Holi - A Festival To Commomorate Bahujan Burning

Dr. K. Jamanadas,

Holi - What is it and how did it originate?

It is well known that Holi forms one of the important festivals among the Hindus. It is supposed to be festival of Shudras, and is one of the three most important ones in India, the others being Dasera and Diwali. The Dasera is in honour of killing of Ravana and Divali is in honour of killing of Narakasur and noted pesant king Bali. The purpose of Holi, indirectly, is concerned with killing of Hiranyakashyap. The important elements of the festival of Holi are as follows:-

1. A pyre is burnt.
2. Abuses are showered on people, and other obscenities are observed. Dirt, mud etc. is smeared.
3. Festivities are indulged in to celebrate the victory.

Traditional Account

The puranas give an account of hokika burning. The traditional story is that a powerful King Hiranya Kashyapu sent his sister Holika to kill his ten year old only son Pralhad, as he was worshipping Barhmnic god Vishnu against his wishes. Holika had a cloth which could resist burning. She sits with Pralhad on a pyre. The wind blows wrapping Pralhad with the cloth and Holika is burnrd to death. Holi is supposed to be celebrated to commomorate this event.

Purpose of writing puranas

Dr. Ambedkar avers that "This literature arose during the period subsequent to the triumph of Brahmins under the leadership of Pushyamitra" (p.257 W&S vol.3) Original authors were non-brahmin sutas, but later they were ousted by brahmins who made monopoly of it. At that time they were finally edited and extra new subjects, apart from five traditional ones, were incorporated. [W&S vol 3, p.255]. But if you consider the fact that the majority of people were only allowed to know either by reading or hearing, and mostly by hearing, only these so called scriptures and nothing else, it becomes evident that the purpose of these books was rather more for false appeasement rather than information or enlightenment, let alone their progress and liberation, so that they don't aim and strive for any higher literature. The real purpose of Puranas was to misled the dalitbahujan masses regarding their aspirations to knowledge, to curb down their desire for more information and limit their desires to their paltry needs. BSO has always done that and even now, we see that. An example of Gandhi admonishing the savarna leaders for accepting Agnibhoj, an untouchable in the Congress ministry by saying that this will increase the aspirations of these lowly born harijans is well known.

In practice, the stories in Puranas were used to present a make shift explanation for unexplainable capture of Buddhist monuments by the Brahmnical priests and to tell the dalitbahujans that the Brahmnical values are their own, when in fact, the masses were opposed to these values. It was also used to regularize the usurpation of Buddhist temples and tirthas, and thus misleading masses about their real history and heritage.

The above quoted story of Holika is nothing but an eyewash to hoodwink the dalitbahujans. This becomes clear from two cardinal facts. These are:-

1. That the fire for burning the holi is brought from an untouchable. [Ghurye: Caste and Race in India, 1969, Popular Prakashan Bombay, p. 26]

2. It is noteworthy that the festival of rejoicing ends by touching an untaouchable and the taking a bath. ["Rigvedi": marathi book - "aryaachya sanaancha prachin va arvachin itihas" p. 366, 1979, pradnya patha shala mandal, Wai-dist. Satara, M.S.]

There is no satisfactory explanation of these vital clues in this festival in the traditional story of Holika and Pralhada.

Obscenity of Holi

The second aspect of Holi is abusing the people. This goes on from about 15 days before the festival begins and goes on till the culmination of atrocities on the second days of holi. This certainly is a relic of old "Hindu" tradition of adding insult to the injury inflicted upon the old rivals of Hinduism, i.e. Jains and Buddhist. The Jains have somehow, adapted themselves and accepted the supremacy of brahmins, but the Buddhist did not and hence are condemned to be the Untouchables.

Present day obscenity

It is camouflaged in fish pond ceremonies and All fools' conventions and the like, the original traits are seen even today.

The history of Ancient and medieval India is nothing but the history of the struggle for existence of Jains and Buddhists against the tyranny of Brahmanic masters. The trend continues even today. The crucial point of this struggle is that the majority of the oppressed, the 'shudras and ati-shudras' of olden days, in Mahatma Phuley's terminology or 'bahujans' of today as they are now called, in Kanshiram's terminology, sided with the oppressors, not knowing the real enemy, and considering the fetters of their slavery as their ornaments, leading to a situation where the slaves themselves enjoying their slavery and as one modern poet puts it, the prisoners of system guarding the gates of prison. These tyrannies are going on even today, in the name of caste creed and religion.

Examples of Violence in Hinduism

Are there examples of violence? Plenty! No 'avatara' of Brahmanic tradition is without having an arsenal of arms, with a possible exception of 'unworshipable' or 'apujya' Buddha.

