By Mother Gandhari dasi
We are seeing that now more Iskcon centers are celebrating Holi with burning of Holika and throwing the colored dye festival. So there are some points to be mentioned about these celebrations. I was requested by a senior mataji to share this information.
So if there is anything incorrect please excuse me and add your comments. I will share something about Holi from Vedic point as much as I have learnt.
The coloured dyes are supposed to be thrown with love signifying blessing to the person “may auspicious, wealth, prosperity accompany you” It is not a wild jombory done in an indiscrimanetory way. It is a sign of jubilation that Holika is killed and Prahalad is saved. So it is signifying victory of good over evil. So in that sense it is spiritual.
Another significance is that it is also the beginning of spring. So as there is so much colour in nature inspiring the pro-creative spirit of in all beings including the plants, trees, animals and humans. After the Holi season all the other appearances of other incarnations of the Supreme Lord Krsna comes forth in the new Year besides the Varaha Avatar who places the earth back into its axis before holi. Holi in that way signifies the end of the winter, dark, gloomy season.
Even the Vedic weddings are normally supposed to be planned after the Holi season. Before the holi, it is considered not so auspicious. Therefore many weddings, celebrations and festivals take place after the Holi season, therefore the colours and celebrations are also for bringing in the new years festive seasons.
Although in India it is out of hand presently like many other things. Normally the coloured dye is only thrown to one’s close relatives and friends not to others wives. One will notice that mature Indian ladies will gently smear the red dye on the chicks of younger married ladies with so much love and affection. Single unmarried girls are usually spared because they do not have a husband yet. (But, since it is the celebrations of killing of holika, sometimes there is everyone participates in the game of coloured dye is played with immediate friends and relatives . But it is still good to point out these etiquette otherwise no one will know.
So one is careful about not throwing coloured dyes to the widows, because they do not have husbands and they are wearing white and do not wear bindis and coloured bangles, so in Vedic culture, out of respect for her ashram no one throws coloured dye at her. Colour means a living husband. Even the sanyasis and brahmacharis are spared from this sport which is meant for householders. Brahma - chari means one who is searching for the absolute truth.
So he is not so much interested in worlding enjoyment which are mainly there for grahasthas to increase loving bonds between family relations. Sanyasis do not take part in that either because he is considered socially dead so he does NOT take part in social activities of varnashram dharma which increase the attachment to body, mind and senses. We know that Lord Caitanya was playing holi pastime, but he was in the mood of gopis, enacting the pastimes of Lord Krsna with the gopis and Srimati Radharani. (Anyone want to add anything here)? The colour is mainly meant for married women teased by her younger brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law to give the blessings to increase longevity of her husband.
The women with a husband is always given the blessing of increased life of her husband (the blessing is called “Akhanda Saubhagyavati” may you always have all auspiciousness beginning with husband who is the provider of all other auspiciousness namely wealth, children and happiness. We also see that Srimati Radhika and Lord Krsna were also playing with coloured dyes. So it is more like a love sport in the water pastime as well.
Sometimes they are celebrating the Holifestival. Dwarkadhish and the queens were playing with colored dyes and water sports. In this pastime there is one very significant duty of a householder mentioned by Srila Prabhupada. The old clothes and the jewellery of the queens was donated to the sudras and servants where their needs are taken care. So Charity on auspicious days is very beneficial. One will also see Indian ladies bringing arti and puja trays from home to offer to the Holika fire. The would normally bring popcorn, dates and dried roasted chick peas called (dariya in gujarati) and a puja coconut with the husk some water, kum kum, flowers, and an oil lamp.
They offer arti, coconut and all the other ingredients and circumbulate the fire four times. They are praying to Holika to spare their sons. Asking her not to harm their sons. They will offer her coconut instead (which is offered in the place of a human). Since she is a demoness, other lowly items are offered because she came to kill the boy prahalad. It was not a great thing Holika was doing. Iskcon temples can make available these puja trays for guests at various festivals for some laxmi, it can bring some revenue. Every mother with a boy child usually offers this puja to Holika to save her child from the fire of Holika. So this is one of the vedic rituals which I learnt growing up in Gujarati culture.
This is part of karma kanda ritual similar to Lord Dwarkadish’s playing water sports with his queens signifying taking care of all household duties and festivals. Some pandits or yajnic brahmans can shed some more light.