for The Times of India on March 19, 2011
MUMBAI: A classic embodiment of renewal in nature, the spring festival of Holi comes as welcome respite from the searing heat this weekend.
This is the last festival of the Hindu calendar before new year arrives on Gudi Padwa. A special chhappan bhog complete with cake will be offered to Lord Krishna at the ISKCON temple given his legendary affinity for Holi.
Bonfires will be lit across the city at temples and housing societies on Saturday night to mark 'Holika dahan'. "Coconut, flowers, fragrant objects, raw rice and oil lamps are placed in the bonfire before it is lit as
offerings to Agni for a bountiful rabi harvest," says Pandit Ravindra Nagar of
"Holi is the last festival of the Hindu calendar with the new year coming up in a few days. As devotees circumambulate the holy fire, they pledge to make a new beginning by letting bygones be bygones."
Saturday will see nearly 10,000 devotees arrive at the ISKCON temple in Juhu for day-long festivities culminating in a grand flower shower in the evening.
"Holi is the appearance day of the Chaitanya incarnation of Lord Krishna. It was he who gave the world the Hare Krishna mantra which is the remedy for the ills of Kaliyuga," says spokesperson Parijata Devi.
Scores of people arrive for the abhishek where the 10 temple deities are bathed in colourful fruit juices and showered with petals comprising rose and lily. "All the deities are dressed in new clothes and sumptuous prasad comprising 56 preparations or 'chhappan bhog' is offered to Lord Krishna," says Parijata Devi. Interestingly, the god also receives cake as part of this spread. ISKCON also organizes a rath yatra where a silver palanquin bearing the idol is escorted to Juhu beach.
This signifies the desire of the lord to grant darshan to those who cannot visit the shrine.