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Festival of Holi (Phagwah) Commentary

Holi Festival has been celebrated primarily since the early 1990’s in St. Kitts and Nevis by the Guyanese, Trinidadians and Indian population residing here. This festival originated in India and has many legends, rituals, significance and benefits for those celebrating. In Guyana, Trinidad and more so other parts of the world, the festival of Holi is celebrated and enjoyed by Hindus and non-Hindus alike. Children especially look forward to Holi as it gives them a reason to play with little or no restrictions i.e. with water, mud, etc. and with elders and children alike. It is one of those days when a child can go to his/her neighbor’s house early in the morning and wet everyone even the pets and there is no punishment. Later in the afternoon when everyone is cleaned up prayers are done; gifts of sweets are distributed to all neighbors and friends etc. People generally take this opportunity to renew a sour relationship through play and fun i.e. with colored water (abeer) and colored powder and friendly greetings and blessings for the year ahead. Early Holi rituals According to Holifestival.org – It is said that Holi existed several centuries B. C. However, the meaning of the festival is believed to have changed over the years. Earlier it was a special ritual performed by married women for the happiness and well-being of their families and the full moon (Raka) was worshiped. Legends of the Holi Festival (Holifestival.org) King Hiranyakashyap wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship only him but to his great disappointment, his son, Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana. Hiaranyakashyap commanded his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. Holika had a boon whereby she could enter fire without any damage on herself. However, she was not aware that the boon worked only when she enters the fire alone. As a result she paid a price for her sinister desires, while Prahlad was saved by the grace of god for his extreme devotion. The festival, therefore, celebrates the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion. Legend of Lord Krishna whereby the Lord himself started the tradition of playing with colors by applying color on his beloved Radha and the other gopis. Gradually, this playful act gained popularity with the people and became a tradition. There are also a few other legends associated with the festival – All depict triumph of good over evil – lending a philosophy to the festival. Cultural Significance of the Holi Festival Celebration of the various legends associated with Holi reassures the people of the power of the truth as the moral of all these legends is the ultimate victory of good over evil and that god always takes his true devotee in his shelter. All the legends associated with this celebration help the people to follow a good conduct in their lives and believe in the virtue of being truthful. Social Significance Phagwah celebrations bring the society together for this festival is celebrated by both Hindus and non-Hindus as everyone like to be a part of such a colorful and joyous occasion. Additionally, the tradition of Holi is that even the enemies become friends on this day and forget any feeling of adversity that may be present. Moreover on this day people do not differentiate between the rich and poor and everybody celebrate with a spirit of togetherness. Family and friends exchange gifts, sweets and greetings. This helps in revitalizing relationships and strengthening emotional bonds between people. Biological benefits of Phagwah The colors when sprayed on the body by liquid form or powder greatly impact the body. Biologists believe that these penetrate the body and enter into the pores. This strengthens the ions in the body and adds health and beauty to it. The Hindu Cultural Association of Nevis wishes to extend Phagwah Greetings to all Hindu brothers and sisters and the General public. Happy Holi 2014

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