Why India celebrates Holi: the legends behind the festival of color

Mythological roots

The roots of the festival lie in the Hindu legend of Holika, a female demon, and the sister of the demon, King Hiranyakashayap.
Hiranyakashayap believed he was the ruler of the universe and superior to all the gods.
But his son, Prahlad, followed the god Vishnu, the preserver and protector of the universe.
Prahlad’s decision to turn his back on his father left Hiranyakashayap with no choice. He hatched a plot with Holika to kill him.
It was a seemingly foolproof plan; Holika would take Prahlad onto her lap and straight into a bonfire. Holika would survive because she had an enchanted shawl that would protect her from the flames.
But the plan failed. Prahlad was saved by Vishnu and it was Holika who died as she was only immune to fire if she was alone. Soon after, Vishnu killed Hiranyakashayap and Prahlad became king.
The moral of the story is that good always triumphs over evil.
Indian Hindu devotees throw colored powder during celebration of Holi Festival at Sriji temple in Barsana in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on February 23, 2018.

The love story behind Holi

In modern day Holi celebrations, Holika’s cremation is often reenacted by lighting bonfires on the night before Holi, known as Holika Dahan.
Some Hindus collect the ashes and smear them on their bodies as an act of purification
Rangwali Holi takes place the next day and is an all-day affair where people throw and smear colored powder on each other.
Indian college girls throw colored powder to one another during Holi festival celebrations in Bhopal on February 28, 2018.

The tradition of throwing colored powder and water is believed to originate from the mythological love story of Radha and Krishna.
Krishna, the Hindu god depicted with dark blue skin, is believed to have complained to his mother about Radha’s fair complexion.
To ease her son’s sadness, his mother suggests he Radha’s skin color by smearing her with paint. It’s believed that this is where the custom of smearing loved ones with color during Holi came from.

Indian Culture – Unique Customs and Traditions


Indian Culture and traditions are something which has now become renowned all across the world.  We all refer to India and its culture as something very diverse and unique. But seldom do we give a thought to why things are done in certain specific ways. Indian Culture is full of several unique customs and traditions, which outsiders might find really intriguing. Most of these originate from the Ancient Indian scriptures and texts, which have dictated the way of life in India for thousands of years.

1. The Namaste


The namaste is one of the most popular Indian customs and isn’t really just restricted to the Indian territory anymore. You have Barack Obama, who has been seen doing it on various occasions, or you had Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, greeting everyone with a namaste at the Times’ Square in New York on the first International Yoga Day. But, what’s the significance? The Namaste, or ‘namaskar’, or ‘namaskaara’ is one of the five forms of traditional greetings mentioned in the ancient Hindu scriptures, the Vedas. It literally translates to “I bow to you”, and greeting one another with it is a way of saying “May our minds meet”, indicated by the folded palms placed before the chest. The word ‘namaha’ can also be translated as ‘na ma’ (not mine), to signify the reductions of one’s ego in the presence of the other.

2. The Science Behind Temples


Most temples are located along magnetic wave lines of the earth, which help in maximizing the available positive energy. The copper plate (called Garbhagriha or Moolasthan) buried under the main idol absorbs and resonates this energy to its surroundings. Going to the temple often, helps in having a positive mind and garnering positive energies, which in turn lead to healthier functioning.

It is also a practice to take off footwear before entering places of worship because they would bring in dirt to an otherwise cleansed and sanctified environment.

3. Religious Symbols


The Indian traditions and scriptures contain various signs and symbols which have various meanings. For example, the usage of the Swastika, in the Indian context, does not point towards Adolf Hitler or Nazism. It actually is the symbol of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles. The arms of the Swastika have various meanings. They signify the four Vedas, the four constellations, or the four basic aims of human pursuit.

4. Atithi Devo Bhavah


In India, the saying “Atithi Devo Bhavah” is also integral. It means “the guest is equivalent to god”. It is a Sanskrit verse taken from the Hindu scriptures which later became a part of the “Code of conduct” for Hindu society, since the guest has always been of supreme importance in the culture.

