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Indian Festivals
Old Hindu madana-mahotsava-s.
There is the famous kAmotsava that is observed on chaitra shukla pakSha, dvAdashI (chaturdashi according to some) and this is widely referred to in saMskR^ita literature. But I recall that the paramAra rAjan bhoja-deva mentions several others in his tome on shR^i~NgAra. But not having the original text of the rAjan before me I had to rely on my memory and certain other sources for this discussion. Hence, I must mention that many of them are missed in this discussion (but I might update them once if I feel inclined to look up the text again).

In the shAradi set of ratyutsava-s bhojarAja mentions:
1) navapatrika; 2)bhisakhAdika; 3) kandukakrIDa; 4) yakSha rAtri; 5) kaumudI jAgara; 6)abhyuSha khAdika / ikShu-bhakShika; 7) chandrikA-lalana; 8) haMsa-lIlAvalokana; 9) sarit-pulina-keli; 10) bali krIDa.

Of these yakSha rAtrI is known to be over-night gaming festival that coincides with dIpAvalI/dIpotsava. Hence, if a festival corresponds to the navarAtrI it should be before it. In the dashakumAra charita of daNDin, chandrasenA states the following to mitragupta and koshadAsa:
prAptaiveyaM bhartr^I dArika kandukAvatI kanduka krIDitena devIM vindhyavAsinIm ArAdhayitum | anishiddha darshanA cheyam asmin kandukotsave | saphalam astu yuShmac chakShuH AgachChataM draShTuM |
My king’s daughter kandukAvatI has come to worship the goddess vindhyavAsinI. It is not forbidden to look at her during the ball-festival. May the object of you two’s vision be attained.

Here we see a juxtaposition of the kandukotsva with the worship of vindhyavAsinI, which might suggest that it coincided with the navarAtri. As per the descriptions, navapatrika happens when the meadows are lush with grass following the monsoons. On those green meadows the participants engage in drinking and kAma keli. In the bhisakhAdika the guys hold lotus stalks in their teeth while the girls bite them off. Going by the time allotted to the season of autumnal festivals these two were possibly slightly earlier in the year and therefore before navarAtri in my opinion. The remaining utsava-s that follow dIpAvalI, include kaumudI jAgara, which is also mentioned by vAtsyAyana as the kaumudI mahotsava (also the name of a book of fiction by an early authoress vijjakA), a time suitable for initiating kAmabandha-s. It survives to this date in parts of India where flavored milk is drunk along with revelry on terraces. The abhyuSha and ikShu eating festivals appear to correspond to what in the drAviDa country is observed as the kArttika festival. The abyuSha (puffed-rice balls) is still made in the drAviDa country though the ikShu is eaten on other occasions such as pongal. The festival chandrikA-lalana was an overnight revelry when the moon was at its highest in the autumns. The haMsa-lIlAvalokana involved watching migratory water birds return to their nesting grounds in jambudvIpa, whereas the sarit-pulina-keli was revelry on the sand banks of streams.
In winter there were some more utsava-s like the blindman’s buff festival and the peculiar shuka-sArikAlApa-abhyasana. In this latter festivity young men and women tried to teach parrots and mynahs to speak.

According to bhojadeva there was another remarkable festival in spring that might have overlapped with the spring navarAtri or according to others with the vaTa festival. The polymath hemAdri also notes this festival but seems to assign a different date. This was called pa~nchAlAnuyAna or bhUta-mAtR^ikA or bhairavotsava. Here an image of bhUtamAtR^ikA and in some cases bhairava was installed and worshipped. The image was then carried forth with young women following, decked in fine costumes. They engaged in amorous dances letting their garments slip, wearing of ghost-masks and shmashAnAbhinaya (enactment of phantom apparitions from the cemetery). In spring bhojadeva mentions other utsava-s like:
udakakShveDikA involved young men and women sprinkling each other with colored water from pistons. This seems to have been incorporated in to holikA in some parts of the land whereas in the mahArATTa country the old udakakShveDikA used to survive in my days as a vulgar form on a pa~nchami day festival in spring.
chutalatika involved young women approaching their male counterparts and striking one of them with a mango twig to chose them as their jAra.
ashoka-dohada was a bacchanalic revelry for young women in which they ornamented their feet and embraced and kicked an ashoka tree. Then they spat chewed betel leaves and alcoholic beverages on the tree.
Finally there was also some ratyotsava associated with the great indradhvaja festival according to certain traditions.
[size="5"]Significance of Holi[/size]

In spite of being such a colourful and gay festival, there are various aspects of Holi which makes it so significant for our lives. Though they might not be so apparent but a closer look and a little thought will reveal the significance of Holi in more ways than meets the eyes. Ranging from socio-cultural, religious to biological there is every reason why we must heartily enjoy the festival and cherish the reasons for its celebrations.

So when, its time for Holi, please don't hold yourself back and enjoy the festival to the hilt by participating with full enthusiasm in every small tradition related to the festival.

Mythological Significance

Holi gets us close to our religion and our mythology as it is essentially the celebration of various legends associated with the festival.

