These annual events are regarded as the festivals of the spring season. Holi
occurs on Falgun sud Poonam. Fuldolotsav is celebrated on the day after Holi.
All over India, the days are celebrated by spraying coloured water and sprinkling
powdered paint over one another. Holi is therefore sometimes referred to as
the Festival of Colours. The colour is representative of the beautiful spring
blossoms that would be emerging on the trees at this time of year. The Fuldolotsav
festival is sometimes referred to as the Festival of Flowers.
Many mythological stories exist to explain the origins of the festivals. All
have the same theme; destruction of evil and triumph of good. For disciples
of the Swaminarayan religion, this evil also refers to our own internal evils
that obstruct us from our devotion unto the Lord.
An ancient Scripture, the Bhavishyotara Puran narrates the story of the demon
Dhundha Rakshas who used to cause distress to children. To discourage Dhundha
from harassing them or their families, fires would be lit and everyone would
chant the Lord's name whilst walking around the fires. This was thought to keep
Dhundha away. This should be done on an annual basis, so it is said that the
King of Satya Yug, King Raghu, decreed that it should be performed on Falgun
sud Poonam. Even today, in some regions, leaves and twigs are swept together
and huge bonfires are lit on the night of Holi.
Another story is that of Lord Vishnu's devout disciple Prahlad. His father
Hirnaykashipu was a demon king who vowed to destroy Lord Vishnu. Unfortunately
for him, his own son Prahlad was sincerely dedicated to Lord Vishnu. He made
many attempts to harass his son so that Prahlad would abandon his devotion to
Vishnu, but none were successful. On one occasion, Hirnaykashipu instructed
his sister Holika to put on a magical sari that could not burn and then sit
in a fire with Prahlad on her lap. By the Lord's wish, she wore the wrong sari
and was burnt. However, Prahlad survived. This story symbolises how Maya (worldly,
material elements) can be destroyed by sincere devotion unto the Lord.
Nar-Naran Dev, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu is said to have manifested on
the day of Holi.
Manu, the writer of the scripture the Manu Smriti was also born on he day of
holi. The Manu Smriti is regarded as an instructional guide to one's human life.
On the day of holi, people burn effigies of Holika and roast grain in the fire
whilst dancing and singing around the fire. People hurl colour over each other
in the streets. On the day of Fuldolotsav, a swing is erected and decorated
with flowers upon which the Lord is seated and swung with devotion by the disciples.
In the Swaminarayan religion, devotional raas is played around the divine murti
of the Lord seated upon a hindoro. The murti of Lord Swaminarayan is bathed
in panchamrut and then with coloured water and auspicious gulal powder. His
Divine Holiness Acharya Swamishree then sprays this prasadi coloured water and
powder over the Sants and disciples. This is symbolic of how we should replace
our own worldly inclinations with the divinity of the Lord's colour.
Traditionally, the prasad distributed on this day is fagwaa; popcorn, roasted
chickpeas, dates and sultanas. During the cold winter months, people would have
eaten rich foods containing ghee etc. to keep them warm. All this causes phlegm
to be produced in the body. By eating fagwaa, it is thought that the excess
phlegm becomes absorbed and then eliminated from the body.