5. Always a Festive Season


India also sees a large number of festivals, mainly because of the prevalence of diverse religions and groups. The Muslims celebrate Eid, the Christians have Christmas, good Friday and so on, the Sikhs have Baisakhi (harvesting of crop), and the birthdays of their Gurus, and the Hindus have Diwali, Holi, Makar Sakranti, the Jains have Mahavir Jayanti, the Buddhists celebrate the Buddha’s birthday on Buddha Poornima, and quite honestly, the number is endless. All of these translate to holidays in our book, of course.

6. Joint Families


Also, in India, there exists the concept of a joint family, wherein the entire family (parents, wife, children and in some cases relatives) all live together. This is mostly because of the cohesive nature of the Indian society, and also reportedly helps in handling pressure and stress.

7. Indian Ethnic Wear


Indian women are often seen sporting ‘saris’. The sari is a single cloth and needs no stitching, it is easy to make and comfortable to wear, and also adheres to religious etiquette. It initially started out as a Hindu tradition, but has very elegantly spread across all religions. The same applies to the more functional ‘Kurta-Pyjama’, and the ceremonial wear of ‘Sherwani’ for Indian men of all religions.

There exist thousands of traditions in India, and quite a few of them would leave outsiders rather curious. But the crux of Indian society and tradition has always been to be well mannered, polite, respect others, and progress together.

Who in India wears the sari?

New Delhi: A New York Times article published last month attracted widespread attention because of its claim that fashion in India was being driven by a nationalist agenda. The article by Asgar Qadri argued that India has witnessed a state-led promotion of traditional attire in general, and the sari in particular, as part of a broader attempt to “project multi-faith India as a Hindu nation”, ever since the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rose to power in 2014.

But the central premise of the article about the sari being a Hindu attire is not backed by data. Consumer expenditure survey conducted by the National Sample Survey Office (NSSO) shows that the sari enjoys broad appeal across religious groups, with a majority of Christian and Muslim households reporting buying at least one sari in the year preceding the survey. This survey covering more than 100,000 households across the country was conducted in 2011-12, well before Modi became India’s prime minister .








Similarly, the share of households belonging to the top decile which purchased skirts (or frocks) at 27% was 15 percentage points higher than the share of households belonging to the bottom decile which made similar purchases.

Overall, geography and wealth seem to have a far greater influence on the sartorial choices of Indian women than religion.

This is the first of a two-part series on what Indians wear. The second part will examine the sartorial choices of Indian men.

Udayan Rathore is a research associate at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, and Pramit Bhattacharya is editor (data) at Mint.

Dances of India

India is a land of diversities. Various climatic conditions have made India a diverse country. In all spheres of Indian life diversities are clearly visible. These diversities have made the Indian culture a unique one. Like all other aspects of life, the dance forms of India are also varied and different. There are many types of dance forms in India, from those which are deeply religious in content to those which are performed on small occasions.


The Indian dances are broadly divided into Classical dances and folk dances. The Classical dances of India are usually spiritual in content. Though the folk dances of India are also spiritual and religious in content but the main force behind the folk dances of India is the celebratory mood. Dances are a form of coherent expression of human feelings. Like the Indian culture, Indian classical dances are equally diverse in nature. There are numerous classical dance forms in India and innumerable folk dances. Each dance form can be traced to different parts of the country. Each form represents the culture and ethos of a particular region or a group of people

The most popular classical dance styles of India are Bharatnatyam of Tamil Nadu, Kathakali and Mohiniattam of Kerala, Odissi of Orissa, Kathak of Uttar Pradesh, Kuchipudi of Andhra Pradesh and Manipuri of Manipur.

