Monday, March 5, 2012

Holi Cow! Holi in India

March 8th is Holi time in India. You will know it for the explosion of colour, something like paintball on a countrywide scale. There are a few stories connected with the celebration of Holi, the most common one is that it's a celebration of spring, an enactment of Krishna's love play. Apparently, Krishna worried that his skin was so much darker than that of his love Radha and complained to his mum about it. Krishna's mum was no doubt the prototype of every Indian mother in law to come for eons afterwards, obviously the girl needed to be taken down a peg or two! How dare she be fairer than her own precious son. "Throw some toxic colour on her face and disfigure her for days" she suggested.
Now I don't know about you but if my lover came a courting with toxic powder that would stain my skin and ruin my clothes then I wouldn't be very impressed. Even less so if I discovered that my lover had been following his mother's instructions! I would probably kick him to the kurb!
The original story concerns a wicked demon King who suffered from the delusion that he was a god. In the modern day he would be one of the illuminati or in therapy or locked up in a loony bin. As is the way with despots, he demanded that all worship him as God and mostly people did except for his son who refused to worship his father as a god, loving only Vishnu the preserver God whose dream is the Universe. Naturally the King decided to kill his son. However, every time he tried to kill his son, Lord Vishnu would rescue him.
Now the King had a sister who was just as wicked if not more so (I mean she was a woman, right?) Holika had been granted a boon that she would be left unscathed by fire. Holika tricked Prahlad into sitting on her lap and she then herself sat on a bed of fire. She assumed that, because of the boon, she would leave the fire, unharmed. Unfortunately for her, she died in that fire. Prahlad, the demon King's son kept chanting Lord Vishnu’s name and survived.
Despite the slightly misogynistic overtones of the Holi story (there is another one, I wrote about it a few years back), like most festivals in India the theme is always the victory of good over evil and that's enough reason to get out an boogie!
For solo women travelers out in the thick of a Holi crowd be aware that your physical safety could be compromised!
Related Post: Holi Moon

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