Holi Festival ~ Riot of Colours
Holi, the Festival of Colours, is one of the major festivals in India. It signifies the end of winter and welcomes the spring. People smear each other with coloured powder and splash water. The colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi and Bilva, and various other medicinal herbs. It is believed that, smearing with coloured powder has medicinal significance. People also believe that the bright colours represent energy, life and joy. It is originally known as “Holika”, an ancient festival of India. This was a festival that is as much a gateway to celebrate the arrival of spring as much as it is a way to celebrate the season of love.
There are many legends on Holi. One among many stories is a story of everlasting love between Lord Krishna and Radha. Krishna, being the mischievous child of Yasotha, was a prankster, and was also the creator of many legends for himself. He once asked his mother, why is Radha fair and he dark in complexion. Mother Yasotha replied to him saying, “If you are jealous of Radha’s colour then go and put dark colours on her and she will also turn dark like you”. Lord Krishna went ahead and smeared colours on Radha. Since then each lover usually puts colour on his or her beloved to pay homage to Lord Krishna.
In the state of Tamil Nadu, people worship Lord Kaamathevan for his supreme sacrifice on the occasion of Holi. People know Holi by three different names - Kaman Pandigai, Kamavilas, and Kama Dahanam. People of Tamil Nadu have great faith in Lord Shiva and Lord Kaamathevan. The story is that, Lord Shiva went into deep meditation after the death of his consort Sati. Due to Lord Shiva’s indifferent attitude, the other gods became tensed and worried. Meanwhile, the daughter of the mountain Goddess Paarvathi started to meditate to get Lord Shiva as her husband.
The gods sought help of Lord Kaamathevan in order to get Lord Shiva back to his original state. Kaamathevan is a god of Love. He was well aware of the repercussions of such an act, but Lord Kaamathevan agreed to help. Lord Kaamathevan shot his powerful arrow on Lord Shiva, while he was meditating. Enraged Lord Shiva opened his third eye and burnt Lord Kaamathevan into ashes. However, the arrow had the desired effect and Lord Shiva agreed to marry Parvathi.
But, Lord Kaamathevan’s wife Rathi felt very sad and she told her sad story to Lord Shiva and requested him to revive her husband Lord Kaamathevan. Lord Shiva listened to her story and agreed to her request.
In Tamil Nadu songs are sung on Holi depicting Rathi’s extreme sorrow. People offer sandalwood to Lord Kaamathevan to ease the pain of burning. People also believe that Lord Kaamathevan was revived on the day of Holi and celebrate the festival in his name.
This is a colourful festival celebrated with much joy and fervour all over North India. The Holi festival is the most carefree festival celebrated by people of all age groups. White colour dresses are the preferred choice on this day. Folk songs and dances are also important features of the festival.
The Indian Council for Cultural relations in association with COLIND (Colombo Indian Expat community) and Mount Lavinia Hotel organized this year’s Holi festival which was recently celebrated on the hotel’s Paradise beach. The beach was turned into a colourful spread while Masaala waffles to Taco Chaats added flavour to the festival.