By Vishakha Moghe
“Holi is a time to reach out with the colors of joy. It is the time to love and forgive. It is the time that expresses the happiness of being loved and to be loved through colors.”
It’s that time of the year yet again! It’s in the air; it’s all over the streets. India is awash with colors today. Holi falls on the full moon of the Vedic month of Falgun (mostly in March). The festival is celebrated joyously all across India with great pomp and vigor. The festival of colors also announces the rejuvenation in the form of spring; the end of colder days and the beginning of warmer days.
What’s really happening inside our bodies are subtle transformations, leaving our bodies feeling vulnerable. Winters are about strength, good health and harmony; Spring being the exact opposite. Sudden rise in the temperature along with the increasing humidity; such drastic changes in temperature are seen at no other time of the year. The previously accumulated Kapha (phlegm) starts melting with the heat, leading to many Kapha-related diseases in the body. It’s a relief to shed those winter clothes, hats and boots though it’s not always easy to shed those extra pounds that we may have put on during the winter.
In India, the Hindus follow the seasons according to the Hindu calendar. The Indian festivals aren’t just about unity and togetherness, a closer look and a little thought will reveal the significance of every festival and the rituals that come along with them. Holi is largely a North-Indian festival announcing the arrival of spring and more or less falls in the month of March every year. Come spring and we have an array of infections and ailments affecting the body and mind, the reason being a sudden increase in the bacteria that eagerly await wet conditions. The rising heat saps the body of its fluids, leaving it in peril and low on immunity. Amazingly, the ancient societies had their own ways of combating these adverse conditions.
On the day of Holi, as part of the rituals, people get together in large numbers and light fire. They perform “Parikrama” or move around the fire. The heat of the fire helps the body to get rid of the accumulated Kapha, thus preventing diseases that could be caused by the liquefied Kapha. People indulge in heavy activities like shouting slogans and walking briskly around the fire, all of which lead to the digestion of the increased phlegm; thereby rejuvenating the body and mind. Offerings of grains like wheat and barley are made to the Holi bonfire.
The most interesting aspect of this festival is the playful throwing of natural colored medicinal powders all over the streets and over each other. The powders are traditionally prepared from Ayurvedic herbs like Neem (Azadirachta indica) and Henna (Lawsonia inermis) for Green, Kumkum and Raktachandan (Pterocarpus santalinus) for Red, Haldi for Yellow(Curcuma longa), Jacaranda flowers for Blue and a lot of other wonderful herbs like Bilva (Aegle marmelos), Amaltas (Cassia fistula), Marigold (Tagetus erecta) and Yellow Chrysanthemums. All these powders have a Kapha-reducing property and the power to detox the skin or to help the skin get rid of its toxins.
A liquid solution is also prepared by mixing the fine powders with water loaded in water guns and sprayed over each other. Biologists believe the spraying of Abeer (liquid dye) helps the medicinal components to enter the pores of the skin and has a strengthening effect on the ions in the body, thus adding to the beauty and health. It is a proven fact that colors have a huge impact on our body and mind (emotions). The deficiency of a particular color in the body causes ailments which can be cured only after supplementing the body with that particular color. What better way of celebrating a festival which not only brings communities together, but also has healing effects on the bodies and minds of the people celebrating it!
Colors also have a deep association with the seven chakras (plexus) of the body. Each chakra possesses a color. As a result of this, colors have an impact on our body’s energies. They can help clear negative emotions and restore positive energy and balance. This restoration ultimately leads to the restoration of the three doshas Vata, Pitta, Kapha.
Ayurveda also links the five elements with certain colors:
- Prithvi (Earth) with yellow color.
- Jala (Water) with deep blue color.
- Aakash (Ether) with light blue color.
- Vayu (Air) with green color.
- Agni (Fire) with red color.
It is said that any disturbance within these five elements in the body can lead to an imbalance in the body, mind and soul. That is the reason why it is believed that any imbalance can be fixed by boosting the color associated with the element.
Ayurveda recommends annual “Spring Cleansing” by performing “Vamanam”- Therapeutic Emesis. These cleansing techniques help rid your body of its toxins and “Ama” and leave you feeling healthier, happier and lighter in the coming months. Springtime has some unique qualities that no other season possesses: renewal, growth and awakening. This should urge us to start afresh by getting rid of the past by following the seasonal regimen (Rutucharya) for Vasant Rutu. We say, come to India and embrace all the love!
Wishing all our readers a HAPPY HOLI!
About the author
Vishakha is an Ayurveda practitioner, Yoga counselor and a passionate traveler. She lays emphasis on living a healthy life by nourishing the body and mind with wholesome and natural food, meditation and yogic techniques. An Indian at heart, she aims at propagating the goodness of the Indian culture across the seven seas and stimulating thoughts by creating a hunger for knowledge.