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Holi


The Swaminarayan Sampradaya also celebrates the birth of Bhagwan Swaminarayan's second spiritual succesor on this day.

This festival celebrates the arrival of spring on Fagun sud Purnima. Also known as Falgunika, people celebrate the changing season and the beauty associated with spring blossoms by spraying color.

In the Gita (10/35), Shri Krishna proclaims spring as the foremost season and one of his Vibhutis -forms:

The ritual of offering roasted grain to Agni - fire-deity is known as Navaanineshti. In Sanskrit, roasted grain is Holaakaa, from which the Hindi 'Holi' is derived. Since Vedic times people availed the newly harvested grain only after offering to the devas. This offering of new grain is Holi.

The Bhavishyottara Puran associates Holi both with man and yagna. Therefore the yagna performed for man's salvation is Holi.

Holi's Origin

There are several stories associated with Holi.

The Bhavishyottara Puran cites a story concerning a rakshasi (demoness) named Dhundhaa, who harassed children and teenagers. To keep her away, people kindled fires at various spots. Then the young and later everyone else chanted God's name and circumambulated the fires. Thus the Lord's name and fire kept the demoness away. In this manner, Satya Yuga's king Raghu propagated the festival of Holi. Furthermore it is believed that Dhundhaa manifests as disease in children, during this period of seasonal change, when kapha (phlegm) increases in the body. Fire is the shakti which protects one from disease. Therefore wood of the Shami tree (Acacia suma) - symbolizing Agni deity - is burnt in the fire to circumvent disease.

Another belief concerns Putna, the giant demoness who tried to kill the child Krishna. When he vanquished her, the cowherds jubilantly burnt her body outside the village. Henceforth the Holi festival came into being.

More renowned is Prahlad's story. Hiranyakashipu, a demon king and father of Prahlad, was a dissenter of Bhagwan Vishnu, whom Prahlad worshipped. Infuriated by his son's devotion, Hiranyakashipu attempted to kill him. In one attempt, he instructed his sister Holika, to wear her miraculous sari, which could not burn, and then sit in a fire with Prahlad in her lap. By the Lord's wish, she happened to wear the wrong garment and was immolated. Symbolically, maya, in the form of Holika, was destroyed by Prahlad's staunch devotion. Therefore to eradicate our maya, we should offer unalloyed bhakti.

This day also marks Lord Manu's birthday anniversary. Mankind is Lord Manu's offspring. He composed the Manu Smruti, a scripture regarded as a manual for man's life on earth.

Nar-Narayan Deva's birthday anniversary too, is celebrated on this day. As the fourth incarnation of Bhagwan Vishnu, he is considered as the embodiment and incarnation of brahmacharya (celibacy).
 

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