The vibrant and colorful festival of Holi is really close and the preparations and celebrations are already at its high pace. With the increased craze and unity of diverse cultures, this festival is not only popular among Hindus but also among non-Hindus in many parts of South Asia, as well as in parts of Europe and North America.
Celebrations, however, start with a Holika Pujan on the night before Holi where people gather, sing and dance. This puja is a very significant part of the whole festival. Although it is usually associated with the bon-fire or Holika Dahan in the late pre-evening of Holi, it starts way before.
Focusing at the scientific importance of Holika Dahan, it is vital for cleansing the bacteria and germs generated in the mutation period of winter and spring. The high temperature while burning the woods i.e. almost 145 degrees Fahrenheit removes the harmful germs and bacteria from the atmosphere and also from our bodies when we revolve around it. It is the period when people feel lethargic and drowsy. Holi provides them the opportunity to wear off their laziness, by enjoying themselves thoroughly.
On this occasion, burning the Holika signifies an end to all the evil thoughts and getting rid of all the sins. Thus, at this time, if you ask for any good things while mother Holika is burning then they will come true. Various Indian cultures even consider it to be integral in the form of long-life of the husband and a prosperous married life. Not only this, the left over ashes from the dahan if collected by people on the next day constitutes of the actual holi-prasad and smearing it on limbs of the body purifies and heals them.
Thus apart from colors and fun filled-frolic celebrations, Holi and its traditions hold lot more for us.
The nine blissful days of navratri boosts the devotees with positivity and strength. These days finally comes to an end by celebrating the glory of positivity over negativity and praying for retaining these blessings throughout the year. The auspicious festival of Vijaya Dashami or Dussehra is a reminder of getting rid of evil traits and inculcating the positive sanskars.
Apart from the huge history of Ram-Ravana battle and victory of goodness over evil, the festival inspires us to quit our deviation towards material world. In the busy world of materialism all of us are running after external comforts and achievements. We are far away from focussing on our internal health and comfort. Due to this shift in focus, the world has turned upside down.
These nine days followed by the festival of Dussehra marks the victory of a devotee where the focus is returned back to the base. The devotees seek forgiveness for their mistakes and realize the power of goodness within them. The Goddess Shakti bestows the devotee to choose the path of positivity and live with internal and external bliss. The self-purification process makes this process easier and also inspires the sadhaks to retain this divinity around and within.
May Goddess Durga bless each one of us with supreme grace and may these blissful days become our style of living.
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Goddess Saraswati is the store house of knowledge and wisdom, and the lover of art and music. Lord Brahma, the divine consort of Goddess Saraswati, creates the beautiful Universe and Sarsawati ji completes the process by showering the knowledge required for comprehending the creation.
The pious and serene state of Goddess is depicted by her vahan i.e. swan. The pure white swan portrays the selfless realization of true knowledge and also the discrimination between the eternal and mortal. The Goddess is also accompanied with a peacock near her image that signifies the ignorant attitude and how one is tangled in the deceptive charm of beauty. By mounting on the peacock, Saraswati ji teaches that the external appearance is transitory and should not be given priority. It’s the divine inner soul that needs to be focused and revered.
Lord Vishnu: Serpent and Garuda
Lord Vishnu also known as Narayana is the maintainer who sustains the entire creation. Lord Vishnu is the strength to maintain goodness in the Universe and he is also the remover of darkness of illusion. The connection between Lord Vishnu and his ‘sesha naag’ is renowned where the Lord rests upon sesha’s form of snake. Sesha means ‘balance’, thus the Lord is laid upon him. Snake is a symbol of time, eternity and wisdom that shows the controller of time representing the absolute truth of life.
Garuda, the eagle god is also the Vahana of Lord Vishnu that is well known for its speed and mighty wings. At one instance, Garuda wanted a place even higher than Lord Vishnu but as he got acquainted of the powers of Lord Vishnu, he became his faithful devotee by surrendering himself as his vehicle. It symbolise the numerous flying thoughts of mortals and the way they are controlled by the Almighty.
Lord Shiva: Nandi bull
Lord Shiva is the embodiment of creating as well as destroying. He is worshipped for his supreme powers and signifies the union of duality with Goddess Shakti. The vehicle of lord Shiva, Nandi bull symbolise the brutal and aggressive attitude of humans. By mounting on the top of the bull, lord Shiva tames the evil energies and also controls the sexual impulses. Shiva controls the negative impulses by riding on its back and teaches the important lesson to mankind.
