Toronto, Canada

Mar 11: Holi Satsang

Celebrating the playful festival of Holi with colours and joy

The satsang on Saturday, March 11, 2017 was held at Hillcrest United Church, 8958 Trafalgar Road, Georgetown, ON. The satsang commenced with opening prayers, Amma’s Ashtottaram (108 names) followed by Lalitha Sahasranama (1000 names), Mahishasura Mardini Stotram and a five minute meditation. The satsang reading was from Mathruvani Feb 2017: Surrender to the Guru. It briefly explains about how one must have complete faith in the guru to achieve the higher goals of spirituality.

The bhajans sung included Gurucharanam, Srshtiym Niye, Banda Krishna, Aye he Sara and Chandra Bhaga. Lokah Samastha Sukhino Bhavantu ('May all beings in this world and in all other worlds be peaceful and happy') was chanted 18 times, followed by the waving of the Arati flame and closing prayers. As it was the day of the Holi Festival (Hindu spring festival celebrating the triumph of good over evil), the devotees celebrated by throwing colored powders at each other.

Significance of Holi

There are two legends that explain the symbolic elements of Holi: The demon King Hiranyakashyapu considered himself to be powerful, and wanted all his subjects to worship him. His son, Prahlad, worshipped Lord Vishnu instead. The demon king disagreed with his son’s devotion to Lord Vishnu and wanted to punish him. Hiranyakashyapu asked his sister Holika to take Prahlad into a blazing fire, as she had a boon to withstand heat. Lord Vishnu saved Prahlad for his extreme devotion, and punished Holika by burning her despite her boon. The Holika bonfire during Holi signifies the symbolic victory of good over evil, of Prahlad over Hiranyakashyapu. This legend emphasizes that our devotion to God will always protect us in difficult situations. Prahlad's story also reminds devotees of the importance of being truthful and honest when resisting evil.

In some parts of India where Krishna is revered, Holi commemorates the divine love of Radha and Krishna. Krishna was of dark complexion. In his youth, Krishna despaired that Radha and the other Gopis would not favour him, as they were all fair-skinned.  Krishna's mother, Yashoda, then told Krishna to color Radha’s face any colour of his choice. Krishna did this, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. Since then, playing with coloured powders and waters has become part of Holi celebrations.

Holi is a time to start anew in the Spring: devotees set aside past differences and forgive, make new friends, and enjoy the changing seasons. Holi celebrations are widely observed in India, and in other communities of Indian origin in countries such as Mauritius, Trinidad and Tobago and Guyana.