Festival of Holi and Flowers

Holi Festival

Holi Festival one of the major festivals of India, Holi is celebrated with enthusiasm and gaiety on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun which is the month of March as per the Gregorian calendar.

Holi festival may be celebrated with various names and people of different states might be following different traditions. But, what makes Holi so unique and special is the spirit of it which remains the same throughout the country and even across the globe, wherever it is celebrated.

Preparations of Holi festival

Entire country wears a festive look when it is time for Holi celebration. Market places get abuzz with activity as frenzied shoppers start making preparations for the festival. Heaps of various hues of gulal and abeer can be seen on the roadside days before the festival. Pichkaris in innovative and modern design too come up every year to lure the children who wish to collect them as Holi memorabilia and of course, to drench everybody in the town.

Women folks too start making early preparations for the holi festival as they cook loads of gujiya, mathri and papri for the family and also for the relatives. At some places specially in the north women also make papads and potato chips at this time.

Season of Bloom

Everybody gets delighted at the arrival of Holi as the season itself is so gay. Holi is also called the Spring Festival – as it marks the arrival of spring the season of hope and joy. The gloom of the winter goes as Holi promises of bright summer days. Nature too, it seems rejoices at the arrival of Holi and wears its best clothes. Fields get filled with crops promising a good harvest to the farmers and flowers bloom colouring the surroundings and filling fragrance in the air.

Legends

A Hindu festival, Holi has various legends associated with it. The foremost is the legend of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap as Holika had a boon which made he immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by lord himself for his extreme devotion and evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes, for her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone.

Since that time, people light a bonfire, called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to god. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend attached to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of ‘Holika Dahan’.
Some also celebrate the death of evil minded Pootana. The ogress tried to Lord Krishna as an infant by feeding it poisonous milk while executing the plan of Kansa, Krishna’s devil uncle. However, Krishna sucked her blood and brought her end. Some who view the origin of festivals from seasonal cycles believe that Pootana represents winter and her death the cessation and end of winter.
In South India, people worship Kaamadeva- the god of love and passion for his extreme sacrifice. According to a legend, Kaamadeva shot his powerful love arrow on Lord Shiva to revoke his interest in the worldly affairs in the interest of the earth. However, Lord Shiva was enraged as he was in deep mediation and opened his third eye which reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. Though, later on the request of Rati, Kaamadeva’s wife, Shiva was pleased to restore him back.

Holika Dahan

On the eve of Holi, called Chhoti or Small Holi people gather at important crossroads and light huge bonfires, the ceremony is called Holika Dahan. This tradition is also followed in Gujarat and Orissa. To render greatfulness to Agni, god of Fire, gram and stalks from the harvest are also offered to Agni with all humility. Ash left from this bonfire is also considered sacred and people apply it on their foreheads. People believe that the ash protects them from evil forces.

Play of Colors

Great excitement can be seen in people on the next day when it is actually the time for the play of colours. Shops and offices remain closed for the day and people get all the time to get crazy and whacky. Bright colours of gulal and abeer fill the air and people take turns in pouring colour water over each other. Children take special delight in spraying colours on one another with their pichkaris and throwing water balloons and passers by. Women and senior citizen form groups called tolis and move in colonies – applying colours and exchanging greetings. Songs, dance on the rhythm of dholak and mouthwatering Holi delicacies are the other highlights of the day.

Expression of Love

Lovers too long to apply colours on their beloved. This has a popular legend behind it. It is said that the naughty and mischievous Lord Krishna started the trend of playing colours. He applied colour on her beloved Radha to make her one like him. The trend soon gained popularity amongst the masses. No wonder, there is no match to the Holi of Mathura, Vrindavan and Barsana – the places associated with the birth and childhood of Radha and Krishna.

Ecstasy of Bhang

There is also a tradition of consuming the very intoxicating bhang on this day to further enhance the spirit of Holi. It is so much fun to watch the otherwise sober people making a clown of themselves in full public display. Some, however, take bhang in excess and spoil the spirit. Caution should therefore be taken while consuming bhang delicacies.

Sober Evening

After a fun-filled and exciting day, the evenings the spent in sobriety when people meet friends and relatives and exchange sweets and festive greetings.

It is said the spirit of Holi encourages the feeling of brotherhood in society and even the enemies turn friend on this day. People of all communities and even religions participate in this joyous and colouful festival and strenthen the secular fabric of the nation.

Flowers and Holi

Devotees dressed as Krishna and Radha danced and threw flowers on one another, drawing the attention of tourists towards the special style of enjoying the festival.