Indian Classical Dances
India has thousands of year old tradition of fine arts and classical and folk music and dances. Some of the world-famous dance forms that originated and evolved in India are Bharatnatyam, Kathak, Kathakali, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, Mohiniattam and Odissi. All these dance forms use basically the same ‘mudras’ or signs of hand as a common language of expression and were originally performed in the temples to entertain various Gods and Goddesses.

Indian Classical Dancers
Indian classical dance has a distinct character that reflects the great cultural and traditional endeavor. The forms of Indian dance have transcended beyond the fences and socio-cultural hindrances. Exponents of the Indian classical dance believe that it has the caliber of creating a new and disciplined lifestyle. The Indian Classical Dance is often regarded as the form of worship and meditation. The performers of Indian Classical Dance, despite of the background and forms, have played a crucial role in presenting India to the forefront of the World stage.

Bharatnatyam is one of the most popular classical Indian dances. Bharatnatyam is more popular in South Indian states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Bharatnatyam dance is almost 2,000 years old. It is believed that Bharatnatyam was revealed by Lord Brahma to Bharata, a famous sage who then codified this sacred dance in a Sanskrit text called the Natya Shastra. The Natya Shastra is one of the fundamental treatises on Indian drama and aesthetics.

Kathak is one of the most important classical dances of India. Kathak is said to be derived from the word katha, meaning “the art of storytelling.” The Kathak dance form originated in north India and was very similar to the Bharatnatyam dance form. In ancient India, there were Kathakars or bards who used to recite religious and mythological tales to the accompaniment music, mime and dance.

Kathakali is the classical dance form of Kerala. The word Kathakali literally means “Story-Play”. Kathakali is known for its heavy, elaborate makeup and costumes. In fact, the colorful and fascinating costumes of Kathakali have become the most recognized icon of Kerala. Kathakali is considered as one of the most magnificent theatres of imagination and creativity. Kathakali dance presents themes derived from the Ramayana, the Mahabharata and other Hindu epics, mythologies and legends.

Kuchipudi is one of the classical dance forms of the South India. Kuchipudi derives its name from the Kuchipudi village of Andhra Pradesh. In the seventeenth century the Kuchipudi village was presented to the Brahmins, who were experts in staging dance and drama. Kuchipudi exhibits scenes from the Hindu Epics, legends and mythological tales through a combination of music, dance and acting. Like other classical dances, Kuchipudi also comprises pure dance, mime and histrionics but it is the use of speech that distinguishes Kuchipudi’s presentation as dance drama.

Manipuri is one of the six major classical dances of India. Manipuri dance is indigenous to Manipur, the North eastern state of India. The Manipuri dance style is inextricably woven into the life pattern of Manipuri people. The most striking part of Manipur dance is its colorful decoration, lightness of dancing foot, delicacy of abhinaya (drama), lilting music and poetic charm. The Manipuri dance form is mostly ritualistic and draws heavily from the rich culture of the state of Manipur.

Mohiniattam is a classical dance form of Kerala. Mohiniattam is derived from the words “Mohini” (meaning beautiful women) and “attam”(meaning dance). Thus, Mohiniattam dance form is a beautiful feminine style with surging flow of body movements. Mohiniattam dance in Kerala developed in the tradition of Devadasi system, which later grew and developed a classical status.

Odissi is one of the famous classical Indian dances from Orissa state. The history of Odissi dance is almost two thousand years old. Odissi is a highly inspired, passionate, ecstatic and sensuous form of dance. Like most of the South Indian classical dances of India Odissi too had its origin in the Devadasi tradition. The state of Orissa has a great cultural history.

Gandhi Jayanti 2017: 10 Quotes By Mahatma Gandhi On Education

Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 is an occasion to remember the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi.


