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.

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.


What else is there on Jan 1?

Each year, 1st January is celebrated as the New Year all around the world. The arrival of December itself sparks the mood of celebration among people of all religion, class, nationality and what not. And as December is about the end, the excitement for the first day of January increases even further.

But amid such atmosphere of celebration, not many would know that January 1 also holds a lot of spiritual significance. The Kalpataru Day falls on this date. It is believed that on 1 January 1886, Ramakrishna Paramhansa revealed himself to be an Avatar or incarnation of God.


It is also believed that Ramakrishna was given the status of a Kalpataru (wish fulfilling tree) by a follower. Hence, the day came to be known as such.

Kalpataru Day is celebrated among the followers of Ramakrishna Paramhansa and Swami Vivekananda in all Ramakrishna Mission centers around the world. On this day, devotees gather in large numbers and pray for their wishes to be fulfilled.

Even if you are not a believer in legends and in the power of getting your wishes fulfilled, it is still a peaceful and tranquil way to start your New Year. This is just what I personally feel.

Here’s wishing all of you Happy Kalpataru Diwas and New Year 🙂

Know more about Kalpataru Day here:

Pictures: Christmas Eve celebrations at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai

December 24th is known as Christmas Eve all over the year. It is a day before the birth of Jesus Christ, which marks the festival celebrated not just by Christmas but by people all around the world.

Christmas-Eve-MumbaiBut not many would know that Christmas Eve holds a lot of significance for the followers of Swami Vivekananda and Ramakrishna Paramhansa. On this date in 1886, Swami Vivekananda, then known as Narendra Nath Dutta, and nine other disciples of Ramakrishna Paramhansa took the oath of monasticism.

They renounced the world by becoming Sanyasis (monks) to selflessly serve and motivate humanity.

Hence, every year in every Ramakrishna Mission centre, Christmas Eve is celebrated with aplomb. The same was the case in its Mumbai centre in Khar, which I make a point to attend every year.

As per the tradition, the celebrations started with Jesus Aarti, which, I am sure, many of you might not have even heard about before. Important verses from the Bible were read in Hindi and then in English.


Having heard Bhagavad Gita teachings in Hindi, the recitation of Bible in the language sounded like teachings from the Gita.

It was another reminder that His message is the same even if paths may differ.

By: Keyur Seta




Navratri special: Ever heard of Garba Visarjan?

Here’s some meaning, importance and relevance of Garba pot or matka.

Like Ganesh Visarjan, there is Navratri Visarjan too. For most of you, this would mean the visarjan or immersion of idols of Goddess Durga. But this is not the only visarjan during Navratri. There is a section of the devotees that also carry out Garba Visarjan.

This might have come as a complete surprise to many. The word ‘Garba’ generally means a dance form carried out during Navratri along with Dandiya. However, that isn’t the only Garba that exists.

Garba pot matka
Picture: Indiamart.com

Garba is actually a pot which is brought home on Navratri and then immersed on Dusshera. Just like the Ganesh idol, it is worshipped daily. But it is not like any other pot. It is a wide pot which is designed and decorated royally in different colours. It has various holes on it. This enables enough air for the lamp (diya), which is ignited inside, to keep its flames alive.

The practice of bringing home the Garba is practiced mostly among Gujaratis. But it is practiced by people from other Indian communities too.

The Garba is also used in another manner. While playing Dandiya and Garba, the Garba is placed at the center and the people dance around it in circles. The Garba symbolizes the universe while the light inside symbolizes God. In other words, it shows that God is at the center of the universe.

That’s not all though. The dancers represent the never-ending nature of life, which indirectly hints at the idea of reincarnation.

Lastly, just like the Ganesh idol, Garba too is immersed in the sea, lakes, river or ponds with much fanfare.


Picture: http://utkarshspeak.blogspot.in


Ganeshotsav Poem: Dhoond Raha Hoon Khud Ko

Here is a poem on the atmosphere during Ganeshotsav festival.

Ganpati-photoढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

वैसे तो सृष्टि के कण-कण में पाया जाता है मुझ को

पर ऐसे माहौल में मैं खुद ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

आइटम नंबर्स के अश्लील शब्दों में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

हिंसक शोर शराबे में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

उस शोर से बच्चे-बीमार के कराहने में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पढाई न कर सके छात्रों की मार्कशीट में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पॉलिटिशंस के फोटोशॉप्प्ड़ चेहरों के बीच ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

हवा में फैले पटाखों के ज़हर में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

नशे में धुत्त मवालियों की गालियों में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

उनसे की गई लड़कियों की छेड़-छाड़ में ढूंढ रहा हूँ खुद को

पर गली मोहल्ले घूम-घूम कर भी न महसूस किया खुद को

अंत में, विसर्जन के बाद के दयनीय दृश्य में पा लिया खुद को…

– केयूर सेता


(In English font)

Dhoond Raha Hoon Khud Ko

Waise toh srushti ke kann-kann mein paya jata hai mujh ko

Par aise mahaul mein main khud dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Item numbers ke ashleel shabdon mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Hinsak shor sharabe mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Us shor se bachche-bimaar ke karrahne mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Padhai na kar sake chhatron ki marksheet mein dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Politicians ke photoshopped chehron ke beech dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Hawa mein faile patakhon ke zehar mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Nashe mein dhutt mawaliyon ki gaaliyon mein dhoond raha hoon khud ko

