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Holi - Dhuleti - The Hindu Festival of Color
Celebration of Holi have been found the 7th century Sanskrit drama, Ratnavali  . Holi has certainly perennial rituals attached to it, the first is smearing of coloured powder on each other, and throwing water, coloured and scented using pichkaris, shaped like giant syringes or squirt guns. Though the festival really beings many days in advance, with 'Holi Milan' or Baithaks, musical soirees, where song related to the festival, and the epic love story of Radha Krishna are sung; specially type of folk songs, known as “Hori” are sung as well. Some classical ones like Aaj biraj mein Holi re rasiya, have been present in the folklore for many generations.
Food preparations also begin many days in advance, with assemblage of gujia, papads, kanji and various kinds of snack items including malpuas, mathri, puran poli, dahi badas, which are served to Holi guests. The night of Holi, the baithak turn into event of churning bhang ( cannabis) to make intoxicating milk shakes.
Holika Dahan: The Holi bonfire
Holika Dahan (Holi bonfire)The main emphasis of the festival is on the burning of the holy fire or Holika. The origin of the traditional lighting of Holi is attributed by some to the burning of demonesses like Holika, Holaka and Putana who represent evil, or to the burning of Madan according to others.
Traditionally a bonfire on the day of Holi, marks the symbolic anhilation of a demoness Holika the sister of demon, Hiranyakashipu, in Hindu mythology, while trying to kill, a devotee, Bhakta Prahlad .
This is akin to other festivals where effigies are burned, like Ravana Dahan on Vijayadashami (Dusshera) day, also in many other religions across the world, signifying end of dark or demonic forces, though with Holika Dahan, the effigy has now been all but vanished or present in a symbolic form, except in few areas in the Braja region, where effigies are still seen on street corners and public squares, piled on top of an assemblage wood. This set to fire after ritualistic worship, and people make pradakshina of the bonfire. The next day this victory is celebrated as the day of Dulhendi.
Principal ingredients of celebration are Abeer and Gulal, in all possible colours. Next comes squirting of coloured water using pichkaris. Coloured water is prepared using Tesu flowers, which are first gathered from the trees, dried in the sun, and then ground up, and later mixed with water to produce orange-yellow coloured water. Another traditional Holi item now rarely seen is a where a red powder enclosed in globes of Lakh, which break instantly and covering the party with the powder
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