- By Rajesh Sharma (Vrindavan Research Institute)
2023.02.21 (Vrindavan Today News): Holi, the festival of colors, is one of the most popular and beloved festivals in India. This festival has been celebrated for centuries, and its roots can be traced back to ancient Hindu tradition. One of the most significant places where Holi is celebrated is in the Braj region of India, where the festival is celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm.
It is no secret that the Mughal emperors were great patrons of the arts and literature, and it is no surprise that they were also captivated by the colorful and joyous festival of Holi. It is said that the great Mughal Emperor Akbar was particularly fond of the Holi celebrations in the Braj region.
In fact, Akbar was so enamored by the festival that he started the tradition of playing Holi in his court. This tradition was carried forward by many other Mughal emperors who continued to celebrate the festival in their courts.
The literature of Braj has also played a significant role in preserving the fame of the Holi celebrations in the region. Many famous poets and writers have written about Holi and the vibrant celebrations that take place in the Braj region.
One such writer was Mughal Emperor Muhammad Shah Rangila, who wrote poems in Brajbhasha under the pen name Sadarang. In his compositions, he vividly describes the scenes of Holi in Braj, capturing the excitement and joy of the festival. Here is a couplet from his writings
Ik gaavat ik been bajaavat, abir gulal liye bhar jhori,
Sadaarang barsat gekul mein khelat Nand Kishori.
Similarly, the famous Nazir Akbarabadi of Agra also infused the colors of Holi into his writings, depicting the festival’s vibrancy and liveliness. Here is one of his couplets on Holi.
Jab phaagan rang jhamakte hon, ab dekh bahaarein Holi ki,
Jab daf ke shor khadagte hon, ab dekh bahaarein Holi ki.
In the 18th century, the king of Kishangarh (in present-day Rajasthan) Sawant Singh, became Sant Nagaridas. He played a huge role in preserving Braj’s Holi not only in painting but also in literature during that period. He wrote Padavlis and an independent book Phag Bilas centered on Holi. Holi related paintings of his court painters are still singing the saga of the pleasing Holi of that Braj.
Braj te sobha Phag ki, Braj ki sobha Phag
Sab jag mein Braj Phag ko, gaavat hai anuraag.”
The literature and art of the Braj region are testimony to the fact that Holi has been an integral part of the culture and tradition of the region for centuries. The festival’s vibrancy and colors have inspired many artists and writers over the years, and they have immortalized the festival in their works.
As we celebrate Holi today, it is essential to remember the rich history and culture that is associated with the festival and the role that literature and art have played in preserving its legacy.