HOLI CELEBRATION, HINDU TEMPLE OF CANTON, MARCH 22, 2008
Per the Hindu calendar, Holi falls on the Phalgun Purnima, or Pooranmashi (the full moon) which will occur on March 22, 2008.
Originally a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land, Holi is now a symbolic commemmoration of a legend from Hindu Mythology. The story centres around an arrogant king who resents his son Prahlada worshipping Lord Vishnu. He attempts to kill his son but fails each time. Finally, the king's sister Holika who is said to be immune to burning, sits with the boy in a huge fire. However, the prince Prahlada emerges unscathed, while his aunt burns to death. Holi commemorates this event from mythology, and huge bonfires are burnt on the eve of Holi as its symbolic representation.
This exuberant festival is also associated with the immortal love of Krishna and Radha, and hence, Holi is spread over 16 days in Vrindavan as well as Mathura - the two cities with which Lord Krishna shared a deep affiliation. Apart from the usual fun with coloured powder and water, Holi is marked by vibrant processions which are accompanied by folk songs, dances and a general sense of abandoned vitality.
Central to the festival at the Hindu Temple of Canton is the lighting of the Holi in the parking lot. The Holi is a small pyre of wood whose origin is attributed by some to the burning of negative energies such as Holika, Holaka, Dhundha and Putana who trouble little children, or to the burning of desires (Kam or Madan) according to others.
The Holi festival of today is more a social than a religious occasion. Beloved by young people, part of the ritual involves chases each other around and throwing brightly colored powder (gulal) and water over each other.
It is, in short, a grand excuse for Indians to shed inhibitions and caste differences for a day of spring fever and fun.