Amid this pandemic comes a bright flash of color. Holi is a festival that celebrates divine love. Although it originates in India, Holi spread to other parts of the world.
There are three main themes to this festival:
A Celebration of Spring
Love of Radha and Krishna
Triumph of Good over Evil
Holi marks the beginning of spring. Although many states are still in winter here in the US, Texas is celebrating some sense of spring. It has been a rough winter for many Texans unprepared for snow combined with sub-zero temperatures. Matthew McConaughey is doing much to keep the damage, most inside homes, in people's minds.
The Holi story that touches my heart is that of Prahalad. This young boy has a deep connection to God despite his father's efforts to remove all divine reminders in the palace. King Hiranyakashipu, the boy's father, is powerful beyond measure and has no humility. At the end of the story, Lord Vishnu, Prahalad's God, destroy's the king. Prahalad's story is about the constant connection to the divine.
Holi also celebrates the human-divine love connection through Radha's undying love for Krishna. Radha is a symbol of the human soul eternally in love with God or Spirit. While it is easy to romanticize our relationship with the divine, there is also a seriousness. We all too often neglect our relationship with the divine or substitute whatever we fancy in its place.
What is particular about this festival is the similarity with Yom Kippur, the intention to forgive and let go of past mistakes and conflicts. There is even the sense of forgiving others their debts, a bit like how we pray the Lord's prayer: "Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors."
This festival may be a time to ask ourselves some hard questions, such as, what do we mean when we say we love the divine? How do we show it? What do we do to build a relationship with the divine? Are the things we do for this relationship authentic, or do we create a fantasy around it?
The word "holi" does not literally mean "holy." It derives from Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashipu, who was part of the plan to kill Lord Vishnu's devotee, Prahalad. The boy's deep connection to his Lord, however, saves him.
Can we cultivate that unwavering faith? What do we do during meditation? Are we just controlling our thoughts, or relaxing the mind, or do we sense something beyond ourselves?
The key to a more profound spirituality is a relationship with Spirit. Sometimes, we need to choose between what we exercise as control and that relationship, which, paradoxically, requires the surrender of control.