It’s a good idea to research the dates of the annual Holi celebration if you want to travel to India in late February or early March. You should also pack an extra set of clothes.
That’s because, for a few days each spring, crowds of people line the streets and splatter brightly colored dyes all over passersby. Except for staying inside or appearing intimidating enough to discourage the practice, it’s difficult to dodge the fun—and paint.
Holi stands for the start of spring and the victory of good over evil. It’s also claimed to be a recreation of a game played by the milkmaids and Radha, the consort of the Hindu god Krishna.
The tale explores both deeper topics as well as the gods’ enjoyment and flirtatiousness.
The colors used for Holi today are mostly manufactured rather than the natural dyes that were once produced by flowers and herbs, which thrive in India’s hot environment.
The container of almost fluorescent red powder the driver gave me served as my weapon of choice as I entered the Holi smoke.
It was primarily yellow and resembled a medieval artwork of hell with figures that were only dimly discernible through the sulfurous fog.
Exuberant puffs of pink, blue, and green, however, dispelled the darkness. Entering the tinted mist was like stepping into a pleasant, surprising, and giggly world.
Significance of Holi
People avoided the stranger at first out of respect. Then, a laughing girl hurried up and smeared paint all over my face on top of my face with her blue-splattered sari.
With a handful of pink, I returned the favor. Legs, arms, hair, and clothing were all fair game after that; everything was a possible canvas.
India is one of the world’s most colorful countries because of its exquisite textiles, exotic flowers, vibrant billboards, hand-painted rickshaws, and trucks that are decked out in patterns, lights, and brightly painted images of gods.
However, there is still much to learn about colors in this situation. They have a purpose in India and are more than just lovely.
Brahma, the creator, Shiva, the destroyer, and Vishnu, the preserver, are the three primary deities in Hinduism.
When a crisis arises, Vishnu, who spends all of the eternity asleep, awakens and acts like the mightiest of superheroes to save the world.
A legend about him claims that he drank a pot of poison to save the creation, earning him the nickname Nilakantha, or the blue-necked one.
Blue serves as a reminder that while evil does exist, it can be defeated by courage and moral behavior. A form of Vishnu is Krishna.
As with Vishnu, he is shown as having blue skin, and his name signifies “black.” Blue is not only related to the gods but has also historically been connected to India thanks to the indigo dye.
The Roman historian Pliny the Elder described “indicum, a production of India” in the first-century a.d., stating that it “yields a magnificent combination of purple and cerulean [sky blue].
According to his theory, the color was a sort of slime that adhered to the river reed scum.
This misperception is due to the fact that the substance actually originates from a bush with tiny green leaves that, after being dried and fermented in a dye vat, appear rather icky.
In the time of Pliny, indigo was presumably transported as hard cakes to the Roman coastal city of Ostia. Pliny describes individuals selling “indigo cakes” manufactured from dried pigeon feces and lightly tinted with actual dye to pass for real. It was valuable enough to be faked.
Currently, brides and married ladies dress in crimson.
In addition to Muslims, Buddhists, and Jains, Hindus also associate this color with marriage, life, festivals, and general good fortune.
When a married woman passes away, her body is draped in a red material that represents her bridal saree and may resemble the one discovered in Mohenjo Daro.
But once a lady becomes a widow, she never dons red again, and when she passes away, she is draped in white, the color of renunciation and purity.
In India, many people tattoo a crimson dot known as a tilak on their forehead.
Turmeric powder, which is typically yellow but miraculously turns scarlet when combined with lime, is the source of the red hue known as kumkum. It is a sacred mark of protection that is always applied to deities. You could make a similar claim regarding how Indian culture uses color.
On the surface, they offer amusement as well as helpful cues of routine and tradition.
However, if we pay close attention, Indian hues also serve as a reminder of two things that are simple to overlook: the elusive nature of matter and our unique connection to light, whatever it may be.
Green is the hue of nature and gladness, while blue is the complexly spiritual color of the gods. It is the color of Prince Rama, a different avatar of Vishnu who lived most of his life in exile in the forest.
In Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh in central India, married ladies frequently don green bangles and saris as a sign of respect for Rama; a widow, on the other hand, never dons green.
Since India lacks a naturally occurring green dye, cotton and silk were sometimes dyed twice, once with indigo and once with turmeric or pomegranate peel, which produced vibrant yellow colors.
The third caste, the Vaisyas or merchants, are additionally linked to the color yellow because he is claimed to have created clothing for himself out of the sun’s rays, Lord Vishnu is referred to as tantuvardhan, or the weaver, in the 3,500-year-old Rig Veda book of sacred hymns.
Almost invariably, he and Krishna are depicted wearing yellow clothing. Indian yellow, one of history’s most peculiar colors, has occasionally been utilized by Indian artists to depict these deities.
The vividness of colors adds a lot of happiness to our lives, and Holi, the festival of colors, is essentially a day to celebrate.
Holi is a well-known Hindu holiday that is fervently and joyfully observed throughout all of India.
The ritual begins with the lighting of the bonfire one day prior to Holi, and this action represents the victory of good over evil.
On the day of Holi, people enjoy playing with color with their relatives and friends, and in the evening, they express their love and respect for those closest to them.
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