Holi, the festival of colours is celebrated on the full moon of Phalgun month. Bidding adieu to the prolonged winter nights, people throughout the country gear up to welcome the hues of spring. The harvest season begins and it is a prompt for countrymen to take a departure from the winter hibernation and lethargy.
The celebration with water and colours is preceded by Holika Dahan, a ritual of setting up a pyre with twigs, pieces of wood and combustible material found in nature. Besides the widely known mythological aspect of good over evil, Ayurveda beautifully explains the reasoning behind this tradition. The change in temperature and season provokes the growth of microbes in the body and atmosphere. By setting up the pyre, the temperature of the surrounding rises, killing the heat-sensitive bacteria and any impurities in the environment and in those walking around the fire. The heat of the fire is said to eliminate the built-up Kapha thus paving a way for a healthy body.
The next day begins with people coming together, fists full of colours and hearts filled with joy and enthusiasm. In earlier times, the colours were extracted from dried petals and leaves as well as Ayurvedic herbs such as Henna. The hibiscus flowers offered a pink-red colour, the Tesu tree flowers were used for orange, turmeric powder and marigold plant was for yellow, Henna yielded a green dye and the list continues. These colours, to date, remain the best alternative and are absolutely harmless to the skin. Contrary to the synthetic colours available in the market now, these natural colours did not cause rashes, allergies or clog pores. In fact, most of these extracts are now used in Ayurvedic cosmetics and skincare to boost the skin’s glow.
The consumption and distribution of Thandai, a milk-based beverage, is one of the oldest traditions associated with Holi. According to Ayurveda, our diet and other lifestyle approaches must be modified according to the seasons. This is known as Ritucharya, guidelines given by Ayurveda to have a smooth transition between changing seasons. The rising heat saps the body of its fluids and the consumption of Thandai helps combat this situation. It is quite interesting that these age-old practices were backed by scientific facts and hold true to date. The cool, energizing and calcium-rich Thandai prepare the body for the seasonal transition. Prepared with spices such as saffron rich in vitamin A, almonds rich in vitamin E and rose petals that cool down the body’s temperature, this traditional recipe has a wide range of health benefits. Additionally, the fennel seeds are incorporated since they also have a cooling property and an antioxidant effect.
All in all, Holi symbolizes rejuvenation of the body and the mind. Breaking all societal barriers, this festival encourages people to hug and mend broken relationships and embrace all the love.
A very happy and safe Holi to all our readers!