashyap and Prahalad took over as ruler.
The Legend of Holika and Prahalad plays a huge role in the festival’s celebration. The festivals name was taken from the character Holika and means “fire.” During Holi evening bonfires better known as “Chhoti Holi” or “Small Holi” are lit as tribute to Prahalad’s victory over his aunt Holika. During the bonfires, oats and grain are thrown in the fires as offerings to Prahald and the ashes are then smeared on participants in the purifying ritual in hopes to have good health (Holi Festival.) Another important detail about these bonfires is the way in which they are created. Forty days before Holi a log of wood is put on display in a prominent area. As time goes on, people add dried leaves and twigs, eventually creating a large mound that is turned into a bonfire. Before the bonfire is lit a statue of Holika with Prahlad in her lap is placed atop the mound. The statue is usually made of combustible and noncombustible material (Holi Festival.) Holika’s figure is crafted with the combustible material while Prahlad is crafted with the noncombustible material. The bonfire is then lit for the entire night while festival...

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