Saturday, June 7, 2014

The Holi Spirit


Spring is celebrated throughout the world in many form of festivities. In Indian culture, as the vernal equinox marks the beginning of spring, people ignite the bonfires before the color war turns as revels.
In welcoming spring, The Indian Embassy in association with PT. Jaya Ancol, conducting an event, named “Colors of India”. The two-day festival represents the array of Indian cultural events completed by several attractive frolics from the artits trained by the Jawaharlal Nehru Indian Cultural Centre (JNICC). The night was filled with such powerful beats fusing with trembling motions of the Indian dancers.
The event was officially launced by the Indian Ambassador to Indonesia, ASEAN, and Timor Leste, on Friday March 21, while the event itself held for two nights.
First night was opened with the photo exhibition showing the strong bilateral relationship between the two countries, themed at “Six Decades of India and Indonesia Relationship”. The Indian Ambassador to Indonesia, ASEAN, and Timor Leste, Gurjit Singh made a remarks during the press conference aiming at enhancing the people-to-people contacts, targetting young Indonesians.
The exhibition took place at the North Art Space, Pasar Seni [Night Art Market] Ancol, Jakarta, capturing India-Indonesia relationship which dates back from time immemorial referring to both countries’ vibrant decades.
Besides the bilateral documentations, the exhibition was also depicting the illustrious bollywood movie industry by organizing a movie screening. While the second day filled with smearing and splashing color ritual.
“The colored powder are part of the celebration in welcoming spring, to show the colors of nature,” Indian Ambassador to Indonesia, ASEAN, and Timor Leste, Gurjit Singh told me on Friday right before the Grand Opening of the event.
Singh exuberantly explained that Holi festival was celebrated on the different day depending on the lunar calender, thereby the date changed every year.

On the day of holi festival, the entire sights filled with gulal and abeer that symbolize the hues of spring. Gulal is made of dyed flour, while abeer is the glittery paper that added into gulal to create lustrous shades to the color battle.
Several essential colors in holi tradition, represent different philosopical meanings. Red explains chastity, green is interpreted as vitality and energy. While composure and calmness is expressed through blue, and yellow shows piety.
These days, after holi festival is widely celebrated, the materials of gulal and abeer are sometimes dangerous. The colors that was extracted from natural coloring substances, such as flowers is now subtituted by the harmful chemical coloring matters. In fact, Indian enviornmental groups is striving to disseminate the awareness of using more natural way in commemorating holi.
“[Toxic chemicals that contained in gulal] can cause health problems, so we are applying with more organic colors, and less chemical colors. It is very eco-friendly,” Singh emphasized.
Besides celebrating holi festival with colors, he further said that in India people usually gather in a Summer Camp. “It is a big festival when we have a lot of fun a lot of jokes. So it is a big day we celebrate,” Singh added.
What lies beneath the rites

Too many historical sources, and different chimerical stories lies beneath the ancient Hindu religious festival. It is said that holi was initially started by igniting holika, known as the bonfire, was derived by the story of the legend of Holika and Prahlad.
It is believed, a demon king, Hiranyakashyap commanded everybody to worship him. On the contrary, his own son, Prahlad became an obidient devotee of Lord Naarayana. Prahlad was repetantly saved by the Lord Vishnu from trial for premeditated murder by his own father. After all such, Hiranyakashyap asked his sister that blessed with boon, Holika to kill Prahlad by carrying him into flaming fire. Holika didn’t realize that even she could escape from fire unscathed using her boon, she only could do that all alone.
While Holika was being razed by fire, Prahlad kept praying in the name of Lord Naarayana. His worship as an obidient devotee made his life saved. Thereby, ‘Holi’ brought from Holika which marks the triumph of good over evil.
Aside from the story of Holika, the colorful downpour and throwing hues ritual also has its own story. It was when the little Krishna –the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu in Hinduism- felt so jealous due to his dark complexion compared to his lover, Radha. While Krishna felt so dark and Radha was so fair. Krishna intended to put a prank on Radha using color, until both of them are looked alike. By that story, throwing colors during the festival can be seen as the expression of love.
In the famous Indian culture, devotion contributes huge role. Not only shown in its festival, but also applicated in other forms such as science that explains the enormously popular yoga.
“Yoga is the science of health and healing,” said Ravi Dixit, an experienced yoga guru. It is believed that Yoga, was nothing but life style. Ravi Dixit explained during a Yoga consultation session at the Night Art Market, that Yoga meant enjoying life in a balanced version.
He said that yoga was a package of science when body, mind, and emotion in total coordination. “Yoga takes care of your emotion, mind, andbody, and remember Yoga has nothing to do with any religion,” he added.
Yoga was formulated under the social and personal principles called “ashtanga” or “eight limbs of yoga”, concerning ethical and moral conduct. There are Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, and Samdhi.
“In short, Yoga means discipline, determination, and devotion as shown in the spirit of holi festival,” said Ravi Dixit.
A woman gets inked. Mehndi or Henna in Indian tradition is applied during special Hindu weddings and Hindu festivals used for women’s palm.

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Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja