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Dr K K Aggarwal

Tips for a safe Holi

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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  1. Green and bluish green chemicals contain malachite green, which can be toxic to the eyes. Auramine, methyl violet, rhodamine and orange II are all phototoxic colors and can damage the skin.
  2. Mica in Holi colors can damage the skin.
  3. Instead of chemical dyes, one should use floral dyes. Flowers like Marigold, China rose, Butterfly Pea, Flame of the Forest etc. are used for the extraction of colors.
  4. ‘Bhang’ or cannabis can precipitate acute abnormal mental behavior and psychosis. In the susceptible individuals, it can increase the heart rate and blood pressure. Pre treatment with a beta blocker can take away the bad effects of bhang.
  5. Alcohol can impair judgment and make prone to accidents.
  6. Balloons can cause blunt injuries to the eyes and precipitate head injuries.
  7. Beware of date rape drugs. Do not play Holi with strangers.
  8. Do not throw color at sensitive parts of the body, such as eyes. If color enters the eye, immediately wash it with a lot of water. If irritation persists, medical aid should be sought immediately.

 

Holashtak refer to the eight days prior to Holi festival and is considered inauspicious in mythology

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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In North India, Holashtak begins on the Phalgun Shukla Ashtami (eighth day during the waxing phase of moon in Falgun month) and ends on the Phalgun Purnima day (full moon day). The Purnima day is observed as Holika Dahan.

It is considered inauspicious to perform auspicious ceremonies during the period like marriage, housewarming or any of the sanskars. People also avoid starting of new business etc. The day is considered ideal for performing Dhaan – alms giving.

The difference between Holi and Diwali is that holi is observed in Uttarayana (the period with positive state of mind) and Diwali in Dakshinayana (the period with negative state of mind).

In Holi we try to make up with our enemies and in Diwali we redefine our existing friendships.

Holi means burning negativity in our mind and in the mind of our enemies. This can only happen in a period of positive state of mind (first six months of the year). The process of removing negativity requires multiple attempts. As per mythology it requires eight days (or eight attempts) to remove the negative attitude of a person and hence the word Holasthak.

During the period one is trying to wash out the negativity, it is best to avoid calling people for community functions as in that case you will need to call the one with whom you are trying to patch up and the same may not be in sound frame of mind with you and you may end up with an uncomfortable situation.

Holi beyond Colors

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The story behind the festival, Holi, starts with Holika, the sister of Hiranyakashyap, the father of Prahlad. Hiranyakashyap had declared himself as GOD and wanted his son Prahlad to worship him and not Vishnu. When Prahlad refused to do the same, he was made to sit with Holika in an open fire. Holika had a boon that she could not be burned even if she was on live fire. When she was made to sit with Prahlad on the live fire, the opposite happened. She lost her life and was burned but Prahlad came out alive from the fire. The above story has a deep spiritual meaning. Hiranyakashyap represents “ego”, which when takes control makes a person forget about his own consciousness, so that the person thinks that he is the supreme power. The same symbolic representation is seen with Ravana in Ramayana and Kansa in Mahabharata. Prahlad symbolizes a person with self realization or the son of God or one’s consciousness or one’s true self. The consciousness cannot be burned, cut, dried or made wet by anything. It is imperishable and everlasting. All those people who have acquired self realization utilizing any of the pathway (Bhakti, Karma and Gnana) are in a state of GOD acquaintance and nothing can destroy them. The obstacles to the pathway of self-realization are mentioned as “attachment, anger, desire, greed and ego”. When all these negative factors overpower any individual, it leads one away from self realization or away from God. Holika denotes the sum total of the negative forces in the body which can kill you if not controlled in time. Getting attached to any of the 5 senses can end in a vicious cycle and one can get burnt in this ‘chakravyuha’ of attachments. If you are truthful, and have attained a state of one-point contemplation on a known truth, all the negative forces will stay away. All such negative forces if repressed within the body can burn you out over a period of time and that is one of the reasons why all negative emotions should never be suppressed or repressed. The practice of burning Holi a day before the festival symbolizes burning all your negative thoughts or emotions embedded in the mind and neutralize all the poison arising due to the negative feelings. As soon as the negativity is removed from the mind there is opening of the spiritual vision or the knowledge of the consciousness. Once this is done, only the positive thoughts remain, which is celebrated as sharing and loving each other, the next day. Sharing love is the biggest thing one can do in removing all the above mentioned obstacles to self-realization. Spreading love reduces anger as well as desires, detaches one from various attachments, reduces greed, and brings humility in a person. By burning one’s ego and other negative qualities, one also burns the ill-feeling amongst each other and makes everybody a friend. During Holi, the practice therefore, is to visit and meet not only your friends but also those people whom you are not friendly with. The festival of Holi is therefore an opportunity to spread brotherhood and happiness in the society. WHO defines health as not mere absence of disease but a state of physical, mental, spiritual, social and environmental wellbeing. Holi, therefore, is a classical example or a custom to create “social healthiness” amongst the general society. The habit of throwing water on each other also has a deep spiritual meaning. It basically means removing dirt from each other. Dirt here does not means bodily dirt but mental dirt, which once removed leads to spiritual cleanliness. The whole meaning is not to play Holi superficially or meet each other at a superficial level but to get rid of the negativity at the level of the mind as well. There is no point in celebrating Holi and meeting people unless you remove your negative thoughts about them from the mind. When you lovingly smear ‘gulal’ (coloured powder) on others, they reciprocate with doubled love and affection. Similarly, always think of good things about people. Express your positive thoughts about these friends loudly – not only in front of them but also in their absence. Don’t you think your heart will throb with pleasure when they reciprocate?

