Holi is the wonderful festival of colour, celebrated all over India in different and colourful ways. The festival of Holi has a number of legends attached to it. Here are some.
When the demon king Hiranyakashyap wanted to kill his son, Prahlad because he would only worship Lord Narayan, and not his father, and was not able to kill him, he asked his sister Holika to kill Prahlad. Holika had a boon that she would not be harmed by fire. So she took Prahlad in her lap, and entered the fire. However, she didnt realize that her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlad, the devotee, by chanting the name of Lord Narayan, was saved by the Lord. For this, on the night before Holi, is celebrated Holika Dahan, the symbolic fire burning the demoness Holika.
Another legend is that on this day, Lord Shiva burned Kaamdeva, the God of love, to ashes. Lord Shiva had gone into deep meditation following the self-sacrifice of Goddess Sati. However, the Cosmic plan was that Lord Shiva should marry Goddess Parvati, so Lord Kartikeya be born, to defeat Tarakasur, who could only be defeated by Lord Shiva’s son. To break Lord Shiva’s meditation, Kaamdeva shot his arrow, to create in Lord Shiva, an interest in romantic companionship. Lord Shiva, angered by this, opened His eye of Wisdom and burned Kaamdeva to ashes. This is symbolic wisdom destroying desire. This happened on this day. Later, at the pleas of Devi Rati, Kaamdeva’s consort, Lord Shiva restored Kaamdeva back to life.
Another legend has it that the demoness Dhundhi, who had a boon that she could not be killed by God or man. However, she was also cursed that she would be in danger from young boys running amok. The king Raghu consulted the priests about how to handle the menace of Dhundhi, and the priests advised that young boys, creating a fire on a specific auspicious day, and going around the fire thrice and then laughing, singing, and dancing, would kill the demoness by the noise of their pranks. Well, so it was, and so the demoness was killed, and since then, young boys are allowed to use rude words and play pranks on the day of Holi, without anyone taking offence. In fact, Banaras has a tradition of abuse on this day.
Holi is also the favourite festival of Lord Krishna, who, along with His friends, the cowherds, would throw colour and water on Radha and Her friends. They would go to Radha’s village of Barsana to play with colours and celebrate the festival of Holi, and the women-folk of Barsana would wield sticks to protect the girls of the village from the boys of Mathura. They would beat the boys over their heads with heavy sticks, while the boys used shields to protect themselves. This celebration of Holi is still prevalent in Barsana. Have a look!
Of course, the Holi celebrations are incomplete without some classic humour, some which we have found coming from stalwarts like Shail Chaturvedi, Ashok Chakradhar, Kaka Hathrasi, Surendra Sharma …