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The festival of Holi

by Dhineka Narain

Holi is a wonderful Hindu festival which is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March every year. It is a very fun and enjoyable festival in which everyone chases everyone else around, throwing brightly coloured powder (known as 'gulal') and also coloured water over each other. People also dance and folk songs are sang as everyone celebrates the joy of Holi.
The main story why Hindu's celebrate Holi is that many, many years ago there lived an evil king who was called Hiranyakashyapu. He had a thirst for power and wanted to be invincible so he prayed long and hard, and did severe penance until Lord Brahma granted his prayers and appeared before him. Hiranyakashyapu told Lord Brahma his request that he wanted to be made immortal but Lord Brahma refused to grant this wish and told Hiranyakashyapu to wish for anything else.
Hiranyakashyapu then requested that. a) He could not be killed by man or beast; b) He could not be killed in the sea, in the air or on land; c) He could not be killed outdoors or indoors; d) He could not be killed by any weapon, whether it was man-made or god-made; and finally e) He could not be killed during the day or at night.
These wishes were granted and soon after, Hiranyakashyapu started to believe that he was invincible and more powerful than God. He demanded that the people should worship him instead of God. Everyone bowed down to the demands of this evil ruler but one child. That child was Hiranyakashyapu's son, Prahlad. He was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and refused to pray to anyone else. He continued to pray to Lord Vishnu with true devotion and this action enraged the King who demanded that his son should be killed.
He attempted to kill Prahlad many times, including throwing him off a cliff and flinging him in a snake pit but Prahlad would simply chant Lord Vishnu's name, and would emerge unscathed. Eventually, Hiranyakashyapu called upon his sister Holika. Holika had been given a divine cloth which meant that she could not be hurt by fire if it had been draped around her. Together, Hiranyakashyapu and Holika made up a plan in which to kill Prahlad once and for all.
They lit a huge bonfire and Holika held Prahlad on her lap with the cloth around herself and not Prahlad, so that she would survive and Prahlad would burn. Suddenly, a gust of wind blew the cloth off Holika's shoulders and onto Prahlad's, who was sitting in the flames chanting the name of Lord Vishnu. Therefore Holika was burnt to ashes but Prahlad was not hurt at all. Thus, good triumphed over evil and it is this which we celebrate on Holi. Sometimes, the night before, a bonfire is lit and Holika is burnt to show this.
As for Hiranyakashyapu, he was killed by Narsimha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Narsimha was half man, half lion (neither man nor beast. He broke out of a pillar in the palace at twilight (neither morning nor night), dragged Hiranyakashyapu to the threshold (neither indoors nor outdoors), lay him on his lap (neither on earth, nor in the sky), and killed him by ripping his chest apart with his claws (not a weapon). We celebrate Holi with colours to show the start of spring as it was also believed that Lord Krishna would often throw colour and water on the gopis (milkmaids) at the start of spring.
How does Maha Lakshmi Vidya Bhavan Celebrate Holi?
Maha Lakshmi Vidya Bhavan likes to make Holi a really fun and extremely enjoyable festival for everyone. The night before the celebration, a bonfire is lit and Holika is burnt too. At the temple, Bhajans are sung which everyone joins in. Chowtaal is sung by children and there is aarti too. Everyone enjoys and even dance to express their happiness!
The celebrations continue outside in the neighbouring park where powder and also coloured water is thrown at everyone. There is absolutely no limit to the amount of fun you can have! Don't miss HOLI 2006 at MLVB!!!
Holi being Celebrated at MLVB

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MLVB trustees at Holi Celebrations

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Coloured powder being applied

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Children singing Chowtaal

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MLVB members during the Celebrations

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