Holi beyond Colors

By Dr K K Aggarwal
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The story behind the festival, Holi, starts with Holika, the sister of Hiranakashyap, the father of Prahalad.

Hirnakashyap had declared himself as GOD and wanted his son Prahalad to worship him and not Vishnu. When Prahalad refused to do the same, he was made to sit with Holika in an open fire. Holika had a boon that she would not be burned even if she was on live fire. When she was made to sit with Prahalad on the live fire, the opposite happened. She lost her life and got burned but Prahalad came out alive from the fire.

The above story has a deep spiritual meaning. Here, Hiranakashyap represents the “ego” which when takes control makes one forget about their own consciousness and makes one think of themselves as the supreme power. The same symbolic representation is seen with Ravana in Ramayana and Kansa in Mahabharata.

Prahalad here represents a person with self realization or the son of God or one’s consciousness or one’s true self. The consciousness cannot be burned, cut, dried or made wet by anything. It is imperishable and everlasting.

All those people who have acquired self realization utilizing any of the pathway (Bhakti, Karma and Gnana) are in a state of GOD acquaintance and nothing can destroy them.

The obstacles to the pathway of self realization are mentioned as “attachment, anger, desire, greed and ego”. When all these negative factors overpower any individual, it leads one away from self realization or away from God. Holika here represents the sum total of the negative forces in the body which can kill you if not controlled in time.

Getting attached to any of the 5 senses can end in a vicious cycle and one can get burnt in this ‘chakravyuha’ of attachments. If you are truthful, and have attained a state of one–point contemplation on a known truth, all the negative forces will stay away. All such negative forces if repressed within the body can burn you out over a period of time and that is one of the reasons why all negative emotions should never be suppressed or repressed.

The practice of burning Holi a day before the festival symbolizes burning of all your negative thoughts or emotions embedded in the mind and neutralize all the poison arising due to the negative feelings. As soon as the negativity is removed from the mind there is opening of the spiritual vision or the knowledge of the consciousness. Once this is done, only the positive thoughts remain, which is celebrated as sharing and loving each other, the next day.

Sharing love is the biggest thing one can do in removing all the above mentioned 5 obstacles to self–realization. Spreading love reduces anger as well as desires, detaches one from various attachments, reduces greed, and brings humility in a person. By burning one’s ego and other negative qualities, one also burns the ill feeling amongst each other and makes everybody a friend.

During Holi, the practice therefore, is to visit and meet not only your friends but also those people to whom you are not friendly. The festival therefore, is an opportunity to spread brotherhood and happiness in the society.

WHO defines health as not mere absence of disease but a state of physical, mental, spiritual, social and environmental wellbeing. Holi, therefore, is a classical example or a custom to create and enhance “social health” amongst the general society.

The habit of throwing water on each other also has a deep spiritual meaning. It basically means removing dirt from each other. Dirt here does not means bodily dirt but mental dirt, which once removed leads to spiritual cleanliness.

The whole meaning is not to play Holi superficially or meet each other at a superficial level but to get rid of the negativity at the level of the mind as well. There is no point in celebrating Holi and meeting people unless you remove your negative thoughts about them from the mind.

When you lovingly smear ‘gulal’ (colored powder) on others, they reciprocate with doubled love and affection. Similarly, always think of good things about people. Express your positive thoughts about these friends loudly – not only in front of them but also in their absence. Don’t you think your heart will throb with pleasure when they reciprocate?

Play safe this Holi: Balloons may be Harmful

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Water balloons used by children during Holi can be dangerous and can cause blunt eye injury or even head injury. There can be bleeding in the eyes, lens subluxation, macular edema or retinal detachment. These can lead to loss of vision or even loss of the eye.

