Holi: The story behind the festival of colours

Holi is a Hindu festival but it is celebrated by people of al faiths in India. It known as the festival of colours. It is celebrated by colouring our friends, family and near and dear ones with various colours and water.

Over the years, the festival is also used to create all kind of nuisance and hooliganism. Since the last decade or more, it has turned into a modern big DJ (disco jockey) party where people have crazy fun.

I am sure many of them are not even aware as to why the festival is celebrated in the first place. Ask them and they will go blank.

Here is the story or legend behind the festival of Holi:

The story dates back to the mythological era when Hiranyakashipu is having the time of his life. He was the king of the demonic Asuras. He had a boon through which he received five special powers: he could be killed neither by a human nor an animal, neither indoors nor outdoors, neither at day nor at night, neither by astra (projectile weapons) or by shastra (handheld weapons) and neither on land nor on air or water.

Lord-narasimha-killing-Hiranyakashipu
Picture: Hindudevotionalblog.com

Hiranyakashipu considered himself God and became very arrogant. He wanted everyone to worship him. However, his own son Prahlad didn’t consider his father God. He continued to be an ardent follower of Vishnu.

Hiranyakashipu showred Prahlad with cruel punishments but it didn’t break the latter’s resolve and devotion to Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu’s evil sister Holika thought of a plan. She had to cloak that made her immune to fire. She tricked Prahlad into a pyre and set it afire. However, the cloak got transferred from Prahlad to Holika due to strong winds. Hence, Prahlad was saved while Holika was reduced to ashes.

Hiranyakashipu’s anger rises as Prahlad’s devotion to Lord Vishnu deepens. He claims that the Lord is present everywhere (omnipresent). Hiranyakashipu points at a pillar and asks if he is present in it. When Prahlad answers in the affirmative, Hiranyakashipu breaks the pillar and to his horror, he finds Lord Vishnu in his Narsimha (half human, half animal) avatar.

Narsimha kills Hiranyakashipu in the evening through his nails (lion’s nails), thereby meeting every criteria of the boon.

In this way, the festival of Holi celebrates the victory of good over evil. The Holi pyre is burnt at night and celebrations take place the next day to pay tribute to the elimination of evil.

Wishing you all a very Happy Holi. May the various evils from your lives be wiped off this year and forever.

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