Holi is celebrated on the first day of the month Chaitra in the traditional Indian calendar. Other than the various legends associated with the festival, the various associated Holi festivities have also to do with the change of season and related effect on health.
Before the use of chemical colours started when Holi was celebrated with natural colours made from flowers and other ingredients, these helped to balance the kapha in people. The playfulness seen in people during the festival also has a relevance to health, besides the Holika Dahan, lighting of bon fire on the night before Holi.
Since it is the in-between time of change from winter to spring, there is a lot of bacterial growth in the body. By lighting the bon fire, the temperature rise helps to cleanse the environment of all the microbial growth. As people go around the burnt Holika, the high temperature also serves to rid their bodies of bacteria.
The significance for health notwithstanding, people mostly take to the fun part of the festival of colours. That is why we find natural colours replaced by chemical colours in Holi as it does not take away the fun from it. Besides that, there is devotional significance that people never forget. Various parts of the country have different legends about Holi.
The most popular one is the legend of Hiranyakashyap and Prahlad. It is the story of how Prahlad, the devotee son of a devil king Hiranyakashyap was able to win over his father by being steadfast in his devotion. Folklores of Radha Krishna in which Krishna is told to be fond of playing colours with Radha is also quite popular. Another legend associated with Krishna is that of death of ochre Pootna after which Holi was celebrated. A popular legend in south India is one which tells about the sacrifice of Kaamdeva (Indian version of cupid) for arousing Lord Shiva from his deep meditation for saving the world.
Holi is celebrated in the spirit of forgetting the differences. People are fond of chanting, “Dont mind! It’s Holi” and apply colours on even strangers on this day. Although linked to Hindu folklore and legends, the festival is celebrated even by other communities with same excitement. It brings the society together in a spirit of oneness. It is said that even enmity should be forgotten on this day for celebrating the joyous festival.
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