Days ahead of Holi, the festival was celebrated in Rajasthan’s Pushkar town in a special way by devotees of Krishna.
Holi, popularly known as the festival of colours, holds a distinct meaning in Pushkar and it is celebrated with flowers. It usually falls in the Hindu month of Phagun and is viewed as the harbinger of spring and new life.
Yesterday, local residents celebrated Holi with flowers instead of colours, as has been the general practice, while dancing to the beats of drums and devotional songs in praise of Krishna.
Artistes from various parts of the country gathered in Pushkar to perform Raas Leela (dance recitals depicting Krishna’s flirtatious interludes with village maidens).
Troupes of singers who render folk songs particularly associated with Holi also flocked to the town to participate in the festivities.
“On this occasion, we play Holi with flowers,” said Pawan Kumar, a local resident. “Artistes from various regions like Gwalior, Mumbai, and Jaipur gather here to take part in the celebrations. They perform dances based on Lord Krishna’s leela [deeds]. We also welcome the idol of Lord Ganesha with colours and decorate it. Later, we will play the Holi Phag Mausam with everybody. We play this every year and everybody takes part in the celebrations.”
Devotees dressed as Krishna and his beloved, Radha, danced and threw flowers on one another, drawing the attention of tourists towards the special style of enjoying the festival.
“I have been in Pushkar for the last two days and so far, my stay in this town has been great,” said Sara, an American tourist. “The dances, songs, people dressed as Lord Krishna are really beautiful. The people are very welcoming here. I really like it here. The way Krishna is dancing is good to watch. I wish I had some colours to throw on everybody.”

Holi celebrates the coming of spring and the harvest. It brings together people from all classes and age groups as they play with colours, distribute sweets, and take out processions.

Playing Holi with flowers also saves water, contamination and generally it is a clean and harmless fun Holi.

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10 Flowers for Christmas

Top 10 flowers for Christmas

1. Jasminum nudiflorum

A winter jasmine trained on a sheltered south or west-facing wall will reliably produce shiny olive-green shoots studded in pallid yellow flowers from November on. The spiky twigs can be picked, although they don’t have the heady scent associated with jasmine. Cut the shoots back hard after flowering to encourage new growth

2. Clematis cirrhosa ‘Freckles’

The festive creamy flowers of this winter-flowering clematis are heavily splashed and freckled in bright red – hence the name. Clematis cirrhosa is a Mediterranean species, so good drainage and the protection of a south-facing wall are vital. It reaches up to 10ft and has pendent bells. ‘Freckles’ is the earliest cirrhosa to flower

3. Iris unguicularis ‘Mary Barnard’

This Algerian iris is perfect to plant at the feet of your winter-flowering clematis. Soft blue flowers unfurl from pointed buds from November onwards. Pick single flowers and let them unfurl indoors. ‘Mary Barnard’ was collected by the lady herself near Algiers in 1937. Snip out any untidy leaves twice a year. Other than that, neglect is the best option.

4. Narcissus ‘Cedric Morris’

Almost always out by Christmas Eve, this bright yellow miniature daffodil was named after the artist (1889-1982), who founded the East Anglian School, by his friend Beth Chatto. It has a shallow trumpet and the outer petals are shaded in emerald green where they meet the stem. Sir Cedric found it over 50 years ago on a rocky ledge in Spain

5. Galanthus plicatus ‘Three Ships’

Rare and pricey, like many of the best snowdrops, this wide-leaved plant produces plump buds in December. As the flowers mature, the petals thicken and develop a seersucker texture often evident in plicatus seedlings. The inner green mark is revealed and a wide cross appears, often coinciding with Christmas Day

6. Skimmia x confusa ‘Kew Green’

The head of pale green buds on this choice and compact evergreen are arranged in a tight, lilac-like raceme. Place ‘Kew Green’ in a container by the front door, add some variegated trailing ivies and forced crocus, tiny narcissi or white muscari. Replace the bulbs as they fade with other early flowers

7. Paperwhite narcissi

Paperwhites can be planted in mid-October for Christmas flowers. Half-fill glass jars with stones, glass beads or gravel. Cluster five or 10 bulbs together, not touching, pointed end up, then add gravel until only a third of each bulb shows. Water to just below the base of the bulbs. Place in a cool, dark spot and bring into a warm room a few days before you need flowers.

8. Helleborus niger

The simple Christmas rose, such a failure in most gardens, is now grown under glass. Small plants make excellent displays in a cool porch or windowsill when mixed with ivies. Place several in a basket and top-dress with moss.

9. Amaryllis

You can grow your own, but I’m in favour of buying a plant that’s about to explode with bright trumpets. Opt for glowing scarlet or a pure white. ‘Red Velvet’ is a classy single, ‘Red Dragon’ a fiery double. ‘Papilio’, an elegant red-striped white and ‘Benfica’, dark red, are both excellent.

10. Poinsettia

Popular for decades, the colourful, long-lasting bracts form the ‘flower’ and, although there are many colours, bright soldier-red is still a favourite. A Mexican member of the large euphorbia family, E. pulcherrima prefers a spot in bright light, not direct sun, and only water when dry
For more information and to order flowers online, visit us at Mayflower.in