The Colorful Celebration of Holi
In the Hindu calendar, the second most important celebrated event occurs during the cusp of the end of the winter and the beginning of spring season. This period is determined using the lunar calendar developed by the ancient Rishis (scientists) and normally followed by Hindus.
As we are aware, after the relatively dead days of winter, spring arrives renewing afresh life force visibly in plants and all around Nature. As India is located north of the equator, the spring time arrives during months of February or March, depending on the lunar calendar for that year.
The internal nature of man mirrors the external Nature. All matter found in Nature is a combination of five mahabhuta (elements) namely, earth, fire, water, air, and ether. Similarly, man’s body is also a combination of these five primary elements enlivened by the Light of the Atman (soul). The great Vedic scientists discovered that all Nature undergoes rapid transformation at this time. Waste matter is eliminated thereby cells are renewed. This phenomenon is observed twice a year, at the cusp between winter and spring, and secondly at the end of summer and beginning of fall season. These two relatively short periods during the year provide a distinct opportunity for rapid renewal at a rate unlike observed at any other time of the year. Just as plants renew, the biological cells in the entire human body undergo massive change. Waste is eliminated and new cells form at a rapid rate. The Hindus have used these two periods for biological cleansing and renewal of the five body sheaths: physical body, vital energy, mind, intellect, and bliss sheaths. While the cells in the physical body are renewed by appropriate eating of sattvic food, the more subtle sheaths can also be rejuvenated at the same time. Man can rid himself of old habits, the known negative tendencies of lust, greed, and possessiveness, of envy and jealousy towards others among others.
The Holi celebration is used to burn the negative tendencies symbolically in the form of a bonfire and internally to rid oneself of impurities holding back spiritual progress. At the same time, positive tendencies of love and harmony are reinforced. It is a time used to renew old friendships and to form new friendships. This is also a time to forget old hatreds and join together in peace and harmony. The Rishis made this a fun and festive celebration. People, regardless of age, get together and play with colored powder both dry and wet. It is a great ice breaker. While playing with colors, it is impossible to remain serious. One instantly becomes a child full of joy and laughter. The ego and barriers between men break down easily accomplishing the task of creating peace and harmony in tune with Nature. In this way, the task of eliminating negative tendencies and bringing forth man’s innate positive nature is simply done.
Happy Holi to all. Aum Tat Sat.