Holi Hai!


The festival of colours, HOLI, is an ancient festival and is celebrated at the end of winter, or on the 14th day of PHALGUNA.

The literal meaning of HOLI is “burning” (DAHAN).  Originally, HOLI was known as HOLIKA, indicating the relation of the festival to “HOLIKA – DAHAN”.  Though there are a number of legends associated with HOLI, the most famous of all is the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakashyap.
King Hiranyakashyap had instructed all the people of his kingdom to worship only him and none other.  But his son Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu.  Despite his best efforts to distract Prahlad from the path of devotion, Prahlad refused to worship Hiranyakashyap.  Enraged by Prahlad’s devotion and his own failure, the King instructed his sister Holika to enter the fire with Prahlad.  Holika had a boon to endure the effects of fire without causing any harm to her.  While Prahlad was saved by the grace of the Almighty, Holika, despite her boon, died because of her evil motives.

Holi / Festival of Colors 2013

HOLI marks the victory of good over evil, and it is customary to celebrate HOLI with a bonfire.  HOLI celebrations start  the night before HOLI with a Holika bonfire, where people gather, sing and dance.  The festival, therefore, symbolises the DAHAN (burning) of hatred, anger, enmity, jealousy, greed and other ills of life.  It is also the day to forgive others and to forget all kinds of past conflicts and errors.

Holi Festival

HOLI is the festival of new beginnings.  It celebrates the beginning of spring when the fields are in full bloom and people are expecting a good harvest.  It is all the more reason to rejoice and celebrate HOLI.  Spring is the season of colours and so is the festival of HOLI.

It is the day when people throw colours, especially GULAL, which symbolises happiness and love.  The legend of Radha and Krishna is associated with playing with colours and the festival of gulal comes to its full form in Mathura and Vrindavan.
The Sacred Guru Granth advises Sikhs to play a pure HOLI by immersing themselves in NAMSIMRAN.

Holi celebrations worldwide

“I am imbued with the deep crimson colour of the Lord’s Divine Love; my mind and body have blossomed forth in utter incomparable beauty,” says the Guru.  Sikhs celebrate HOLA MOHALLA { HOLA means HALLA (attack) and MOHALLA implies an organised procession in the form of an army column } at Anandpur Sahib in a three-day celebration marked by shabad-kirtan, langar, processions and poetry recitals.

———–  Kulbir Kaur.                  



PANDHARPUR is a most popular pilgrimage city on the banks of the Bhima River in Sholapur District, Maharashtra, India.  It has an average elevation of 1,520ft.

Pandharpur, alternatively known as CHANDRABHAGA because of its half-moon like shape, is a city named after a great merchant, PUNDALIK, who achieved self-realization here.  Pandharpur, also known as PANDHARI, hosts the renowned  VITTHALA TEMPLE.  Vithoba, Panduranga and Pandharinath are the popular alternate names of the Deity, VITTHALA, who is regarded in Hinduism as a form of Lord Krishna.  Lord Krishna is considered as an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.  RUKMINI is Vitthala’s consort in the Temple.

Pandharpur Rukmini

The worship of Vitthala is based mainly on the contents of the Puranas and the contributions of the Vaishnav Saints of Maharashtra and Karnataka, during the 13th through the 17th centuries.  The Pandharpur Temple covers a large area and has six gates.  The eastern gate is known as NAMDEV GATE.

Pandharpur Vittala

Pandharpur is the centre of the BHAKTI Movement.  For centuries, every year, just before the rains, thousands of pilgrims known as VARKARI, followers of HARIPATH ( path of God who is Krishna – Vishnu) travel long distances from rural Maharashtra and Karnataka to Pandharpur.

Pandharpur Dindi

The pilgrimage, known as DINDI, is a sight to behold, with long lines of fluttering flags against the summer sky, majestic flower-bedecked bullock carts and palanquins, men dressed in white, anointed with sandal paste, wearing strings of tulsi beads, carrying lutes and cymbals, singing traditional songs, and women in colourful nine yard saris balancing tulsi plants on their head in brass pots.  They travel to pay obeisance to Krishna known locally as Pandurange Vitthala.  Devotees affectionately address him as —VITTHA – AI, which means Mother Krishna, attributing to him boundless maternal wisdom, bypassing all gender rigidities.

Pandharpur temple

The word VITTHALA has a mysterious etymology.  Based on VIT, which is Marathi for “brick” on which he stands.  It is even more confusing that a dark-complexioned Krishna is called PANDURANGA, the “fair-complexioned”.  What matters to the devotees, is that Krishna came to this region to meet a devotee called PUNDALIK who was too busy taking care of his old parents to turn around and pay attention to his Divine Guest.  So, he pushed a brick in Krishna’s direction and told him to wait while he completed his duties.  So Krishna waited, arms akimbo, and is still waiting, for the archetypal devotee to turn around.  Thus, through temporal household drama, the lofty divine connects with the devotee.

———–Inputs by Devdutt Pattanaik at mirrorfeedback@timesgroup.com.  

What love is all about

Love romanticThe dictionary has many four-letter words, but none as powerful as LOVE.  Love has the power to impress upon or influence almost all human beings.  Love manages to control both hearts and minds.

When in love, the most rational among us is known to do crazy things and often be told by our family and friends that we have completely lost our minds, but we are happily oblivious to these comments.  Our eyes are controlled when in love in such a way that we are blinded to not only how the one we love looks but to all the faults he/she may have.

What is obvious to most bystanders somehow misses our notice.  Our ears are controlled as well, for how else can you explain that we are selectively deaf to any criticism of the one we love ?

Let us compare love to some of the four-letter words we think may have a powerful effect on us :

HATE :  This is the exact opposite of love —— a feeling which makes us completely despise another and all we want is to destroy the one we hate.  Hate consumes us equally in our pursuit to destroy our enemy and brings depression if we fail to do so.  Love can either make you or destroy you.  Love is sacrifice and hate is revenge.

PAIN :  Love has this phenomenal capacity to both give and tolerate pain.  Love has this unique ability to give agony and ecstasy at the same time.

HURT :  It can be interpreted in two ways —– the physical component caused by injury and the emotional component caused by feelings.  It is only the ones we truly love who can hurt us the most.

SOUL :  Most religions teach us how the soul is the purest part of us, how it is released only after we die.  But, has even one of us ever seen life after death, or come back to tell the tale? If you want to see a true reflection of your soul, love someone selflessly, you shall get very close to seeing yourself in the eyes of the one you love.

HELP :  This gets the closest to love, you usually see gratitude in the eyes of the one you help.  And if you give without expectation, you shall have managed to control the heart and mind of the person you have helped for life. Unfortunately unlike love, it is unilateral in dimension and makes the giver more powerful than the receiver.

CASH :  Money can make a person feel very powerful and buys us material things.  Sadly, the best things in life do not come with a price tag and true love cannot be bought.

LUST :  This emotion is selfish and shallow.  It is momentary and has absolutely no effect on the heart.  Lust and desire are interlinked.  It is usually one-sided and never deep.

 In these comparisons, love stands above the rest.  Love can heal this world, it is probably the balm we are looking for in today’s troubled times.  As Gandhiji would say, “the day the power of love overrules the love of power, the world will know peace”.

————- Muffazal Lakdawala.

Srirangam Temple

Srirangam temple – the largest functioning temple