All our festivals have a legend or folklore behind them. In ancient India, Hiranyakashyap, the demon king became so powerful that he started considering himself to be God. His son Prahlad, however, refused to treat his father like one and egoistic and snooty Hiranyakashyap decided to teach his son a lesson. He asked his sister Holika, who was blessed not to get singed by fire, to take Prahlad in her lap and walk into a burning pyre. Little did Hirnyakashyap or Holika realised that boon was hers if she were to walk into fire alone. As the story goes, Holika gets destroyed in fire, while pious Prahlad, who all along chanted Lord Vishnu’s name comes out unscathed. Like Dussehra or Diwali, Holi represents victory of good over evil or destruction of evil. Burning of Holika on the eve of Holi is practiced till date.
Of course, the colours of Holi owe their origin to Vrindavan and Mathura where Lord Krishna played Holi with flowers with his mates and gopis.
A festival that has its origin in such a pious and noble folklore and that finds mention in scriptures as being actively celebrated by Gods, unfortunately has become rowdiest of our religious festivals. Use of chemical paints, water balloons, wastage of water and Eve teasing and molestation under the garb of playing festival are commonly observed. People indulge in all sorts of unholy practices, making this extremely ancient and pious festival something that families and ladies like to eminently avoid. Gone are the days, when friendly banter amongst friends and families followed by consumption of Holi delicacies, especially Gujia ( patty filled with khoya and dry fruits) . An occasional glass of mild bhang would not harm anyone.
My friend’s travel company, Marvilla has adopted a unique way of greeting their patrons on festival days and I liberally borrow from their creativity. Their Holi message has been replicated below. Let me wish all my readers and friends a very happy, prosperous and clean Holi.