Banaras(Varanasi) the holy ancient city of India and the world, is the perfect blend of all Colors of life, the epitome for art, culture, beauty, tradition, mystery and spirituality. Banaras ( Varanasi ) has everything to offer for those who want life to live in it’s fullest and the purest form. This holy city is much more than just a place to live,living a Banarasi lifestyle itself gives a meaning to your life. This city is alive in every way, the enigmatic aura of this city binds you from your core which gives you an irresistible hunger to unlock the mystery of this city.
This is the city of celebration, Banaras has the unique way to celebrate every festival, every occasion, one such festival which is celebrated in Varanasi and is famous in INDIA is HOLI. HOLI is the festival of colours, which is also one of the major festival of Hindu religion and is widely celebrated all over India with huge anthusiasm and love. We put Colors on everyone ,we throw Colors balloons on each other, we dance,we play, we drink bhang2 , we again play with Colors, we dance again, we drink bhang again. It continues the whole day. In the evening we clean up and dress well and go to the relatives or relatives come to us and again we play with colors( this time with dry natural flower Colors) and again we drink bhang. It’s full madness the whole day.
Holi is a one of the ancient festival celebrated with high enthusiasm in Hindu religion. This is one of the major festivals for Hindus. This festival is celebrated because a evil king named HIRANYAKASHYAP has a disbelief in Lord Vishnu( one of the Trinity BHRAMHA ,VISHNU, MAHESH who created universe and humanity) but his son named Prahalad was huge devotee of lord Vishnu. So the evil king sent his evil sister Holika to kill Prahalad because Holika was gifted by the power that she will be unburned if exposed to fire. So she took Prahalad and sat on burning wood but what happens next was unexpected Holika burned herself and Prahalad was safe and unharmed. So Holi is celebrated because good wins over evil.
Banaras(Varanasi) celebrates HOLI in its own unique way. The three major ingredients which is necessary for a banarasi to play holi are
1) Colors (ofcourse)
2) Bhang (is an edible preparation of cannabis originating from the Indian subcontinent.)& Thandai.
3) HAR HAR MAHADEV chantings.
(is an Indian cold drink/ health drink prepared with a mixture of almonds, fennel seeds, watermelon kernels, cannabis, rose petals, pepper, vetiver seeds, cardamom, saffron, milk and sugar.)
The combinations of these three ingredients makes a Banarasi perfect Holi material. Without Bhang mixed with Thandai Holi festival is incomplete. The Holi festival of Banaras is famous in all over India, the way Banaras celebrates holi is the reason it catches everyones eye and who ever celebrates holi in banaras takes a lifetime experiance back home. The enjoyment and the uniqueness is incomparable. Groups of people in total disorder roaming around the city shouting , dancing , playing Holi with random stranger and he/she plays with same enthusiasm.The phag( folk song sung on the HOLI festival) song played all over the city.
All of this gives a mesmerizing picture of the city and festival.
Before the day of Holi there are two main occassions without which Holi of Banaras is incomplete. The first one is RANG BHARI EKADASHI and on the next day MASAN HOLI then after these two occasions we celebrate HOLI the night after Holika is burned.
Image source:- Google.
RANG BHARI EKADASHI
Banaras (varanasi) is the land of lord Shiva everything starts here and ends here in the name of lord shiva . The people of varanasi start Holi by celebrating with LORD SHIVA with the colors made by natural flowers in the premises of Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It is said that lord Shiva brings MAA PARVATI( Mother goddess of hindu religion, one of the Trinity in Goddess with MAA LAXMI the goddess of wealth MAA SARASWATI the goddess of knowledge, She is also known as ADI SHAKTI means the primordial power) home this day after marriage which held few days before RANG BHARI EKADSHI which we call and celebrate as MAHASHIVRATRI.
Holi played with the ash of pyre’s and gulal( dry color) on shamshan ghat( cremation ground).
Image source:- Google.
As mentioned earlier here in Banaras everything starts with the name of LORD SHIVA and ends with the name of LORD SHIVA so as life in Banaras people come here from the corners of the world the live life and understand the meaning of being alive and also they come here to die. Yes the older people come Varanasi to attain MOKSHA ( salvation ) it said that if you die a natural death in Varanasi your soul will become free of the cycle of rebirth and attain MOKSHA( salvation ). So we can say that we Banarasi celebrate life as well as death.
So Varanasi has the biggest sacred shamshan ghat (cremation ground) for hindu religion known as MANIKARNIKA GHAT. The connection of manikarnika ghat with HOLI is that after RANG BHARI EKADASHI were LORD SHIVA celebrate holi with people with gulal( dry color) he comes to shamshan ghat to play holi with his ethreal ganas( followers) like ghost and other supernatural beings.
So it is a very ancient tradition to play holi on shamshan ghat ( cremation ground) with ashes of pyres and gulal.
First the devout offer prayer to MAHASHAMSHAN NATH the lord of cremation ground then they start playing HOLI with colors , gulal( dry color ) and ashes of the pyre’s. They dance on the song enjoy celebrate this ancient sacred tradition.
So after these two occassions the HOLI is celebrated with colors, joy and happiness and message of ‘good always wins the evil’ spreads along with beautiful colors and enthusiasm of people.
Banaras is full of life and ways to enjoy it and live to it’s meaning. Celebration of HOLI festival in its unique way is one of them. The whole city is immersed in drunkenness of Colors and Bhang whole day. The love and enthusiasm is spread all over the city. The youngesters, the elders, the childrens everyone enjoys HOLI with the same spirit. It’s like huge music concert and this city is huge platform where everyone Is high on spiritual self and dancing unconsciously on the music of life forgetting all the worries past, present and future and submitting themselves to the divinity and magic of this festival.
© Sankshep-The summary 2019