Today, March 2, marks the first day of the Hindu celebration Holi (pronounced holy). We will be discussing the origins of this Hindu Festival and if you haven’t heard the episode that I did with my wife about our experience with this festival and celebration surrounding it, I encourage you to go listen. You can find it at the One Way Podcast site, the episode is called “Holi Moli Color Vibe”.
Before we get into what the origins of Holi is, let’s look at how the media is promoting this festival. When doing a quick Google search on Holi 2018 you will find that the results we are given do not accurately represent its meaning. Holi has not always been promoted so boldly as a Hindu festival until recently in America. You will usually get the most popular results first for anything that is growing in popularity. This is how the media will get the people to lean towards any particular belief. Many go with what the majority preach on social topics so if Google can produce the results that are widely accepted on something, society as a whole will begin to believe that those ways are true.
Looking at the Google results, CNN made the top result with an article called “Why India Celebrates Holi”. The article contains three major parts. It opens with a video that indicates that whatever Holi may actually be, on the surface it is fun and exciting and it is something that the whole family should participate in. Next there is a section that tries to explain how Holi is viewed in today’s society. Finally, it ends with a brief overview of the roots of the Holiday. The way this article was set up, we can understand that it is clearly swaying people to a certain direction. It puts the fun side of this festival first and then separates today’s views and practices from the original purpose. You will be more attracted to what is going on now then you would have before. In other words, whatever the reason was that it was celebrated, it isn’t why it is celebrated today. And that is false advertising all around. How do you think the Hindus must feel about this corruption of their festival?
The next Google result on the list for Holi is an article by The Mirror called “Happy Holi 2018! What is the meaning behind the Hindu Festival of Colours, top facts and how to celebrate in UK”. It is almost an exact mirror replica of what CNN did. The beginning of the article states this quote:
Peace and love are the best reasons to celebrate, and thanks to the Holi Festival of Colours, we can all do it in the bright hues of a rainbow.
So with this initial statement, we are throwing away the roots of the celebration altogether, and thus leaning towards a new reason for celebrating this tradition. The statement uses general reasons and emotions of life to justify why we should do anything that relates to those emotions.
This festival has only been recognized in America for a short number of years now and we can see in the media it is growing in popularity. It is no surprise that Google has dedicated their daily doodle to this celebration.
Contend For The Faith
From a Christian’s standpoint, we are directed to serve the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength. We are not to defile ourselves with other gods nor the practices to other gods. There are many people who will reject this notion as a whole as they will say that they are not directly serving the other god by name but rather are only doing the family friendly side of this celebration, and thus it is ok to do.
However, we do not see this to be a true way of living in scripture. What we do see is that God commands his people to stay away, not only from the literal and physical worship of false gods, but also to stay away from the practices the nations did to celebrate their false gods. The only way that we know we are not falling into the traps of false celebrations is to understand the origins of things that we do in our daily life. There is a point where ignorance is okay in your life but as scripture says we need to grow up and mature ourselves in the word of God. We cannot always live by spiritual milk but need to transition from that milk to the meat of the Gospel which is to turn from this flesh and to seek God. Once we have come to the knowledge of the truth, we are required to walk in that truth.
But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.
The Holi celebration is comprised of two major Hindu legends that contain elements that are used to celebrate. This alone shows us that even when we try to remove the true meaning of the celebration we cannot escape the entirety of it as the belief has been engraved in the very elements used to practice it.
Holi is celebrated in the honour of the Hindu god Vishnu, creator of the universe, and his follower Prahlada. It is also celebrated in honor of Krishna, the god of compassion, tenderness, and love.
According to a legend taught by the Indians, there was a King Hiranyakashipu who was the king of the Asuras (demons). This king had earned a wish that gave him five special powers that prevented him from being killed:
- by a human being or an animal
- indoors or outdoors
- at day nor at night
- by a weapon that is projected or by any handheld weapon
- on land, in water, or air
Thus Hiranyakashipu grew arrogant and thought of himself as God. He demanded that everyone worship him alone. However, Hiranyakashipu’s own son, Prahlada, refused to worship him as he was fully devoted to Vishnu. This infuriated Hiranyakashipu and he subjected Prahlada to cruel punishments, none of which affected the boy nor kept him from doing what he thought was right.
Finally, Holika, Prahlada’s evil aunt, tricked him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was wearing a cloak that made her immune to injury from fire, while Prahlada was not. As the fire roared, the cloak flew from Holika and encased Prahlada, who survived while Holika was burned alive.
Vishnu, in the form of Narasimha, a half human and half lion, took Hiranyakashyapu at dusk, at a doorstep, placed him on his lap, and then eviscerated and killed the king with his lion claws.
The second half the celebration is to honor Krishna. Krishna is the most widely worshiped god in the Hindu religion.
According to their legend, Krishna had blue skin because of a curse and a protection mechanism as there was decree to have him killed at birth. Some say that the skin was blue because of an aura that he gave. Regardless, his skin was blue and this was a burden to him at times in his life.
He fell in love with Radha and became envious of Radha’s appearance. At some point in the relationship, he smeared colors on her face so they could be equal in nature. There are also versions where nobody wanted to love Krishna because of his blue appearance so he painted Radha so she would love him back. With this trick that he played on Radha, their love connected and their romance blossomed. This deed has now been connected with the practices of throwing colors on loved ones.
For us to understand the significance of what we are doing when we celebrate Holi, let’s take a look at the elements involved. First off, the name Holi is derived from the demoness goddess Holika, which is the evil aunt that tried to kill her nephew for not worshipping his father, the demon god. So the holiday itself is called Holi and when we announce the celebration we say that we are “Celebrating Holi”.
Are the ones who are celebrating this festival actually celebrating the demoness goddess Holika? If not, then why name it Holi and not Vishnu? Jesus overtook Satan by defeating him on the Cross. Imagine if Christians celebrated the victory of Jesus with a week of celebration called “Satan”.
According to the story of Krishna, the colors we splash on our faces represent deceit, jealousy and hate, yet we use them as a symbol of love, kindness and unity. Does this seem odd to anyone? This seems quite opposite of what the colors really meant. This should not be a surprise to any believer as we know that in the last days the world will begin to call evil good and good evil.
You are not celebrating anything related to Jehovah God or Jesus Christ of Nazareth by participating in these rituals that only promote evil and hate. We can color and mask our traditions with words that attract the world all we want. The truth will always remain that the mouth will honor God but our hearts will be far from Him. Turn to the cross, let us leave the world to the world and come back to the Word.