Most synthetic colours are harmful to the eyes or skin.  Home-made colours from flowers are always better. Chemical colours may contain heavy metals like lead, which is harmful to the eyes and skin. Other health hazards due to the exposure to heavy metals include skin allergies, dermatitis, drying and chapping of the skin, skin cancer, rhinitis, asthma and pneumonia.

Make your own colours

  • Mix ‘Haldi’ (turmeric) with besan (gram flour) to get yellow colour
  • Soak Tesu flowers overnight or boil them to get saffron or bright orange colour.
  • Soak ‘Beetroot’ pieces in water for magenta colour.

Chemicals that enter the eye may cause mild allergy or even severe chemical burn in the eye. A patient may present with allergic conjunctivitis, chemical burn, corneal abrasion or blunt eye injury. Most colours used during Holi usually cause mild redness and irritation lasting for up to 48 hours. If clarity of vision is affected, it’s an emergency. The particles in colour powders (shining mica particles in ‘gulal’) can cause damage to the cornea. Corneal abrasion is an emergency and one should immediately consult the eye doctor or ophthalmologist.

First aid: Splash your eyes with a lot of tap water, if colour enters the eye. If there is loss of vision or corneal abrasions, rush to the eye doctor.

Spread the message of Holi: Communicate to remove mental impurities

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Holi is a festival of love and joy and should be used as a medium of communication to remove the mental dirt and impurities and cleanse the mind

Holi festival should not end up with quarrels, violence or eve teasing.

Unsafe Holi

  • Green and bluish green chemicals contain malachite green, which can be toxic to the eyes. Auramine, methyl violet, rhodamine and orange II are all phototoxic colours and can damage the skin.
  • Mica in Holi colours can damage the skin.
  • Instead of chemical dyes, one should use floral dyes. Flowers likeMarigold,Chinarose, Butterfly Pea, Flame of the Forest etc. are used for the extraction of colours.
  • ‘Bhang’ or cannabis can precipitate acute abnormal mental behavior and psychosis. In the susceptible individuals, it can increase the heart rate and blood pressure. Pre treatment with a beta blocker can take away the bad effects of bhang.
  • Alcohol can impair judgment and make prone to accidents.
  • Balloons can cause blunt injuries to the eyes and precipitate head injuries.
  • Beware of date rape drugs. Do not play Holi with strangers.
  • Do not throw colour at sensitive parts of the body, such as eyes. If colour enters the eye, immediately wash it with a lot of water. If irritation persists, medical aid should be sought immediately.

Some tips

  • Use dental caps to protect teeth from staining.
  • Use sunglasses to keep eyes safe from the harmful chemicals of the colours.
  • Wear old and ragged clothes that may be discarded.
  • Wear full-sleeved T-shirts or shirts and leggings that fully cover the legs.
  • Wear socks.
  • Brightly coloured and dark coloured clothes should be preferred.
  • Keep your eyes and lips tightly closed, when colour is being applied on you.
  • Apply a thick layer of any oil on your body and hair till they glisten to make the skin slippery.  This will help wash off colours easily later on.
  • While washing off the colour, use lukewarm water and keep eyes and lips tightly closed.
  • While traveling, keep the car windows tightly shut.
  • Use a hat, cap to protect the hair from being coloured with hard-to rinse dyes/colours.
  • If you venture out on the streets, avoid mob frenzy.
  • Do not bump into the frenzied group of mob if you take to streets. Cross the road to the sidewalk across. Or, simply stay at a safe distance.
  • Discourage children to play Holi with eggs, mud or gutter water.
  • Avoid use of abir as it has flakes of mica.
  • Stop children from forcibly applying colour on a hesitant neighbor.
  • Don’t walk alone on the streets on the day of Holi.
  • Use only natural colour and water.
  • Keep a big bucket of clean water handy for your children, so that they do not resort to gutter water and other unclean sources.

Treat Holi as Holy

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The general population should be cautioned to refrain from taking alcoholic drinks while celebrating Holi as excess use of alcoholic drinks can lead to fatal vehicular accidents and also end up into fatal quarrels.

Alcohol acts at the level of intellect and causes its dysfunction. It further leads to loss of power of discrimination and impairment of judgment. Thus, loosing the power to judge individuals and discriminate between the opposites. The person looses all social inhibitions which can lead to indulgence into use of foul language amongst each other ending up into fatal quarrels.

The impairment in judgment can also lead to errors during driving leading to fatal accidents. Three to four drinks are sufficient to raise the blood pressure to dangerously high levels in susceptible individuals. In patients who are prone to heart attacks, this dangerous rise in blood pressure can not only precipitate heart attack, but also paralysis and brain hemorrhage. The incidence of paralytic attacks is found to be high within 24 hours of heavy drinking.

