The grey skies give way to the warm rays of the sun. The bare arms of trees sprout with renewed life and hope. The winter wren flies away to cooler climes and makes way for the happy, soulful chirps of the cuckoos and the mynahs; thus heralding the beautiful albeit short season of “Phlagun”(spring) in India.
The month of “Phalgun” is considered one of the most important and auspicious months in the Hindu calendar. With the advent of this season, the farmers get ready with their winter harvests as do the ladies who are primed to sun out & grind their “masalas” and finish with their pickling for the year.
As for the children, who seem to have been indoors for what looks like ages, they are now ready to play “gilli danda”, climb trees and get a taste of the juiciest mangoes!!! Thus, “Phalgun” is essentially a month of celebration and joy.. and the culmination of this gaiety comes in the form of the vibrant festival of Holi.
“Holi” is celebrated on the full moon night in the month of Phalgun and is known to be celebrated by throwing of colours on one-another.
But is “Holi” just about splashing colours? It should be noted that apart from providing joy, fun and camaraderie; the festival of Holi has significance in our lives and on our bodies as well.
It is said that Lord Krishna used to play Holi with flowers of “Tesu/Palaash” or flame of the forest. These flowers have scientifically been proven to be good for the skin. The colour green was derived from the neem leaves which again is extremely good for protecting the human body against cold/cough and even skin infections.
Red sandalwood powder or the red hibiscus flowers soaked overnight give a beautiful red colour and have great medicinal value. Yellow colour was derived from Saffron, which till date is considered an expensive alternate to chemical beauty enhancers by leading cosmetologists, dermatologists and beauty product giants. Even the Jacaranda flowers can be dried in the shade and ground to give a wonderful blue powder which again is used for various dying purposes!
Some western physicians also believe that for a healthy body, colours have an important place besides the other vital elements. Deficiency of a particular colour in our body causes ailment, which can be cured only after supplementing the body with that particular colour. Biologists believe that the liquid dye or “Abeer” has the ability to penetrate the body and enter into the pores thus strengthening the ions in the body besides rejuvenating the human system.
In fact, people of Vrindavan and Mathura still play Holi with the traditional yellowish-orange coloured water extracted from the dried Tesu flowers. Marigold, Amaltas and yellow chrysanthemums are used for making yellow colour and their sattvic fragrance provide nourishment to the nervous system and are believed to have enhanced therapeutic effects on the whole body.
Even kitchen ingredients like kasturi haldi and besan are used in the making of the holi colours and are considered extremely healthy for our skin.
There is yet another scientific reason for celebrating Holi, this however pertains to the tradition of “Holika Dahan”. The mutation period of winter and spring, induces the growth of bacteria in the atmosphere as well as in the body. When “Holika” is burnt, temperature rises to about 145 degrees Fahrenheit. Following the tradition when people perform “Parikrama” (circumambulation or going around) around the fire, the heat from the fire kills the bacteria in the body thus, cleansing it.
People also spring-clean their houses before Holi which helps in clearing up the dust and mess in the house and get rid of mosquitoes and others pests. A clean house generally makes the residents feel good and generate positive energy.
‘Holi’ comes from the word ‘hola’, meaning to offer oblation or thanksgiving to the Almighty and this year we all must do just the same. By spring cleaning our houses, minds and souls; by playing “Holi” with organic home-made colours and by loving, laughing & sharing the sentiment – “Bura na mano.. Holi Hai!”
Posted on : 4th March 2017