Thursday, 17 March 2011

Holi Celebration

The celebration of Holi is very ancient in its origin. And by its very origin, it celebrates an ultimate triumph of the 'good' over the 'evil'. While, a feast of colors associated with the Holi, is the face of this celebration, the original reason of celebrating Holi, lies in its soul. And this gives us the 'why' of this ancient festival.

Literally "Holi" signifies "burning" in Indian language. But, how it came to be associated with 'burning', is a story. The reference is found only in ancient Indian mythology. And It is the legend of Hiranyakashipu, to whom the celebration of Holi is associated.

Way back in the pre-Christian era, there lived a demon king named Hiranyakashipu in ancient India. He wanted to avenge the death of his younger brother. The brother, also a demon, had been killed by Lord Vishnu, one of the supreme trio, monitoring the life and death in the universe, (according to the Hindu belief). To take on Vishnu, the tyrant king wanted to become the king of the heaven, earth and the underworld. He performed severe penance and prayer for many years to gain enough power.

Finally he was granted a boon. Powered by the boon, Hiranyakshipu thought he had become invincible. Arrogant, he ordered all in his kingdom to worship him, instead of God. The demon king, however, had a very young son, named Prahalad. He was an ardent devotee of Vishnu.
Despite his father's order, Prahalad continued to pray to Vishnu. So the demon king wanted to kill his son. He asked the favor of his sister Holika who, because of a boon, was immune to fire. They planned that Prahalad would be burned to death. A pyre was lit up and Holika sat on it, clutching Prahalad. Yet, at the end Prahalad emerged unscathed by the fire, And Holika, the demon, was burned to ashes. The earnest devotion and complete submission to Lord Vishnu savedyoung Prahlad. Thus was the triumph of Prahlad, the representative of good spirits. And the defeat of Holika, the representative of evil.
Later, even the demon king Hiranyakashipu was killed by Lord Vishnu. But that is quite a different story. It is from Holika, that the Holi originated. This legend is relived even today on the Holi-eve
when the pyre is re-lit in the form of bonfires.

Even today, people celebrate this occasion. Huge bonfires are lit up every year on the eve of the full moon night of the Holi to burn the spirit of the evils. Hence the story associated with the soul of the celebration.

Now, let us look into the face of it. How did the celebration of Holi assume a colorful face? Well, it is linked to yet another legend, the legends of Krishna. Though of much later origin, still, it was in the pre-Christian era.

According to the Hindu belief, Krishna was a reincarnation of lord Vishnu himself. It was Krishna, or, Krishns, the king of the ancient city of Dwarka, who popularised the tradition of Holi. The origin of the colorful and frolicking tone of Holi lies in the boyhood of Krishna. It all came up as part of his pranks, he used to play with his boyhood mates of Gokul and Vrindavan. Situated in north India, these are the places where he spent his childhood.

It was at this time of year, Krishna used to play pranks by drenching the village girls, with water and colors. At first it offended the girls. But they were so fond of this mischievous boy that soon their anger melted away. And, it did not take long for other boys to join in, making it a popular sport in the village. Later, as Krishna grew up, the play assumed a new dimension.
It added more colors to Krishna's legendary love life. The legend of Krishna's courtship with Radha, and playing pranks with the 'Gopi's. The girls in the 'dairy' village of Gokul were mostly milkmaids, and, hence locally known as the Gopis. The same tradition has transpired through the ages, turning it into a community festival of the masses. As time kept flowing, the culture spread roots to other regions of the country.
The Holi play of Krishna is documented in hundreds of ancient paintings, murals, sculptures and scriptures found across the subcontinent.

Holi, the great Indian festival of colors, is a unique celebration of high spirits, when the new season is courted with a riot of rich colors. It is like a grand kaleidoscope that glorifies all the hues that tinge and renew the lives on earth. It falls on the full moon day of the March, the month when the nippy north wind bows out to the refreshing and rejuvenating breeze from the south, heralding the onset of the ensuing summer in this part of the world. It is thus a festival of spring. The time when the seasonal cycle is caught on a transition. This is when nature starts donning new color. The new foliages start sprouting on the branches, dried and weary over a winter. It is also time when the harvests are reaped and bundled in sheaves. The air is filled with promises of warmth and new lives as the earth discards the wintry glum to greet the bright sun of summer. Beset with this exhilarating backdrop, Holi comes, flinging colors and verve into the landscape of India. As if to mark the renewal and rebirth of life. Holi is thus a celebration of life, the life of love, unblemished joy, and good spirits.

