Happy Holi!

Madikeri, 28 March, 2021

Ciao famiglia,

Happy Holi! Today we burn the pyres to mark the death of Holika, sister of Prahlad, and then tomorrow we play with colors, drink thandai (milk, sugar, and bhang), and eat lots of sweets and visit friend and enemies. It’s a day for enemies to  bury the hatchet. I just reflect on this and am filled with awe that in our culture, we’ve set aside a day to formally befriend our enemies. I hope amidst all the commercialization of this holiday, we don’t forget the significant essence of this day. I guess, we all have parts of ourselves that we don’t like… and this is the day to embrace them and bring them into the inner circle. Outer divisions, after all, seem just a reflection of the inner divisions.

Holika’s story goes like this… Prahlad was son of a king named Hiranyakashyap who, like many demons and Asuras, had the intense desire to be immortal. Brahma was delighted by his sadhana and granted him a boon. As this wish was granted, Hiranyakashyap feeling invincible, became arrogant. He decreed that only he be worshiped as a god, and he killed anyone who did not. His own son Prahlad disagreed and continued believing and worshipping Lord Vishnu.

This made the king furious, and he set out to kill Prahlad. During a particular attempt on Prahlad’s life, King Hiranyakashyap called upon his sister Holika for help. Holika had a special cloak garment that prevented her from being harmed by fire. Hiranyakashyap asked her to sit on a bonfire with Prahlad, by tricking the boy to sit on her lap. Prahlad continued to chant Vishnu’s name. As the fire roared with gusty winds caused by the Lord, the garment flew from Holika and covered Prahlad. Holika burnt to death, Prahlad came out unharmed. It’s a good reminder to check on our own egos.

Holi is also the day when the weather changes and the Summer heat starts all over the country. In some parts of the country, temps are reaching 45 deg C, 113 deg F, this early in the year.  It’s shaping up to be a long hot summer, with many areas facing critical water shortages.

Vaccines are out and available for 45+ here and there are more rumblings of restrictions. Already there are fines for not having face masks. I feel people should always wear face masks due to pollution in cities. It seems that 2020 was a call to find our village, to live away from high-density environs, and become more connected to the Earth.

Life continues to go through the usual dance, the ups and downs. I don’t know how much I can write about spirituality or philosophy. For me, it’s all one and the same… meditation and washing the dishes is one, sleeping well and union with the divine is the same, and a good bowel movement every morning and the supreme bliss are one. 😊 I find this keeps things simple, and unified.

Much love to you Giulia and Jim,

Dinesh

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