Holi is a festival of colors. In North India, this festival is celebrated with great pomp and extremely joyfully by playing with colored water. At night, huge bundles of wood are burnt as a mark of burning down evil. People hail out ‘Holi-hai’ to each other. The spirit of this festival is felt in the fact that there remain no barriers of rich or poor, big or small, caste or creed, while people get together in great numbers on the streets to play with colors. There are no restrictions on this day and people gather in huge numbers, singing and dancing with joy. People play practical jokes with each other, even passers-by. A bonfire is lit and even games representing the frolics of Lord Krishna are enacted around it.
Hindu festivals like Holi hold great spiritual significance and even create faith in God. They divert us from sensual pleasures and take us to the spiritual path and divine communion. People even offer the new grains which have been harvested to God by performing a Havan. Apart from sprinkling colors on each other, this festival is even marked by singing hymns in the name of God, performing charity to the poor and by remembering the delightful pastimes of the Lord.
During the festival of Holi, Lord Krishna is worshipped predominantly. In many places, it is also called the ‘Dol-yatra’ where ‘Dol’ means a swing where Lord Krishna, as a baby, is placed in a little swing cradle and decorated with flowers and painted with colored powders. It marks the commemoration of the innocent frolics of Lord Krishna with the Gopis of Vrindavan while Holi songs are sung with great enthusiasm.
Holi is one if the great Hindu festivals which holds great religious, social and hygienic elements. It is the festival of the spring season marking the harvesting of the grains of the farmer, thereby giving them a reason to celebrate as they enjoy the fruits of their hard labor. The harvest season marks festivity all across the world. Holi is one such festival which acts as a stress buster after the hard work and toil of humans, thereby supplying real food and tonic for restoring cheer and peace of mind in our lives.
Holi even unites and embraces the great and small, the rich and the poor; it is hence the uniting of equals. It teaches us to ‘let the dead bury the dead.’ It teaches us to forgive and forget and move in in life with feelings of love, sympathy, co-operation and equality for one and all.
Another meaning of ‘Holi’ is sacrifice. It marks the burning of impurities of the mind like ego, lust and vanity through the fire of devotion and knowledge. The fire of yogic practice helps ignite cosmic love, mercy, selflessness, generosity, truthfulness and purity. This marks the true spirit of the festival of Holi. Rising from the mire of stupidity and absurdity and diving into the ocean of divinity is what this festival ignites in each of us.
Although Holi is the festival of fun, frolic, colors, pranks and so on, we should never indulge in nefarious activities during this time. One should refrain from drinking intoxicating liquids and falling unconsciously on the road, indulging in obscene speech, wasting their hard earned money on drinking and dice-playing. These activities should be kept at bay. The spirit of this colorful festival is to keep the blaze of God’s love shining in our hearts. It is the inner illumination and the manifestation of the Lord which makes this festival complete and wholesome.