Gandhi Jayanti 2017 On October 2: 10 Quotes By Mahatma Gandhi On Education

NEW DELHI:  The world celebrates Gandhi Jayanthi on October 2 every year. Gandhi Jayanti (the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi) is the occasion, when people come togethor to remember the man who was influential in shaping the modern world with his ideas and struggles. Mahatma Gandhi, as a philosopher of education, was ahead of time. Mahatma Gandhi had talked about everything related to education, from school to primary education to technical education to idea of university to importance of exercise in a students’ life. Mahatma Gandhi’s ideas have influenced Indian education system in its full strength.

Gandhi Jayanti 2017: Mahatma Gandhi On Education

Mahatma Gandhi on School

“The school must be an extension of home. There must be concordance between the impressions which a child gathers at home and at school, if the best results are to be obtained”.

Mahatma Gandhi on technical education

“I would revolutionize college education and relate it to national necessities. There would be degrees for mechanical and other engineers. They would be attached to the different industries which should pay for the training of the graduates they need”.

Mahatma Gandhi on literacy vs education

“Literacy is not the end of education nor even the beginning. It is only one of the means whereby man and woman can be educated. Literacy in itself is no education. I would therefore begin the child’s education by teaching it a useful handicraft and enabling it to produce from the moment it begins its training. Thus every school can be made self-supporting, the condition being that the State takes over the manufacture of these schools”.

Mahatma Gandhi on primary education

“Then as to primary education, my confirmed opinion is that the commencement of training by teaching the alphabet and reading and writing hampers their intellectual growth. I would not teach them the alphabet till they have had an elementary knowledge of history, geography, mental arithmetic and the art (say) of spinning”.

Mahatma Gandhi on ‘best education for citizenship’

“The emphasis laid on the principle of spending every minute of one’s life usefully is the best education for citizenship”.

‘Money inversted in learning’

“In a democratic scheme, money invested in the promotion of learning gives a tenfold return to the people even as a seed sown in good soil returns a luxuriant crop”.

Education for all

“Love requires that true education should be easily accessible to all and should be of use to every villager in this daily life”.

Mahatma Gandhi on corporal punishment

“Experience gained in two schools under my control has taught me that punishment does not purify, if anything, it hardens children”.

Mahatma Gandhi on education and exercise

“I hold that true education of the intellect can only come through a proper exercise and training of the bodily organs, e.g., hands, feet, eyes, ears, nose, etc. In other words an intelligent use of the bodily organs in a child provide the best and quickest way of developing his intellect”.

Mahatma Gandhi on idea of university

“There should be a proper background for new universities. They should have feeders in the shape of schools and colleges which will impart instruction through the medium of their respective provincial languages. Then only can there be a proper milieu. University is at the top. A majestic top can only be sustained if there is a sound foundation”.

(All the quotes are taken from mkgandhi.org)

Google celebrates 19th birthday with 19 games from Doodles past


Google is celebrating its 19th birthday with a “Surprise Spinner.”

Google’s latest Doodle for its 19th anniversary is a birthday surprise spinner that takes players back to its most memorable Doodle games. Spin the wheel to play interactive browser games from the past 19 years, like a musical puzzle game celebrating Beethoven’s 245th birthday, or this adorable Magic Cat Academy Halloween game from 2016.

Google has also added a brand-new Snake game to its Search Funbox, which is one of the 19 wheel surprises among other search result games like tic-tac-toe, and an Earth Day quiz. You can play it anytime by searching “snake game,” or just search “Google birthday surprise spinner” to give the wheel a spin and try out the other Doodle games.

The wheel also includes the 2010 Pac Manbrowser game, which time management software company RescueTime famously alleged cost the economy $120 million and 4.8 million hours of lost productivity. For the sake of humoring more bad math, I’m going to go ahead and guesstimate that $120 million x 19 games means $2.3 billion of productivity will be lost today. Have fun!

Top 10 causes of deaths in India

Nearly 61% of deaths in India are due to non-communicable diseases, which include heart disorders, cancer and diabetes. But other big killers include lung diseases caused by air pollution, smoking, etc and diarrhea – which can be prevented with improving hygiene. Here’s more…