The spirit & significance of colors:
Celebrating the mood of nature with a range of colors. This is what colors of Holi signify. The spirit of celebration is to showcase the shifting panorama of life, of sights, movement of feelings. The human hearts also feel the urge to be recharged with new colors to catch on the mood outside. And Holi gives us a wonderful chance to do this. For, it reminds us that the time is perfect to be colored, to renew love and recharge your vitality. All in sync with nature. And the color symbolizes the energy, the vivid, passionate pulse of life signifying vitality.



1)Milk - 1 Cup.
2)Water - 1 1/2 Liters.
3)Sugar - 1 1/2 Cups.
4) Aniseed - 1/2 tbsp.
5) Almonds - 1 tbsp.
6) Peppercorns - 1 tsp.
7) Cardamom powder - 1/2 tsp.
8) Dried watermelon seeds - 1 tbsp.
9) Poppy seeds - 1/2 tbsp.
10) Rose petals - 1/4 cup, fresh.


1) Soak dry all the ingredients in 2 cups of water for 2 hours.
2) Soak sugar in 1/2 liter of the water used. Keep aside.
3) Grind soaked ingredients to make smooth paste.
4) Pour remaining water into this paste and strain through muslin strainer.
5) Strain the extract into a vessel till the residue turns dry.
6) Add sugar and milk to the liquid.
7) Mix powdered cardamom.
8) Chill for about an hour before serving. Then serve it cold. This chilled almond-flavored beverage is terrific when the temperatures soar. It's tasty really and cools you down!

Aloo Chat


1) Potatoes - 3, peeled.
2) Red chili powder - 1/2 tsp.
3) Cumin powder - 1 tsp, roasted.
4) Chaat masala - 1 tsp.
5) Tamarind chutney (condiment).
6) Mint chutney (condiment).
7) Chopped coriander leaves( for garnish ).
8) Optional garnish - chopped onion, tomato julienne, fresh pomegranate seeds.
9) Oil for frying.


1) Cut potatoes into fairly large cubes 3/4 to 1 inch in size.
2) Heat oil in a wok and deep fry potatoes, till golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper.
3) Place the fried potatoes in a bowl and toss with red chilli powder, cumin powder and chaat masala.
4) Add mint chutney, tamarind chutney according to taste. Toss to coat evenly.
5) Serve, with toothpicks, in individual bowls, garnished with coriander leaves. You can also additionally garnish with chopped onion, tomato julienne or pomegranate.

Puran Poli


1) Channa dal (yellowgram) - 300gms.
2) Jaggery (molasses) - 300 gms.
3) Cardamom powder - 1 tsp.
4) Plain flour - 150 gms.
5) Ghee (clarified butter) - 1 tbsp.
6) Warm water (to knead dough)
7) Ghee to serve


1) Boil dal (gram) in plenty of water till soft but not broken.
2 ) Drain in a colander for 10-15 minutes.
3) Pass through an almond grater in little quantities till all the dal is grated.
4) Mash jaggery till lumps break. Mix well into dal.
5) Put the mixture in a heavy saucepan and cook till a soft lump is formed.
6) Take care to stir continuously, so as not to charr. Keep aside.
7) Mix ghee and flour. Add enough water to make a soft pliable dough.
8) Take a morsel sized ball of dough. Roll it into a 4" round.
9) Place same sized ball of filling in centre, life all round and seal.
10) Roll again carefully to a 6" diameter round. Roast on warm griddle till it turns golden brown. Repeat other side.
11) Take on serving plate. Apply a tsp. of ghee all over top/ Shallow fry on griddle like a paratha for a better flavour (this method will consume more ghee and therefore calories).
12) Serve hot with dal or amti.

Note: The water drained from boiling dal is used to make the amti. ( a thin curry made using black masala, garam masala and some mashed dal.)

Yield: 7-8 puranpolis.

Best wishes to you for a HOLI filled with sweet moments and memories to cherish for long.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting Blog Pushpa - The "Aloo Chat" sounds very good!