LET US CELEBRATE “HOLI” IN REAL SENSE
B.K. Bhagwan, Shantivan
Festivals in India are caste-oriented. Each caste adopts its own customs, usages and festivals according to its own imperatives. Raksha Bandhan for instance, is the festival of Brahmins since it is symbolic of the pledge of purity. Brahman was the top caste and Brahmins were regarded as the tower of purity. Dasehara festival was concerned with Kshatriyas as they had a fighting trait and tendency indicative of chivalry. Deepawali was regarded as the festival of Vaishyas who worship goddess Laxmi for wealth. Holi was regarded as the festival of Shudras. But this distinction has now vanished and the festivals are celebrated by all Hindus irrespective of caste and creed. However, we definitely miss a spiritual dimension in these various Hindu festivals. They are simply celebrated in ritualistic and routine manner devoid of real spirit.
India has a rich spiritual heritage, and so we should not lose sight of the fact that every Hindu festival has a spiritual import hidden in it. Regarding Holi festival a story goes that there was a demon Hiranyakashyap a ruler who claimed to be God. He enjoyed a Vardan of invulnerability. His son Prahlad refused to accept him as God, the Almighty. Consequently He had to suffer harassment and torture at the hands of his father, the self styled Almighty. At the behest of her father one-day, Prahlad’s sister Holika, who enjoyed the Vardan of being fireproof, sat with Prahlad on fire. But Lo! Holika was burnt to ashes while Prahlad remained unaffected. Holi festival is celebrated to commemorate this mythological event. But it is a mere fable. Spiritually speaking, when there is extreme decadence of religion, God-Father. the supreme soul, descends to this corporeal world from his incorporeal abode called Param-Dham and through the corporeal medium of a Kaliyugi person whom he names as Brahma liberates human souls from the clutches of five vices symbolized by Maya-Ravana. He calls upon vice-stricken human souls to celebrate bon fire of vicious tendencies and devilish deeds. This is the spirit behind Holi festival.
On the eve of this auspicious gathering cakes of cowdung are burnt. This ritual is symbolic of the process of soul purification and universal brotherhood developing brotherly affection.
Some regard this eve as the devil–destruction–festival indicative of liberating souls from thralldom of Maya-Ravana. The word Holika connotes bakes food and so the custom is to bake barley, wheat. The spirit behind is to burn one’s sins in the fire of meditation (Yogagni). There is yet another custom to sprinkle coloured water and gulal on other persons. This is symbolic of the fact that God-Father, the supreme soul–showers colour of spiritual knowledge on human souls and thereby enables them to have holy communion with Him.
For the sake of fun and frolic, on this occasion a caricature of Trideo–Brahma, Vishnu and Shanker–is displayed. The underlying concept this is that when God incarnates on to this earth for rehabilitating the almost vanished Dharma, then He performs his duty of creating a righteous world through these three deities. For fun on this day some body is made to look bulky by wrapping cloth on his stomach and he is asked what is there in his belly. Then he says, ‘Musal’. In response, people remark ridiculously, ‘let your tribe destroy’, really speaking this custom connotes that at the fag end of Kaliyug when the third world war or Mahabharat looms large, the scientists invent destructive weapons like missiles (called Musal in scriptural parlance).
It is, therefore, necessary to realise the real spirit hidden in this festival and to celebrate in that spirit so that we are able to shake off devilish tendencies. The festival enjoins on us not only to get ourselves imbued with the colour of Godly Knowledge but also to do same for others. Holi means pure, to become holy by being near and dear to God. It is this purity which will usher in the Golden Age or Satyug. At this fag–end of Kaliyug, the supreme soul is actually sprinkling colour of Spiritual Knowledge and meditation on many souls through service centres. Other souls are also invited to join us in this colourful spree and thereby celebrate Holi in true spirit. Best wishes to all on this occasion.