Hiranyakashipu received a boon from Lord Brahma that made him immortal. This boon made him arrogant and he felt he was God, and urged people to worship him.
Colors, dance, music, sweets and bhaang!
It is time for Holi – the festival of colors that heralds the arrival of spring. This ancient Hindu festival has been celebrated since ages in India. People celebrate Holi with much fervor and glee. This unique festival of colours has several legends in its roots.
The Legend of Prahalad’s Victory Over Holika
The word “Holi” is derived from “Holika” – the evil sister of Hiranyakashipu, the king of demons. Hiranyakashipu received a boon from Lord Brahma that made him immortal.
This boon and power made him arrogant and began forbidding people from believing in the divine power. Instead he felt he was God, and urged people to worship him.
However his own son – Prahalad defied him. He was an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu. After several failed attempts to dissuade his son from worshiping Lord Vishnu, Hiranyakashipu finally took the help of his sister Holika who was blessed with a cloak (shawl) that made her immune to any harm from fire.
He asked Prahalad to sit on a pyre in Holika’s lap. As the flames grew hotter, the shawl flew from Holika and instead enveloped Prahalad. Holika burned and died whereas Prahalad survived. Since then, Holi is celebrated to mark the victory of good over evil.
The Legend of the Divine Love of Radha and Krishna
In Mathura and Vrindavan especially, Holi is celebrated to mark the love of Radha and Krishna. It is said, that when Lord Krishna was young, he often complained to his mother Yashoda about his dark skin against Radha’s fair complexion.
So mother Yashoda suggested to him that he could smear color on Radha’s face and change her complexion to his liking. This playful smearing of colours on friends led to the festival of colors.
The Legend of Lord Shiva and Kamadev
Another legend goes that Lord Shiva burnt Kamadev into ashes when he tried to end Shiva’s penance. On the plea of Kamadev’s wife Rati, Lord Shiva restored him but only in an invisible form. This legend is especially popular in South India and sandalwood paste is offered to Kamadev on Holi.
Holi is celebrated with different traditions in different states. But the spirit of the Holi remains the same – full of fervor and gaiety..!!
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