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True Colours

Celebrating the ‘Festival of Colours’ and a few introspections

Celebrations begin with lighting of a bonfire on the eve of Holi. Legends and stories associated with Holi make the festival exuberant and vivid.

Holi, the festival of colours is unique in a way. You cannot stay aloof from this festival. Even if you don’t want to participate, you can’t pass it. You have to dodge it. It provides others the right to invade your private space, take liberties and most of it is done in good spirit. Are you an active or a reluctant participant, or are you a dodger? This says a lot about your true colours.

The Legend

Hiranyakashyap was a demon king who had won over the kingdom of earth. He was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship only him. But to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father.

Hiranyakashyap tried several ways to kill his son Prahlad but each time Lord Vishnu saved him. Finally, he asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. For, Hiranyakashyap knew that Holika had a boon, whereby, she could enter the fire unscathed.

Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire. Legend has it that Holika had to pay for her sinister act with her life. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlad, who kept chanting the name of Lord Naarayana all this while, came out unharmed, as the Lord blessed him for his deep devotion.

Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika and is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.

There is also a tradition of people rendering their gratitude to Agni, the god of fire by offering gram and stalks from the harvest with all humility. Further, it is customary on the last day of Holi for  people take a little of the bonfire to their homes. It is believed that the fire would purify their homes and their bodies will be free from disease.

The Other Legend

Young Krishna is known to be very playful and mischievous. As a child, Krishna was extremely jealous of Radha’s fair complexion since he was very dark. One day, Krishna complained to his mother Yashoda about this injustice of nature. To pacify the crying young Krishna, the doting mother asked him to go and colour Radha’s face with whichever colour he wanted.  In a mischievous mood, naughty Krishna heeded the advice of mother Yashoda and applied colour on Radha’s face; making her one like himself. Well! Did he?

Can you change someone’s true colours just by painting their face differently?

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