Significance of Holi

Hiranyakashipu is said to be an asura demon, who is fond of wealth. Hiranya means gold. Kashipu means food and clothing. He is clothed in gold and riches.

Hiranyakashipu symbolises the asuri tendencies rising where there is fondness for wealth in the form of gold, exotic food and extravagant clothing. The notion of supremacy, controllership and ‘invincibility’ that arises with the power that wealth brings.

Prahlad is the son of Hiranyakashipu symbolising devotion to the highest power, here Vishnu. When prosperity grows, devotion to God in any name and manner is the only way to keep this tendency in check in the initial stages. But if the tendency is not reigned through devotion then it ultimately brings a fierce end to prosperity, the person and family.

Hiranyakashipu’s sister is Holika, an asurani, female demon. She represents attachment born out of aviveka (non discernment) in the environment of ‘Gold’. Gold means aggrandisement of wealth. Wealth is empowering by nature. The empowering capacity is equated to ‘Shakti’ which is the ‘female’ aspect of creation. When this Shakti is misplaced it is finally the cause of doom. Holika dahan is celebrated a day before Holi, to symbolise that final victory is imminent if aviveka is destroyed in the fire of viveka which is lit by knowledge.

Holi, a festival for the followers of Sanatana Dharma, is a celebration of victory of Devotion over the lure and the power of the ephemeral. The victory of daivi divine force over asuri demonic forces within and outside. In whose heart Bhagavāna / God resides, for them the true master of creation comes at calling. And all the vibrant colours of life play sportively with merriment.

Happy Holi everyone 🙏🏼

©️ Deepti Vishwanath

Festival of India -Sankranti

Makar Sankranti – 14 January, 2017
Time of Uttarayana.

Vedic customs and tradition is greatly based on the lunar movement. Because Sun is an important aspect to a Vaidika (now commonly referred to as a Hindu) as Sun is considered the first ‘visible’ source on whom, life in all forms is dependent. It’s recognition as thus, is expressed as gratitude in various forms of prayers, worships. And many occasions are celebrated keeping this fact in view.

The movements of various planets, the Moon and the Sun have been deeply and accurately studied by the Vaidika thinkers. This has been integrated in life in the form of celebrations as various festivals throughout the year. Keeping the Vaidika goal of Moksha as primary, the festivals were all occasions to celebrate one’s life as a human while not forgetting the main purpose of human existence.

Makar Sankranti is one such festival. The day is considered as an important celestial transition of Sun entering Makar (Capricorn). The transition is called Sankranti. Thus there are 12 Sankrantis in a year. But two are considered important. The Makar Sankranti and the Mesh Sankranti (Sun entering Aries) also called Baisākhi, falling in April. Amongst these two also, Makar Sankranti is more widely celebrated with different names in almost all the States throughout India.

Makar Sankranti marks the time of the year with longer days, smaller nights. This phase is called the Uttarayana – the time when the Sun is appearing to move Northward, towards Uttara. Longer days represents more day time for performing the essential deeds for one’s upliftment towards the higher direction (symbolically Uttara means upwards). Thus, the festival marks the time when the seasons will allow more conduciveness to Man to get out of his lethargy and indolence (which the preceding seasons may have predisposed) and engage in activities which will hasten him towards his goal of Moksha. It is also symbolically significant as the Harvest time which means material benefits as well. How you have utilised your time last year, you Harvest it now and begin sowing new seeds for another Harvest, or the Harvest you desire (amongst Artha, kāma and Dharma purusharthas).

Celebrated variously throughout, a serious student of Vedanta, will use this time to reinvoke his efforts for knowing Brahman. Which Sun symbolises as ever effulgent light, the dispeller of darkness (ignorance). Through Śravana -Manana-Nidhidhyasana. And the festival brings the opportunity to engage in such karmās as Dana (of various kinds) to the deserving people, Japa, Tapas And the Sun worship in the form of Chanting the Gayatri Mantra to resolve within to live a more ‘conscious and brilliant a life’ as the ‘Sun’ does. It then also offsets any misdoings or wrong -doings that may have been done unconsciously during the time just gone. And so Lohri precedes Sankranti. Burn away, physically and mentally all your past non essential collections, to begin afresh the next day.

Wishing everyone beforehand so that we can start the day fresh with knowledge.

Harihi Om Tat Sat! 🙏