Holi is a celebration of joy, goodness and the season of spring. Although Holi is a Hindu festival, its spirit encompasses all communities and sections of society. Muslim kings, including Humayun and Akbar, patronised Holi celebrations during their rule. Even today, people of different faiths are invited to Holi Milan events, where they meet and greet each other and share sweets.
The festival is associated with mal utsav, smearing of colours and the Holika bonfire, in which dry sticks and cow dung are set alight and corn seeds are burnt to the point of losing their power to germinate. The fire represents the burning away of what is old and worn out.
Letting a bonfire burn symbolises the sublimation of coarse human nature. Since it is the dryness, hardness and harshness of human traits that gives pain to oneself and others, these need to be sublimated in the subtle bonfire of meditation. Regular communion with the Supreme Soul, the Purifier, is the key to getting rid of evil tendencies and empowering and enriching oneself with virtues and spiritual powers.
The bonfire that burns away evil enjoins participants to desist from demonic thoughts and actions and light the inner fire of spiritual wisdom.
Colours applied on each other symbolise decorating oneself and others with the divine colours of universal peace, love, harmony and brotherhood.
Another central message of the Holi festival is to let bygones be bygones, that is, bury the hatchet and start anew in the spirit of spring.
On the spiritual path as well as in temporal matters, there can be no renewal or progress unless one lets go of the past and focuses on the present to create a better future.
Past mistakes often weigh us down with guilt and regret, making us feel unworthy, and damaging thought patterns and habits return again and again, causing pain and they sully the soul. These feelings cannot be overcome by brooding or moping. While a mistake does leave a stain on one’s life, repeatedly thinking about it only darkens the stain.
To stop being hostage to unhappy memories or pernicious habits, one needs to make a healthy break from the past by learning from mistakes and resolving not to repeat them.
The way to remove the effect of past negative actions is to perform charitable deeds that will bring merit. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction, and we reap what we sow. This is a universal that law warns us of the consequences of bad karma and encourages us to do good karma.
Positive and charitable actions lift our spirits and bring benefit to others. They keep the mind engaged in a healthy way, help forge good relationships, and, when done repeatedly, create the habit of doing good.
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© 2017 State Times Daily Newspaper