Foremost is the legend of Prahlad and Hiranyakshyap. The legend says there once lived a devil and powerful king, Hiranyakshyap who considered himself a god and wanted everybody to worship him. To his great ire, his son, Prahlad began to worship, Lord Vishnu. To get rid of his son, Hiranyakshyap asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap, as she had a boon to enter fire unscathed. Legend has it that Prahlad was saved for his extreme devotion for the lord while Holika paid a price for her sinister desire. The tradition of burning Holika or the 'Holika dahan' comes mainly from this legend.

Holi also celebrates the legend of Radha and Krishna which describes the extreme delight, Krishna took in applying colour on Radha and other gopis. This prank of Krishna later, became a trend and a part of the Holi festivities.

Mythology also states that Holi is the celebration of death of Ogress Pootana who tried to kill infant, Krishna by feeding poisonous milk to it.

Another legend of Holi which is extremely popular in Southern India is that of Lord Shiva and Kaamadeva. According to the legend, people in south celebrate the sacrifice of Lord of Passion Kaamadeva who risked his life to revoke Lord Shiva from meditation and save the world.

Also, popular is the legend of Ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Raghu and was ultimately chased away by the pranks of the children on the day of Holi. Showing their belief in the legend, children till date play pranks and hurl abuses at the time of Holika Dahan.

Cultural Significance

Celebration of the various legends associated with Holi reassure the people of the power of the truth as the moral of all these legends is the ultimate victory of good over evil. The legend of Hiranyakashyap and Prahlad also points to the fact that extreme devotion to god pays as god always takes his true devotee in his shelter.

All these legends help the people to follow a good conduct in their lives and believe in the virtue of being truthful. This is extremely important in the modern day society when so many people resort to evil practices for small gains and torture one who is honest. Holi helps the people to believe in the virtue of being truthful and honest and also to fight away the evil.

Besides, holi is celebrated at a time of the year when the fields are in full bloom and people are expecting a good harvest. This gives a people a good reason to rejoice, make merry and submerge themselves in the spirit of Holi.

Social Significance

Holi helps to bring the society together and strengthen the secular fabric of our country. For, the festival is celebrated by non-Hindus also as everybody like to be a part of such a colouful and joyous festival.

Also, the tradition of the Holi is that even the enemies turn friends on Holi and forget any feeling of hardship that may be present. Besides, on this day people do not differentiate between the rich and poor and everybody celebrate the festival together with a spirit of bonhomie and brotherhood.

In the evening people visit friends and relatives and exchange gifts, sweets and greetings. This helps in revatalising relationships and strengthening emotional bonds between people.

Biological Significance

It is interesting to note that the festival of Holi is significant for our lives and body in many other ways than providing joy and fun.

We also need to thank our forefathers who started the trend of celebrating Holi at such a scientifically accurate time. And, also for incorporating so much fun in the festival.

As Holi comes at a time of the year when people have a tendency to feel sleepy and lazy. This is natural for the body to experiences some tardiness due to the change from the cold to the heat in the atmosphere. To counteract this tardiness of the body, people sing loudly or even speak loudly. Their movements are brisk and their music is loud. All of this helps to rejuvenate the system of the human body.

Besides, the colours when sprayed on the body have a great impact on it. Biologists believe the liquid dye or Abeer penetrates the body and enters into the pores. It has the effect of strengthening the ions in the body and adds health and beauty to it.

There is yet another scientific reason for celebrating the 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 Fahrenhiet. Following the tradition when people perform Parikrima (circumambulation or going around) around the fire, the heat from the fire kills the bacteria in the body thus, cleansing it.

The way Holi is celebrated in south, the festival also promotes good health. For, the day after the burning of Holika people put ash (Vibhuti) on their forehead and they would mix Chandan (sandalpaste) with the young leaves and flowers of the Mango tree and consume it to promote good health.

Some also believe that play with colours help to promote good health as colours are said to have great impact on our body and our health. Western-Physicians and doctors believe that for a healthy body, colours too 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.

People also clean-up their houses on 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 energies.

Onam Vazhthugal to all the Malayali Hindus out there.
Shubha Krishnashtami to everyone.
happy janmashtami

hare krsna
Happy Janamastami to everyone.
Shubha Ganesh Chaturthi.
[color="#8B0000"]SHUBH DIWALI[/color][size="7"][/size]

LUCKNOW: Lord Hanuman has become net savvy. He now has a website (www.sankatmochan.org) and a profile on the social networking site Facebook.

The initiative has come from the Sankat Mochan Temple Trust that runs the Hanuman Setu temple in the city. Taking a cue, even the lord of Hanuman Garhi in Ayodhya has opened an account on Facebook.

Chhoti Diwali happens to be the birthday of Lord Hanuman. His ardent devotees are ready to celebrate the occasion in Lucknow and Ayodhya, and this time one can expect them to make a beeline at Lord's Facebook profile too.

Read more: Now, write on Hanuman's FB wall - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/...z14H72sihN
Shubha Deepavali to everyone.

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