Ecards

February 21, 2010

Upcoming Spring Holidays Easter and Holi

Filed under: about holidays, holi — Tags: , — ecards @ 1:23 pm

Upcoming Spring Holidays Easter and Holi

Wow! Can you believe that March is almost upon us?! As hard as it is to accept that we’re already approaching the third month in 2010, I won’t deny that this is the time of the year I look forward to the most. Who doesn’t? What’s not to love about spring(allergies aside!)? Flowers in full bloom. Nature at her glorious best. Milder temperatures. Longer days.  The anticipation of summer. Everything about spring reflects celebrating a fresh start. It’s not surprising that spring time puts people in a better mood, as many studies suggest! I could have told you that myself! Just seeing more sunlight, spending time outdoors, getting more fresh air, seeing lush greenery works wonders for your state of mind, mood and overall health.

And to top it all, you have the year’s first holidays coming up to lift your spirits further. No matter where you are and what your faith, the arrival of spring is marked by festivities of one form or another.

Take Easter. This colorful holiday celebrated in memory of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, has its origins in the festival of fertility – Eastre. It has evolved into one of the most widely celebrated Christian holidays and is marked by children dressed in their best clothes going on Easter egg hunts and coming away with baskets full of goodies, families coming together to pray, spend time together and welcome new beginnings.

On the other end of the spectrum lies the Hindu festival of Holi that is not very different in spirit. This Indian spring festival is marked by a reenactment of Ras Leela – the divine dance and song celebrations of Lord Krishna and his beloved Gopikas in the gardens of Brindavan.  In India, Holi is an occasion for children and adults alike to engage in fun and pranks such as splashing colored water or spraying paint over each other. There are a number of legends associated with Holi, but, in all of them, the underlying theme – the onset of spring in all its glory – is unmistakable.

No matter which part of the world you live in and what your beliefs, we hope that you will take some time to celebrate new beginnings and to rejoice in the blessings you are surrounded by this spring.

And to help you get into the spirit of Spring festivities, we have created dozens of free Holi Ecards and free Easter Ecards for you to share with your friends and family.

Don’t forget, Easter falls on April 4th and March 1st is Holi!

Related Posts:

What do July 4th and August 15th have in common?
http://blog.gotfreecards.com/free-ecards/what-does-july-4th-and-august-15th-have-in-common/

Culture brings the world closer
http://blog.gotfreecards.com/ecards/culture-brings-the-world-closer/

March 10, 2009

Holi Rituals and Traditions

Filed under: Free Ecards, about holidays, holi — Tags: , , — ecards @ 9:08 am

 

The previous posts on Holi explored the various legends associated with this Indian festival of colors. 

Ras Leela

There is one legend that is particularly colorful and fascinating – that of Radha and Krishna’s Ras Leela. Those familiar with Indian culture know that Lord Krishna was known for his love of the Gopikas or lady shepherds. The mutual love they felt, was spiritual in nature, akin to that between a devotee or worshipper and the Lord, although it is often misrepresented as the infatuation between man and woman. Ras Leela is the famous festival of dance and song representing the abandonment with which Krishna, Radha and the other girls expressed their love for one another in the gardens of Brindavan. Krishna is said to have taken on multiple forms to be able to dance and celebrate with each of the Gopikas so none would leave disappointed. Today, the ritual of Ras Leela is re-enacted during Holi in some parts of India, symbolizing the colorful, joyous and enthralling manner in which pure love is expressed. Men and women, dressed in colorful costumes rejoice and dance to the beats of the Dholak.

 Some of the other traditions and rituals surrounding Holi are – 

-On the eve of Holi, Holika Dahan takes place, representing the destruction of the evil Holika, Hiranyakashyap’s sister. Bonfires are lit on streets and in some places, people burn the effigy of Holika, and rejoice in the symbolic victory of good over evil.

- Fire or Agni has great significance in Indian culture. An inherent part of many Hindu rituals, it is believed that the heat from the flames and the embers have a positive bio-physical impact, yet to be fully explained by modern Science. As people go around the fire, dancing and celebrating, they no doubt, inadvertently reap some of those benefits.

- Early the next day, the morning of Holi, people wear white clothes and leave their homes with buckets of colored water. Some use Pitchkaris or long syringes that are used to splash colored water. Powdered colors are equally popular.

- They meet on streets, in parks, in public areas and temple grounds – eager to smear each other with splashes of color and muddy water. Children engage in playing pranks and this is one day when you could get away with almost anything!

- Bhang, an intoxicating drink, is mixed with other beverages and consumed. This eliminates any remaining ounce of inhibition in the celebrations.

-After a full day of outdoor celebrations, pranks and ‘color splashing’, people go back home to wash up, offer prayers and then visit friends and relatives, exchanging home made sweets, gifts and other treats.

