By Anju Bhargava, Special to News India Times indu festivals are communal celebrations through which an aspect of the universal Truth is brought to life. The rituals of the festival are intended to strengthen bonds between and within families and communities. Today the concepts of Holi have spread beyond their birthplace in India and are celebrated around the world by people in all walks of life. Traditionally, the Holi Utsav is celebrated for two days, starting on the Purnima (Full Moon Day) of Hindu Lunar Calendar Month of Phalgun. It falls in the month of Falgun, which is somewhere between the end of February and the middle of March. The first day is known as Holika Dahan, Chhoti Holi and the second as Rangwali Holi, Dhulandi or Dhulivandan. MANY TRADITIONS In India, many traditions are followed in different parts of the country. On the first night an effigy of Holika is burnt to repre- sent the victory of good over evil. Neem leaves are burned to represent removal of bitterness of life, leaving the sweetened medicinal value. It is also a time for cleansing and burning all negativities and trash of the winter in a bonfire. The puranic story tells us, Hiranyakashipu wanted to take revenge for the death of his younger brother who was killed by Lord Vishnu. The king prayed for years to gain power. And he was finally granted a boon. Hiranyakashipu thought he was on par with God and asked his people to worship him like God. His young son Prahalad, was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Prahalad did not follow his father’s order and kept on worshiping Lord Vishnu. The King decided to kill his own son, as his ego was not gratified. He conspired with his sister ‘Holika’, who was immune to fire, to sit on a pyre of fire with Prahalad in her lap. Their plan was to burn Prahalad. But they did not suc- ceed. Prahalad kept reciting the name of Lord Vishnu. Holika was burned to death and her righteous nephew, Prahalad came out unscathed. His intense devotion and belief in God’s protection kept him safe. The story high- lights the ineffectiveness of human power over others in the face of God’s power for a devotee who has fully sur- rendered (somewhat similar, in essence, to David and Goliath). It also shows that a child is not necessarily an inheritor of either the vices or the virtues of his/her par- ent. Each can choose their destiny. The defeat of Holika signifies the burning of all that is bad. After this, Lord Vishnu himself killed Hiranyakashipu. But it is actually the death of Holika that is associated with Holi. Because of this, in some northern states of India like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, a pyre in the form of bonfire is lit on the day before Holi day to remember the death of evil. BRAJ In Braj, the birth place of Lord Krishna, Holi is a cele- bration of love. It celebrates the legend of Radha and Krishna where Krishna took great delight in applying color on Radha and other gopis. This prank of Krishna later, became a trend and a part of the Holi festivities. The, celebrations begin a fortnight before the actual festi- val. Mythology also states that Holi is the celebration of death of Ogress Pootana who tried to kill infant, Krishna by feeding poisonous milk to it. Another legend of Holi which is extremely popular in Southern India is that of Lord Shiva and Kaamadeva. According to the legend, people in south celebrate the sacrifice of Lord of Passion Kaamadeva who risked his life to revoke Lord Shiva frommeditation and save the world. Also, popular is the legend of Ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Raghu and was ultimately chased away by the pranks of the children on the day of Holi. Showing their belief in the legend, children till date play pranks and hurl abuses at the time of Holika Dahan. On the second day spring is heralded colorfully and celebrated joyously. Holi, is indeed the festival of colors in which friends, family and the community come together. Traditionally turmeric and natural colors were used to put colors and they came from flowers and herbs—which in the hot cli- mate of India tend to produce bright natural dyes—but today they’re usually synthetic. Holi is played with everyone, regardless of any status, hierarchy in social or professional standing or gender. A Tradition For Modern Times H Dreamstime The ancient festival of Holi is becoming popular around the world Participants dance and throw colored chalk during the Holi Festival of Colors at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah, March 30, 2013. At Hindu Festival of Colors Holi people, with colored powder on them celebrating, having fun. Los Angeles. California, on March 16th, 2013. REUTERS/JayantaDey A college student smears a friend with coloured powder during Holi celebrations. Holi Special 15 News India Times March 22, 2019 – that’s all you need to know REUTERS/Jim Urquhart Continued On Page 16