Binge drinking (more than 5 pegs at a time) is also associated with irregular heart beats and increased incidence of sudden death. Heart and high blood pressure patients are therefore specifically cautioned not to indulge into heavy drinking. Drinking one peg of alcohol (one ounce) in one hour can still be considered as safe (social drinking) as this amount of alcohol can be totally metabolized by the liver during one hour.

Women, in whom this habit is becoming day-by-day a fancy should especially refrain from heavy drinking as they cannot digest alcohol as much as men can. The reason is that the level of particular enzyme called Gastric Alcohol Dehydrogenase that helps in alcohol metabolism is by nature much lower in women than men.

Consuming six tablets of paracetamol with alcohol, which is a common practice to reduce the hang over specifically by women, can produce fatal liver damage, and hence the habit of taking these pills should be condemned. Taking aspirin, also, to reduce the hang over can produce fatal hemorrhage in the stomach and hence should be avoided.

The impairment in judgment and co-ordination due to alcohol during daytime at work is also responsible for loss of manpower and gross negligent actions in the factory.

The festival of Holi is to share happiness with each other while forgetting all the differences and should never be allowed to end up into a sad episode of morbidity for some one. Similarly the practice of consuming bhang which can cause impairment in judgment and brain functioning should also be avoided.

The story behind the festival, Holi, starts with Holika, the sister of Hirnakashyap the father of Prahalad. Hirnakashyap had declared himself as GOD and wanted his son Prahalad to worship him and not Vishnu. When Prahalad refused to do the same, he was made to sit with Holika in an open fire. Holika had a boon that she could not be burned even if she was on live fire. When she was made to sit with Prahalad on the live fire, the opposite happened. She lost her life and got burned but Prahalad came out alive from the fire.

The above story has a deep spiritual meaning. Hirnakashyap here represents “EGO” which when takes control; one forgets about his own consciousness and thinks that he is the supreme power. The same symbolic representation is seen with Ravana in Ramayana and Kansa in Mahabharata.

Prahalad here represents a person with self realization or the son of God or one’s consciousness or one’s true self. The consciousness cannot be burned, cut, dried or made wet by anything. It is imperishable and everlasting.

All those people who have acquired self realization utilizing any of the pathway (bhakti, karma and gyana) are in a state of GOD acquaintance and nothing can destroy them.

The obstacles to the pathway of self realization are mentioned as “attachment, anger, desire, greed and ego”. When all these negative factors overpower any individual, it leads one away from self realization or away from God. Holika here represents the sum total of the negative forces in the body which can kill you if not controlled in time.

Getting attached to any of the 5 senses can end in a vicious cycle and one can get burnt in this ‘chakarvyuha’ of attachments. If you are truthful, and have attained a state of one-point contemplation on a known truth, all the negative forces will stay away. All such negative forces if repressed within the body can burn you out over a period of time and that is one of the reasons why all negative emotions should never be suppressed or repressed.

The practice of burning Holi a day before the festival symbolizes burning all your negative thoughts or emotions embedded in the mind and neutralize all the poison arising due to the negative feelings. As soon as the negativity is removed from the mind there is opening of the spiritual vision or the knowledge of the consciousness. Once this is done, only the positive thoughts remain, which is celebrated as sharing and loving each other, the next day.

Sharing love is the biggest thing one can do in removing all the above mentioned
5 obstacles to self-realization. Spreading love reduces anger as well as desires, detaches one from various attachments, reduces greed, and brings humility in a person. By burning ones ego and other negative qualities, one also burns the ill feeling amongst each other and makes everybody a friend.

During Holi, the practice therefore, is to visit and meet not only your friends but also those people to whom you are not friendly. The festival therefore, is an opportunity to spread brotherhood and happiness in the society.

WHO defines health as not mere absence of disease but a state of physical, mental, spiritual, social and environmental wellbeing. Holi, therefore, is a classical example or a custom to create “social healthiness” amongst the general society.

The habit of throwing water on each other, also has a deep spiritual meaning. It basically means removing dirt from each others body. Dirt here does not means bodily dirt but mental dirt which once removed leads to spiritual cleanliness.

The whole meaning is not to play Holi superficially or meet each other at a superficial level but to get rid of the negativity at the level of the mind as well. There is no point in celebrating Holi and meeting people unless you remove your negative thoughts about them from the mind.

When you lovingly smear ‘gulal’ (coloured powder) on others, they reciprocate with doubled love and affection. Similarly, always think of good things about people. Express your positive thoughts about these friends loudly – not only in front of them but also in their absence. Don’t you think your heart will throb with pleasure when they reciprocate?