It is the month of Phagun, the last Hindu calendar month. The full moon night (poornima) is celebrated as the end of the year, with beginning of New Year as chaitra, first day of Krishna Paksha. It is a festival to celebrate good harvests and fertility of the land; old leaves had fallen, and it is the time for new leaves and new flowers, the season of blooming trees. It signifies the end of winters and beginning of a new season spring, which reflects a hope for new energy in our lives.
Hindus celebrate this in a religious manner as Holika dahan, also popularly called as chhoti holi. The popular tradition is to celebrate with lighting of bonfires on the street corners, people gathering around it, offering of the first Rabi crop to the sacrificing fire with chanting of mantras and shlokas. Everyone rejoice the moments with singing and dancing.
According to the popular mythological belief behind this tradition, Hiranyakashyap was the great king of demons, who was granted with a blessing by Lord Brahma, which made it impossible to kill him. This made the king arrogant who resents his son Prahlada who was a devotee of Lord Vishnu, but in spite of several threats from Hiranyakashyap, Prahlada continued with his prayers. The king attempted to kill his son many times, but failed. Finally he ordered his son to sit in a huge fire with Holika, sister of Hiranyakashyap, who was said to have a boon, which would prevent her from burning. But when the fire started, Prahlada survived unharmed, while Holika was burnt to death. The burning of Holika is celebrated as Holika Dahan, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The next morning, people show their joy by celebrating with colors.
This festival also loosens the strains of social structure, including caste and status. The air enchants the lovely music of happiness, brotherhood, integrity and prosperity. It fills up the gaps between and,together, we celebrate and rejoice.
So, let’s begin our new year with new energy and new hopes, burning the old wicks in ourselves. Let’s instill in us a new positivity amidst all social, political, economical and religious down droops in the society.
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