Thursday, March 08, 2012

Holi Hai



Today we will celebrate Holi here in New Orleans with friends, colored powders, good food and of course - Bollywood tunes. I hope to celebrate it one day in India - my relatives tell me it is much like what we see in the movies (without songs & music starting on cue of course:) Holi is a very popular holiday in Bollywood films and it's easy to see why as it is visually almost tailor made for the big screen.



The origins of Holi are in religion as are most Indian festivals. Hiranyakashipu (a demon king) was granted near immortality due to his penance to Vishnu. The terms of this were that he not be killed "during day or night, inside the home or outside, not on earth or on sky, neither by a man nor an animal, neither by astra nor by shastra". Consequently, he grew arrogant (as you would expect a demon king to become who was immortal) and demanded that people stop worshiping gods and start praying to him.



Despite this his own son, Prahlad, was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and refused to bow down to the king. After many attempts at killing him, the king ordered young Prahlad to sit on a funeral pyre on the lap of his aunt, Holika. She would be safe from the fire by virtue of her holy shawl. Prahlad readily accepted his father's orders and prayed to Vishnu to keep him safe. When the fire started, everyone watched in amazement as the shawl flew from Holika (who was burnt to death) to Prahlad who was saved unhurt. Thus bonfires are lit to symbolize the burning of Holika and the beginning of Holi. And the tradition of the colors (besides just being fun and symbolizing the triumph of good over evil)?



There are various explanations but my favorite one comes from Krishna's celebration of Holi. According to legend, Krishna complained to his mother about how much darker he was than the much fairer Radha. Krishna's mother decided to apply colour to Radha's face as a way to appease him while still keeping Radha fair. Holi officially ushers in spring, the celebrated season of love in Bollywood & Hollywood as well.



Today's selection is arguably one of the most famous Holi songs in Bollywood history. The song is Rang Barse from 'Silsila' sung by Amitabh Bachchan himself. In 'Silsila' Jaya is shown initially enjoying herself but when she realizes that AB & Rekha are more than just friends - her pained look stays with you as well and changes the whole tone of the movie from that moment on. One of the most underrated actresses of our time, graceful yet powerful in every movie she has ever been in.

In the end though, maybe Holi is kind of a metaphor for life - for without color and song, life just isn't complete.

12 comments:

PolkaStripes-ZebraDots said...

great blog!

Daddy's Girl said...

I love the last line, it's so true.

memsaab said...

Happy Holi, enjoy!

Shweta Mehrotra Gahlawat said...

Happy holi Sanket bhai :) and lets not forget the SHolay Holi song :D

Sanket Vyas said...

Happy Holi to you as well Shweta Bahen :) I had originally included the song from 'Sholay' but for some reason could not upload it to my radio.blog

I had written about how Jaya's expression is the most powerful thing in both songs - in 'Sholay' when Amitabh is dancing and catches her gaze at the top of the hill... I just get goosebumps thinking about it. It kind of is Abhishek's first movie role too as she was pregnant with him at the time of the shoot!

Anonymous said...

I was just telling shahnaz earlier that i wanted to play holi!! "Rang barse" is my all time favorite holi song. Good one, bhai!

-Nafisa

Richard S. said...

Hello, Sanket, happy Holi! Thank you for this very informative explanation of the mythological origins... I should have been more curious and looked this up before, but I've always been happy just to see all those colorful Holi celebrations in Bollywood films, so that was enough for me for a while. :) (I guess you don't see these kinds of festivals in the U.S. I see Diwali celebrated in Jackson Heights with lights in the trees and that sort of thing, but I have never seen big crowds of people running around and spraying each other with colors!)

As you probably know, this isn't my favorite Holi song (which I just posted about - it's from Navrang), but this song is good, and I agree with you completely about Jaya being one of the most underrated actresses!

Sindhi Songs said...

Nice blog reallyt, we need such blogs really, to share such inofrmation.

Suja said...

Hello! I chanced upon your blog today, its very well written! I'll certainly revisit. I too have a little Indian music blog and I too chose the same Holi song :)

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shefskitchen said...

Great post Sanket! Makes me feel like being in India :(
I love how you tie in the tunes into everything! Watching rang barse was great.

Sanket Vyas said...

Well you know Shef - songs are just the soundtrack to life just as they are to Bollywood as well!