The 'Holi' festival is a very fun-filled and popular occasion in India. People play holi with Chandan and colored water. This festival is celebrated around early March each year. People believe that the bright colors represent energy, life and joy. Huge bonfires are also burnt in the evening and people worship the fire.
Excerpts from Guruji's talk on Holi
Life should be full of colors! And each color is meant to be seen and enjoyed separately, for if seen all mixed together, they will appear all black. All the colors like red, yellow, green, etc. should exist side by side and simultaneously be enjoyed together. Similarly, in life, different roles played by the same person should exist peacefully and distinctly inside him. For example, when a father continues to play his role of a 'father' in office, things are bound to go for a toss. In our country, a politician is sometimes a father first and a leader later!
In which ever situation we are in, we should play the corresponding role to the hilt and then life is bound to become colorful! This concept was called 'Varnashram' in ancient India. This meant - everyone, be it a doctor, teacher, father, whoever or whatever, is expected to play their roles with full enthusiasm. Mixing professions will always be counter productive. If a doctor wants to do business, he should run a business separately and secondary to his profession and not make business out of medicine. Keeping these 'containers' of the mind separate and distinct is the secret of a happy life and this is what HOLI teaches.
All colors emanate from white, and when mixed again, they become black. When your mind is white and consciousness - pure, peaceful, happy and meditative, different colors and roles emerge. We get the strength to play various roles with full sincerity against the background. We have to dip into our consciousness time and again. If we only look inwards and play around with colors outside of us, we are bound to find blackness all over again. Between roles we have to take deep rests, in order to play each role sincerely. Now, the biggest impediment to deep rest is desire. Desire means stress. Even petty desires cause high stress - the higher goals give relatively less botheration! Desire tortures the mind at times.
So what does one do?
The only way out is to focus attention on the desire and surrender it. This act of focusing awareness or sight on desire or Kama is called 'kamakshi'. With awareness, desire loses its grip and surrender happens and then nectar flows out from within. The goddess, Kamakshi, holds a sugarcane stem in one hand and a flower in the other. The sugar-cane stem is so hard and has to be squeezed in order to obtain sweetness, while the flower is soft and collecting nectar from it is so easy. This truly represents life, which indeed has a little of both! It is far easier to obtain this bliss from the inside than it is to try to extract pleasure from the outside world - which needs a lot more effort.
Lift Your Spirit with Joy of Color - By Gurudev Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
There is a famous story associated with the festival:
The word purana comes from the Sanskrit word 'pura nava', which means 'that which is new in the city'. It is a new way of presenting things. Puranas are full of colorful illustrations and stories. On the surface they may appear to be mere fantasy, but actually they contain subtle truths.
An asura king, Hiranyakashyap, wanted everyone to worship him. But his son Prahalad was a devotee of Lord Narayana, the king's sworn enemy. Angry, the king wanted Holika, his sister to get rid of Prahalad. Empowered to withstand fire; Holika sat on a burning pyre holding Prahalad on her lap. But it was Holika who was burnt, Prahalad came out unharmed.
Hiranyakashyap symbolizes one who is gross. Prahalad embodies innocence, faith and bliss/joy. The spirit cannot be confined to love material only. Hiranyakashyap wanted all the joy to come from the material world. It did not happen that way. The individual jivatma cannot be bound to the material forever. It’s natural to eventually move towards Narayana, one's higher self.
Holika stands for the past burdens that try to burn Prahalad's innocence. But Prahlad, so deeply rooted in Narayana Bhakthi could burn all past impressions (sanskaras) and joy springs up with new colors. Life becomes a celebration. Burning the past, you gear up for a new beginning. Your emotions, like fire, burn you. But when there is a fountain of colors, they add charm to your life. In ignorance, emotions are a bother; in knowledge, the same emotions add colors
Each emotion is associated with a color- Anger with red, jealousy with green, vibrancy and happiness with yellow, love with pink, vastness with blue, peace with white, sacrifice with saffron and knowledge with violet.
Knowing the essence of the festival, enjoy the day with Wisdom.