Goddess Durga: Lion
Goddess Durga, another form of Parvati ji is the ferocious depiction of powerful and warrior Goddess. She is the widely adored deity renowned for female energy or Shakti. Goddess Durga with three eyes and ten arms is mounted on the golden hairy lion that symbolise the removal of dark night through bright golden light. Defeating the demon Mahishasura, mounting on the lion represents the ferocious and wild nature of both the Goddess and her vehicle. The lion acts as the celestial vehicle and portrays the lordly powers of wild beast.
Lord Ganesha: Mouse
The one without whom every important work is incomplete and without whose grace our life is doomed is our own beloved Ganesha. The remover of all our obstacles, Ganesha is the store house of knowledge, wisdom and intelligence. Lord Ganesh is often seen riding the tiny moshika raj ‘mouse’ as his vehicle which is considered weak. Mouse is related with destructive traits that spoils the food and crops, especially. Here the mouse connotes the human mind that destroys the mental peace due to evil thoughts and energies, but by mounting on the devil energies, Lord Ganesha crushes them. The faithful devotion is depicted by bestowing a peaceful mind to the devotee and teaching us the power of goodness and faith.
Lord Brahma: Seven swans
Lord Brahma is the supreme deity known for creation of this Universe. He is upmost source of knowledge and his consort Goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom. Brahma ji is known for the creation of Vedas that are the base of knowledge for this Universe. The four head and four armed God is the symbol of four vedas, four maha yugas and the fourfold social order. He is seen mounted on the chariot lead by seven swans as swan is the symbol of knowledge and discretionary powers. Swan is known for purity that teaches us to make right decisions in our life. Swan is also known for separating milk from the mixture of milk and water that reveals the characteristic trait of Lord Brahma to make fine distinction while creating the Universe.
Goddess Lakshmi: Owl
The Goddess of prosperity and wealth is the consort of Sri Mahavishnu and is highly revered by the Hindu devotees. She is the store house of wealth, good luck, fortune, beauty, charm and riches that defines her power of showering unlimited blessings. The vehicle of goddess Lakshmi, an owl or ‘uluka’ is often a negative connotation; therefore it is considered to be associated with Alakshmi (Goddess of inauspiciousness). It is believed that during the Samudra manthan, Lakshmi was born out of Amrit and Alakshmi emerged with Halahal. As owl is known for its nocturnal activity, it is associated with ill omen but for few the ability of owl to see only in darkness symbolise the capability of going from darkness to light i.e. materialism to spiritualism. The figure of owl with the Goddess is a reminder that the wealth and fortune are a trap and our inner conscious and wisdom keeps us away from the ‘adharmik’ use of that fortune.
Lord Indra: Airavata
The most powerful and excellent warrior, known as the King of Devas and also the God of War and Weather. The term Indra is derived from a Sanskrit word ‘Ind’ meaning to be powerful and the one who defeats his enemy. He is even renowned for his arrogant traits, yet he is the chief deity in Rig Veda. To maintain dharma in all three lokas and fight against evil powers, Lord Indra is the heroic protagonist. The four tusked, white elephant is the vahana of this deity, which is said to have emerged during Samudra manthan. The mighty elephant is renowned for protecting the gates of paradise as well as other miracles. It is said that Airavata gathered water from the large lakes of Udaygiri Mountains and showers it in the direction of lord Indra; thus holding the ability of giving rise to clouds or pouring rain. The pious and spotless white creature is a symbol of purity and is known to be created during the beginning of life by Lord Brahma.
Lord Vayu: Thousands of horse
The great personification of wind, Lord Vayu is known as the initial partaker of soma juice. He is a dear friend of lord Indra and given equal respect and weightage. He is as swift as mind and also called as the God of Thoughts. He is one of the major elements of the five elements of the Universe and is also described as ‘Satata-ga’ (ever moving), ‘Pavana’ (wind), and ‘Gandha-vaha’ (the perfume bearer). He is the guardian of North West direction and the father of Lord Hanuman and Bheema. Vayu devta is often shown riding forty nine or thousand horses that helps to cover long distances swiftly within few seconds. Horse is known for its swift and mighty powers and is often symbolised as notorious and fast mind that flies from one thought to another in just few seconds. By climbing upon these horses, Lord Vayu tames the swift thoughts and brings stability and calmness in our mind. The white coloured horses that cover all the three lokas of the world are a symbol of victory over our evil and negative thoughts.
Contributed By: Meenakshi Ahuja