Unse ki gayi ladkiyon ki chhed-chhad mein dhoon raha hoon khud ko

Par gali mohalle ghoom-ghoom kar bhi na pa saka khud ko

Ant mein, visarjan ke baad ke vivash drishya mein paa liya khud ko

– Keyur Seta

When Javed Akhtar gave a profound tribute to Lord Ram through SRK…

Mainstream Hindi cinema has hardly featured stories from Indian epics like Mahabharata or Ramayana in the modern era or last two decades. The two aforementioned epics have innumerable incidents that can fit into the parameters of typical ‘Bollywood’ melodrama. But somehow they have escaped our films.

As tomorrow (April 4, 2017) is Ram Navami or the Birth Anniversary of Lord Ram, we shall look at one film that has given a deep and profound description of His qualities.

Ashutosh Gowariker’s Swades (2004) remains a much-loved film that didn’t work at the box office. One of the most striking moments in the film is the song ‘Pal Pal Hai Bhari,’ which comes during the Dusshera festival in the story.

Swades-Pal-Pal-Hai-BhariGayatri Joshi, who plays Geeta, mostly features throughout the song, which talks about Sita’s separation from Ram after she was kidnapped by Ravana. While expressing her anguish on being away from her husband for so long, she lists down Ram’s great qualities.

But it is the ending part of the song that takes the cake when Shah Rukh Khan intervenes. In what can be called as a monologue, the actor, who plays Mohan, gives a profound tribute to Ram. In fact, in my opinion, there hasn’t been such a sensible yet appealing compliment to any God in a mainstream Bollywood film in the colour era.

The end of the monologue with the line, ‘Mann Se Ravan Jo Nikale Ram Uske Mann Mein Hain’ speaks a lot than it actually does. It translates in English to – The one who removes Ravan (evil) from his heart has only Ram (good) within him.

Javed Akhtar, the lyricist, has displayed the qualities of both Ram and Ravan in just 10 words! One can only expect a legend like him to come up with something like this. Anyone who is unaware about Ram and Ravan would be enlightened about their respective natures through just a single line. Singer Vijay Prakash, who sang that part, also shouldn’t be forgotten.

Before watching this film, very few would have associated SRK to feature in a song about Lord Ram. But Gowariker had other ideas and thankfully so. Apart from Khan, the only superstar actor to have played a hugely worshipped God in recent decades is Akshay Kumar. He played Lord Krishna in Umesh Shukla’s OMG! Oh My God (2012).

There is another hidden trivia or information in Swades that I have just noticed while writing this piece. SRK’s character is named Mohan who falls in love with Geeta, played by Joshi. Mohan is another name for Krishna. And Krishna is the one who is associated with his great gyan in the form of the Geeta.

And both Ram and Krishna (Mohan) are avatars of Vishnu.

But there is more to it. Krishna was born to Devaki but he grew up with his foster mother, Yashoda. In the movie, Mohan grows up with his foster mother, Kaveri amma, played by Kishori Balal.

Gowariker also featured Lord Krishna and his lover Radha’s love story in his earlier film, Lagaan (2001) in the song, ‘Radha Kaise Na Jale.’

By: Keyur Seta

Swami Vivekananda’s inspiring thoughts on India

Swami Vivekananda is one of the greatest spiritual gurus of the world. But he is also who can also be called a ‘Patriot Monk.’ His love, admiration and respect for his motherland shines brightly through volumes of his teachings.

Here are some of his inspiring thoughts on India on the occasion of Republic Day:

– I am proud that I am a countryman of yours. You the descendants of the sages, you the descendants of the most glorious Rishis the world ever saw. Therefore have faith in yourselves, be proud of your ancestors.

swami-vivekananda– Shall India die? Then from the world all spirituality will be extinct, all moral perfection will be extinct, all sweet-souled sympathy for religion will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct; and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its priest, fraud, force, and competition its ceremonies, and the human soul its sacrifice. Such a thing can never be.

– Once more the wheel is turning up, once more vibrations have been set in motion from India, which are destined at no distant day to reach the farthest limits of earth. Believe, believe, the decree has gone forth, the fiat of the Lord has gone forth – India must rise, the masses and the poor are to be made happy.

– India will be raised, not with the power of the flesh, but with the power of the spirit; not with the flag of destruction, but with the flag of peace and love, the garb of the Sannyasin; not by the power of wealth, but by the power of the begging bowl

– Let us all work hard, my brethren; this is no time for sleep. Do not figure out big plans at first, but begin slowly, feel the ground, and proceed. Up, up, the long night is passing, the day is approaching, the wave has risen, nothing will be able to resist its tidal fury.

– Let her New India arise – out of the peasants’ cottage, grasping the plough; out of the huts of the fisherman, the cobbler, and the sweeper. Let her spring from the grocer’s shop, from beside the oven of the fritter-seller. Let her emanate from the factory, from marts, and from markets. Let her emerge from groves and forests, from hills and mountains…

– Arise and awake and see her seated here on her eternal throne, rejuvenated, more glorious than she ever was – this Motherland of ours.