24 Feb

Top 5 Questions about Holi-The Festival of Colors

Holi is a major festival in India and most known as Festival of Colors celebrated all over India.
People send emails, text messages (sms) to wish Holi and use artificial (and sometimes natural – abir, gulaal) colors and meet our friends and relatives.

There prevails many stories behind the festival of Holi. The major was that of Holika and Bhakta Prahalad.

Here are Top 5 Questions you might be wondering about Holi.

1. Who actually was Hiranyakashipu?

Hmmm so it’s a story from Bhagavata Purana.

The Four Kumaras (Sons born from the mind or thought power of Brahma) were once visiting Lord Vishnu.
Jaya & Viajaya, the gate-keepers of Vaikuntha (abode of Lord Narayana) interrupted them to meet to Lord Vishnu.
Resulting in to the Four Kumaras’ curse to Jaya & Viajaya for giving up their divinity; be born on Earth, and live like normal human beings.
Now appears the Lord Vishnu, who gave the keepers two choices in reply of their request of lifting up the curses:
1. Take seven births on Earth as a devotee of Vishnu. OR
2. Take three births as his enemy.
Devotee keepers chose lesser time period to stay away from Vishnu and take birth as an enemy of Lord Vishnu for 3 births.

Life-1: Hiranyakashipu – Hiranyaksha.
Vishnu’s Varaha avatar kills Hiranyaksha.
Vishnu’s Narasimha avatar kills Hiranyakasipu.

Life-2: Ravana and Kumbhakarna
Vishnu’s Rama avatar took care of them [According to Hindu epic Ramayana during the Treta Yuga.]

Life-3: Sishupala and Dantavakra
Vishnu’s Krishna avatar killed them. [According Mahabharata epic during the Dwapara Yuga.]

2. If Prahalad was born to the Danava (Hiranyakashipu) home how he is so devotee of Vishnu?

When hirankashipu was doing extreme Tapa to achieve boons from Lord Brahma on mountain Mandara, Gods seek this opportunity to attack on Danava’s city.

Devendra (Indra) was finally dragging Kayadhu (Hiranyakashipu’s Wife) as a war prisoner to kill her child as he suspected him to be a Danava as well.

That was the time when Narada appeared before and explained the birth cause of Prahalad to Indra, ultimately Indra let go Kayadhu by touching her feet giving atmost respect wih Narada.

Narada took Kayadhu to his ashrama and taught her Bhagavata Dharma (The way of winning the love of God), when Prahalad was present in his mother’s womb.
And thus Prahalad become devotee of Lord Vishnu / Shri-Hari / Narayana.

3. Why holika died?

As per Hindu mythology Holika had a special gift that prevented her from being harmed by fire. But still she died due to severe burns in medical terms. But why?

The reasons I could found are either of these:

  • Vishnu stepped in and hence Holika burnt.
  • Holika’s power given by Brahma was on the understanding that “It can never be used to bring harm to anyone” – She broke the rule!
  • It were Holika’s clothes with anti-fire power which she gave them to Prahlad to save him, as she was internally a good person.
  • Holika wore a shawl that would protect her from fire. Holika wore it, took Prahlad down in her lap and the fire was lit. Now Lord Vishnu with his powers summoned a gust of wind which ultimately blew that shawl off of Holika on to Prahlad.

4. What was the boon Hiranyakasipu had achieved?

Hiranyakasipu had received from Lord Brahma the benediction:
1. He would not die any creature born created by Lord Bramha,
2. He would not die on the land or in the sky,
3. He would die neigher indoor nor out-door,
4. He would not die either during the day or at night,
5. He would not die from any weapon or be killed by any person, dead or alive.

5. How Lord Vishnu “hacked” the Hiranyakasipu’s boon to kill him, keeping promises of Lord Brahma intact?

Lord Vishnu took the avatar of Narasimha (Half-man and Half-Lion) appeared from a pillar not born.
Narasimnha Avatar placed Hiranyakasipu’s body on His lap, which was neither land nor sky.
He killed Hiranyakashipu on the threshold of a courtyard, which is neigher in-door nor out-door.
Lord Vishnu’s Narasimnha Avatar killed Hiranyakasipu in the evening, which is neither day nor night.
Lord Nrisimhadeva perforate Hiranyakasipu’s body with His nails, which were not weapons and were neither living nor dead.

🙂 And now…

Bonus Que.: Why Holi is known as festival of colors?

In Vrindavan and Mathura (Where Lord Krishna grew up) the festival is celebrated for 16 days in remembrance of the divine love of Radha for Krishna. Krishna is believed to have complained to his mother(“Radha kyon gori, me khyon kala”) about his dark skin complexion and Radha’s fair. That’s when Krishna’s mother decided to apply colour to Radha’s face.

Holi-The Festival of Colours

Almost all over the India (specifically North India) the festival of Colors is celebrated with great fanfare. People visits the neightbourhoods and relatives and exchage colors with traditional Abir and Gulaal and at places it’s also been enjoyed with Water using Pichkaris.

Happy Holi!

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-- Kedar Vaijanapurkar --