- Holi is also the time when the equivalent of spring cleaning takes place. People clear out clutter and redecorate their homes.

 Holi is less than a week away. How will you and your family celebrate this year? Tell us in the comments section below. What is your favorite part of Holi?

 No matter where you are, and how you celebrate, be sure to keep in mind its spiritual, cultural and social significance.

  Holi offers us the opportunity to celebrate life in all its shades.

 So, here’s wishing you colorful Holi.

March 9, 2009

The spirit of Holi – The stories and significance

Filed under: about holidays, holi — Tags: — ecards @ 10:29 am

Love. Fertility. Harvest. The onset of spring. If there is any festival that represents the true spirit of all of these aspects and bundles them in one joyful package of color and festivities, it surely is Holi – the Indian festival celebrated in the lunar month Phalguni, which usually falls in early or mid March.

Holi is considered an ancient festival, dating back to the 7th century, perhaps earlier. It finds mention in the Sanskrit drama Ratnaval and other Sanskrit literary and religious works such as Dashakumar Charit and Garud Puran.

When Cupid crossed the line

Holi is often referred to as the cupid festival. Quite ironically. Kama, the Indian equivalent of Cupid, was believed to have been assigned the task of disturbing Lord Shiva’s meditation, so he could give Parvathi a son who would save the world. Kama attempted to lure Shiva into carnal temptation and as a result became the victim of Shiva’s wrath. Furious on being disturbed, Lord Shiva burnt Kama to ashes with his third eye. Later, on the request of Kama’s wife Rathi, Shiva softened and granted him a partial life, one without physical form. This is one of the stories associated with Holi and the one most commonly told in the southern parts of India during the Kaman Pandigai or Kama Dahanam which are other names of Holi.

Good vanquishes evil, again

The other popular story associated with Holi is that of the young prince Prahlad and his aunt Holika. Prahlad was the son of the arrogant King Hiranyakashyap. Prahlad defied his father by praying to Lord Vishnu, whom he believed to be the all-powerful God. Hiranyakashyap on the other hand was boastful of his own supremacy since he had acquired the boon of not being killed by anyone in any of the three worlds. When he saw that his own son questioned his infallibility, he ordered his sister Holika to kill the young boy. Holika attempted to kill Prahlad by burning him in fire, but it was she who was killed instead, while the Lord saved Prahlad.

 The significance of Agni or fire is evident in many of the legends associated with Holi and so bonfires are an integral part of Holi celebrations everywhere. Fire represents the sustenance and victory of good over evil.

So, while it appears to be an uninhibited and joyful, even frivolous celebration of life on the surface, Holi, in fact, is an occasion with deep spiritual and philosophical significance. Not unlike many other Indian festivals that appear to be a mixture of meaningless rituals at first. Only deeper examination reveals the higher truth that drives them.

Coming up… some Holi rituals, Lord Krishna’s Ras Leela and other stories. 

March 8, 2009

Holi – Celebrating colors, harvest and life!

Filed under: Free Ecards, about holidays, holi — Tags: , — ecards @ 3:10 pm

How would you like to be smeared with a splash of rainbow-colored water and powder from head to toe before you even realize what’s happening? Not your idea of a perfect day is it? But, if you thought that being the victim of a practical joke is the last thing anyone would ever want, you probably haven’t heard of Holi. The Indian festival of colors. 

Colors = Life! 

This popular Indian festival represents the successful winter harvest and the coming of Spring or Vasanth. This is one day when Indians across the country, especially Hindus, celebrate life in all its vibrant hues, abandoning inhibitions. 

The Holi festival celebrates the spring season. But it is also symbolic of the way Lord Krishna engaged in a playful celebration of life itself with the beautiful Gopikas (woman cowherds) of Brindavan or Gokul (the gardens where they herded the cows)- singing, dancing and surrendering to love in its purest, divine form. There are several other historical and mythological stories also associated with the origins and significance of Holi. 

 

Family Fun Fest!

Today, Holi is a day when families in India come together, exchange delicacies, sweet dishes and gifts, smear each other with color(gulaal powder) and just have a good time. Getting intoxicated with bhang, holding Matka or Earthen-pot breaking competitions, playing pranks have all come to be associated with this joyous festival that people of all ages enjoy and look forward to. Even if you haven’t experienced it yourself, you can easily get a feel of the spirit of the occasion from numerous Bollywood films. If you live far away from family or friends, don’t forget to send free Holi ecards from our bright and cheerful collection created specially for the occasion.

Some of our upcoming posts will explore the origins of this vibrant Indian festival, the rituals associated with it and other aspects. Holi falls on March 11 2009. So, you still have time to plan a celebration with friends and family. The only question is – are you ready to get your hands (and possibly your outfit, your face and your whole body) dirty?!!

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