Holi – Myths & Stories Behind the Festival of Colours
2. What are the Reasons for Celebrating Holi?
There are several reasons for celebrating the festival of Holi. Holi is being celebrated for different reasons in different parts of India. Holi is called as Kamuni Punnami in South India. In some parts of North India, the festival of Holi is called as Lath Maar Holi. Boys imagine themselves as Krishna and girls as Radha and play with spilling colours on one another. There are three stories belonging to the festival of Holi.
First Story Behind Holi
Prahlada’s demon father Hiranya Kashyapa becomes intolerant with the devotion of his son towards Sri Maha Vishnu. Prahlada didn’t stop chanting the name of Narayana despite of his father’s trials to make him stop. Hiranya Kashyapa decides to kill Prahlada by throwing him into fire. Prahlada’s elder sister Holika holds him tight to not let him escape and enters the fire. Holika wears a magical cloth to prevent her from burning. But the power of Prahlada’s devotion towards Maha Vishnu makes the cloth cover him and Holika dies in those fires. Marking this happy event of getting freed from Holika people started celebrating this day as Holi. This day got famous as Holi as Holika died in fire.
Second Story Behind Holi
After the death of Sathi Devi, Lord Shiva gets detached from everything and goes on spending his time in meditation. He didn’t realise that Sati Devi was born as Hymavathi for him. All the gods will deploy Manmadha to prompt Lord Shiva towards Parvati. Manmadha shoots his love arrow on to Parameshwara when Parvati comes to him. Under the spell of Manmadha’s love arrow Lord Shiva gets attracted to Parvati. But, realizing suddenly that his penance was disturbed Lord Shiva opens his third eye and burns Manmadha to ashes.
Rati Devi, wife of Kama Deva rushes to Lord Shiva and prays him to give back her husband for the goodness of the world. Lord Shiva feels sorry for what he has done and bestows Manmadha with the boon of Kama Roopa, ability to take any figure. And also says that Manmadha will be born to Lord Krishna and gets back his actual body. This day on which Kama Deva was burnt by Shiva has been celebrated as Holi. This day denotes burning of unnecessary and untimely desires in us.
Third Story Behind Holi
Barsana, a place in Braj area of Gujarat is said to be the place of Radha, the female friend of Sri Krishna. Even today, the boys belonging to Nandgaon, place where Krishna lived, will imagine that they are the incarnations of Krishna and hoist flags in the premises of Radha Rani temple in Barsana. Girls imagine themselves as incarnations of Radha and try to drive those boys away with sticks in their hands. The festival culminates on the last day with spilling colours on each other. That is why this festival is known as Lath Maar Holi. Though there are other stories that describe Holi, the festival of colours, these three stories are considered very important.
Vratas and Pujas that could be done on the day of Holi
Satya Narayana Swamy Vrat, Ashoka Poornima Vrat and Chandra Vrat are commonly performed rituals on the day of Holi.