Sep 24, 2013

"Horrors of Holi" from Sermons in the Stroms

Amongst the diverse legends that are current about the spring-time festival of Holi which is celebrated throughout our country, the life of the teen-aged devotee Prahlada is also associated with it.
The demon King Hiranyakashipu had a sister named Holika and it is believed that when Gods pleased with her penance appeared before her and asked her to choose a boon, Holika is said to have desired to become fireproof. Gods granted it—but decreed her that immunity would get transferred into any person allowed by her to sit on her laps. The presence of the Gods and the fructification of her austerities made her so jubilant that this specific condition escaped her hearing.
Once, the atheist monarch Hiranyakashipu ordered that his disobedient saintly son be made to sit on the laps of his sister Holika and fire be set around her—so that, he may be consumed by the flames.
But to the king's dismay and to the delight of Prahlad's devotees, the devilish plan misfired. For, no sooner Holika who sat in the midst of the unlit pyre made Prahlada to sit on her laps, her power of fire-proofness got transferred to him and she was instantly consumed by the raging fire of the pile of woods when it was lit. Prahlada walked out unharmed.
That miraculous escapade of pious Prahlada was then celebrated bv his votaries by sprinkling on one another coloured powder known as 'abhil and gulal' and by burning mock images of Holika and through other types of healthy fun and frolics marking the triumph of virtue over evil.
From thenceonwards, the festival came to be celebrated annually all over the country during the close of the first half of the Hindu month 'Phalgun'.

Since the last century, however, the laudable traditions of commemorating that sacred and significant event were dismissed and replete dirty and despicable practices introduced into it. These days, vast majority of Hindus with the exception of class families celebrate Holi in the following indecent ways and it has therefore become to be regarded as the festival of the ‘Sudras' — the low caste.
A giant size mock image of Holika is installed in different localities of the towns and cities by different groups of people and the same is set to fire by various pilfered items like shaky doors, logs, cow-dung cakes, quilts and clothes, etc. Crowds break into different houses — drench the inmates with colored water and besmear them with sticky pastes and paints and even with fecal matter in some extreme cases. It has also become customary to freely exchange vulgar abuses by both the sexes in common circles. Sights of care and stray carts being reduced to ashes are not wholly uncommon. Then, there are people who throw their Holi victims into the dirty gutters. Cases of people being tied-up in a bundle and left to hang by the branches of far off trees aren't rare either. Holi also records instances of sleeping people being tightly bound to their cots and left off in the distant roads to block vehicular traffic. Setting of fire to haystacks and grain fields are also heard of. These and numerous other modes of foolery and vengeance are employed during the Holi with a view to cheaply enjoying at the cost of others.
Here's a typical way in which about a score of Brahmin and Jain Collegians celebrated the Holi festival this year at Jamnagar in Saurashtra. The locality was Bhidbanjan Khadki near Moti Nivas and Krishna Bhuvan.
From 6th to 12th March of this year I was halting in Jamnagar at the place of one Seth Shri. Pushkarbhai A. Nagori. I used to go out for my morning walks towards Bedi Bunder side daily via Bhidbanjan Khadki.
On the morning of 10th March also, I went out for the usual walk and as I approached the Bhidbanjan Khadki, I saw about 20 youths around a bon-fire of about 5 feet spread and 4 feet high. It was about 5.30 a. m. then. Some were sipping some hot beaverage, some brushing their teeth and some of them were watching the rising flames and the flying sparks.
In that group was a boy pacing here and there with a small dog in his arms. All of a sudden, he rushed towards the fire and threw the dog into it with a pressing force. So quickly did he do so that none could do anything.
The fire piles with a big cavity in the centre were too high and the fire itself was so thick and blazing that the oblated dog which must have been overtaken by instantaneous suffocation, could neither jump out nor raise as much as a faint cry even. Foul smell of burning flesh soon enveloped the place and a little later a cracking noise was heard. Whereon, one of the youths shouted 'see, its brain has burst'.
Excepting a young lad who unable to stand the sight and who broke into tears, all others were as unmindful as all of us who DAILY kill hundreds of mosquitos or bugs without the least feeling of pain or concern.
Considerable Josser to properties and persons are perpetrated every year by the Hindus celebrating the Holi festival even inspite of routine warning from the Government.
When people revel in dangerous and despicable acts in the name of religious traditions and customs, our high cultural heritage can list nothing but CONTEMPT from other sects and nationals.
Can't the Government ban this Horrible Holi???