Have you ever thought that there could be any scientific reason behind the festivals we celebrate? Here, We intend to trace the Scientific and Mythological Reasons Behind the Festival of Holi. Let’s explore:
Scientific and Mythological Reasons Behind Holi Celebration
There are many stories associated with Holi.The most famous story behind this festival is that of Prahlad and King Hiranyakashyap. Hiranyakashyap was a demon king who believed that he was all-powerful. He ordered in his kingdom that people should stop praying to God and pray to him instead. But his own son Prahlad, who is was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu, refused to do so. An angry Hiranayakashyap plot to kill his own son with the help of his sister Holika. Hiranayakashyap asks his sister to sit by the fire taking Prahlad on her lap. Holika had a boon that she will remain unharmed by fire. But the reverse happens. Holika gets burnt and Prahlad remains safe.
- Holi is celebrated at a time of the year when the winter season is coming to an end and the summer season is about to commence. When wood burns along with cow dung, it causes an Ayurvedic smoke , which when gets inhaled by humans improve the immune system. And this results in better health condition during the weather transition.
- The day after the burning of Holika people put ash (Vibhuti) on their forehead & they would mix Chandan (sandal paste) with the young leaves and flowers of the Mango tree and consume it to promote good health.
- Biologists believe that rubbing natural colors had positive effects on human body, and can also strengthen the ions in the body to promote good health and beauty.
- Traditionally Holi is played with Butea monosperma overnight soaked in water. They leave a pleasant smell and a yellow color to the water. This water is considered to have several medicinal properties most importantly it helps to heat up the body when sprayed on and hence helps the body to undergo the season transition i.e. from winter to summer.
- People also clean-up their houses on Holi which helps in clearing up the dust and mess in the house and get rid of mosquitoes and others pests. A clean house generally makes the residents feel good and generate positive energies.
- However, on the day of Holi, there is a tradition of drinking Bhang, a preparation from the leaves and flowers (buds) of the female Cannabis plant, which might help people lose their inhibitions and mingle with other people of the society without the sense of divide.
Problems Caused By Some Common Synthetic Colors:
Green – It might contain copper sulfate and can cause problems like eye allergy and temporary blindness.
Red – It might contain mercury sulfide, which can lead to skin cancer, mental retardation, paralysis and impaired vision.
Purple – It might contain chromium iodide leading to health problems like bronchial asthma and allergies.
Silver – It might contain aluminum bromide, which is carcinogenic.
Blue – It might contain Prussian blue, which can cause contract dermatitis.
Black – It might contain lead oxide leading to health problems like renal failure and learning disability.
So try to play Holi with natural colors. I know it is practically not possible all of a sudden. In the meantime, you can minimize the side effects of synthetic colors by following some simple steps. Here are they-
Tips: Before playing Holi
- Body: It’s also a good idea to apply a thick layer of moisturizer, petroleum jelly or coconut oil on your face and other exposed parts of the body to prevent colors from coming into direct contact with your skin.
- Hair: Oil your hair and scalp with olive, coconut or castor oil. Add a few drops of lemon juice to prevent dandruff and infection triggered by the chemical colors.
- Clothing: What you choose to wear should cover maximum parts of your body. Wear dark color-full sleeves cotton clothes. Synthetic cloth would be sticky and denim would be heavy once you have a bucket full of colors/water splashed on you.
- Lips and Eyes: Don’t wear lenses. Most people are interested in applying surprise colors on your face and you may get your eyes hurt by the lenses. Use a sunglass to protect your eyes from a misfire of color filled darts or water jets. Apply a lip balm to your lips.
- Water: Drink plenty of water before you start playing Holi. This will keep your skin hydrated. Also, keep sipping water carefully while playing Holi.
- Bhang/Alcohol: Don’t consume bhang if you are a heart patient, excessive intake may lead to heart attack/failure.
Tips: After playing Holi
- Do not scrub the color off with soap. Soaps contain esters that erode the skin layers and often cause rashes. Use a cream-based cleanser or you can even use oil for removing the colors, and then go for a bath. Apply a lot of moisturizing cream to keep the skin hydrated.
- If the colors are still left on your skin you can apply besan with milk/milk cream on your body for removing colors.
- Don’t use kerosene, spirit or petrol to clean your face. Try a cream-based cleanser or baby oil.
- Don’t use hot water, it will stick the color on your body. Use normal water.
- Stay away from sunlight till color is removed.
- Itching in eye or redness may be normal but if it continues for more than few hours immediately contact a doctor.
This festival is celebrated enthusiastically by the majority of Indians. Age is not a barrier to celebrate and play with colors. Be it a small child or an adult, everyone just loves to play Holi.So the next time someone questions you about the significance of Holi in our Indian culture, hit them with ‘SCIENCE’.
Happy Holi to all the readers of Mythologicalfact!