Dr. K. Jamanadas
Holi - What is it and how did it originate?
It is well known that Holi forms one of the important festivals among the Hindus. It is supposed to be festival of Shudras, and is one of the three most important ones in India, the others being Dasera and Diwali. The Dasera is in honour of killing of Ravana and Divali is in honour of killing of Narakasur and noted pesant king Bali. The purpose of Holi, indirectly, is concerned with killing of Hiranyakashyap. The important elements of the festival of Holi are as follows:-
1. A pyre is burnt.
2. Abuses are showered on people, and other obscenities are observed. Dirt, mud etc., is smeared.
3. Festivities are indulged in to celebrate the victory.
The puranas give an account of Holika burning. The traditional story is that a powerful King Hiranya Kashyapu sent his sister Holika to kill his ten year old only son Prahlad, as he was worshipping Barhmnic god Vishnu against his wishes. Holika had a cloth which could resist burning. She sits with Pralhad on a pyre. The wind blows wrapping Pralhad with the cloth and Holika is burnrd to death. Holi is supposed to be celebrated to commomorate this event.
Purpose of writing puranas
Dr. Ambedkar avers that "This literature arose during the period subsequent to the triumph of Brahmins under the leadership of Pushyamitra" (p.257 W&S vol.3) Original authors were non-brahmin sutas, but later they were ousted by brahmins who made monopoly of it. At that time they were finally edited and extra new subjects, apart from five traditional ones, were incorporated. [W&S vol 3, p.255]. But if you consider the fact that the majority of people were only allowed to know either by reading or hearing, and mostly by hearing, only these so called scriptures and nothing else, it becomes evident that the purpose of these books was rather more for false appeasement rather than information or enlightenment, let alone their progress and liberation, so that they don't aim and strive for any higher literature. The real purpose of Puranas was to misled the dalitbahujan masses regarding their aspirations to knowledge, to curb down their desire for more information and limit their desires to their paltry needs. BSO has always done that and even now, we see that. An example of Gandhi admonishing the savarna leaders for accepting Agnibhoj, an untouchable in the Congress ministry by saying that this will increase the aspirations of these lowly born harijans is well known.