Here we will only consider examples by burning, specially because the fire and atrocities of Holi are concerned with the backward castes.

Among others, Kumarila Bhatta was engaged in life and death struggle against Buddhism [See K.Jamanadas, "Tirupati Balaji was a Buddhist Shrine" 1991, Sanjivan Publications]

Swami Apurvanand, an author from Vivekananda's tradition, describes, on the authority of an ancient text "Shankara Vijay" by Anandagiri, how Dharmapala, a Bouddha Aacharya of Nalanda Boudha Vidyapitha was defeated in 'shastrartha' i.e. interpreting old existing texts, without trying to elucidate new principles, by Kumarila Bhatta. Kumarila, an uncle of Buddhist scholar Dharmakirti, being defeated and humiliated by Dharmakirti, decided to study Buddhist shastras as he thought 'it is always necessary to study the enemy before attacking it' and joined Nalanda in the guise of a disciple of Dharmapala, in order to acquire enough knowledge of Buddhism so as to defeat Buddha's doctrine. After studying Buddhism for some time, he challenged his guru Dharmapala, defeated him in 'shastrartha', and saw his guru embrace 'tushanal' i.e. a funeral pyre made up of hay and dry wood. Dharmapala declared before being burnt alive, "I am defeated by brilliance of Kumarila, but still I believe in supremacy of Buddha's doctrine, I am not deviated at all from Buddha, His Dhamma or His Sangha, and so I would renounce my life rather than renounce Buddhism". This is an account from a Brahmanic book and not from a Buddhist one. Shastrartha, Swamiji tells us, involved scholarship i.e.. an ability to quote from ancient texts, literary acumen, ability to debate and argue without cause, without logic, demonstration of so called yogic powers etc. [Swami Apurvananda, "Aacharya Shankara" 2nd edition. 1989, (Marathi translation of Bengali book), Ramakrishna Matha, Dhantoli, Nagpur, p. 94 ff.]

Swami Vivekananda has described how Aacharya Adi Shankara used to enjoy the burning of Buddhist monks after defeating them in shastrartha. This is what he says : "And such was the heart of Shankara that he burned to death lots of Buddhist monks by defeating them in arguments. What can you call such an action on Shankara's part except fanaticism." [Vivekananda: Complete Works vol. VII, p. 117 ff.]

Jains were impaled

It is reported that about eight thousand Jains were killed by impalement when they did not agree with Brahmins' ideology and what is more important is that this incident was celebrated and commemorated by perpetuating a festival in temple of Madurai, which goes on even today. [K.A.N. Sastri - History of South India]. This can denote why 6th of December, 'A day of Mourning' by millions of Bahujan followers of Ambedkar, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists and Muslims, was converted in a 'Day of Victory' by Brahmins over the demolition of Babari Mosque.


There is a practice of Garoba in Maharashtra. On the evening of color festivities, garoba is celebrated by an assemblage of persons tired of 'colour' and dirt and mud. The function is always celebrated outside the town on an open ground either on, or near the cremation ground.

A 'gar' literally means a hook. A vertical pillar is erected to which an horizontal bar is attached. On one end of this horizontal member is a hook. On this hook is attached a big fruit like a pumpkin or a big brinjal, symbolic of a person condemned to be punished. The other end has rope which is held by the people who move and rotate the whole contraption so that the victim on the hook is strangulated and onlookers, among the chanting of songs called 'ganas', and beating of drums, shower 'chana' i.e. grilled gram grains, symbolic of throwing of stones. The author has seen this celebration with a pumpkin on the hook, in his childhood. In olden days, it was said by the elders who actually witnessed this, that an actual human being was hanged. Rajanikant Shastri [in his hindi book "Hindu jati ka utthan aur patan", Kitab Mahal, 1993, pp. 208 ff.] describes 12 cruel practices of Hindus, which were banned by British Govt. in mid ninteenth century. One of them called "charak puja" is the same, what we in Maharashtra call Garoba.

Some examples of Brahmanic sexual exploitation

According to Ramanika Gupta, in certain parts in Bihar, even now, a new dalit bride has to spend the first night with the village head man. [Sugawa, p.69] A bazaar is organized in Dholpur for sale of Dalit girls. [Sugawa, p. 69]

Kamble describes a custom called Okali. On first or second Saturday comming after the Hindu New Years Day (Gudhi padawa), the devadasis, who are mostly daltbahujans, were openly sexually enjoyed in public, about hundred years ago. This is now replaced by another tradition called "Okali", which was in vogue till 1987. It is a festival like 'Rang Panchami'. The young boys from higher castes assemble around a pool of coloured water in front of town temple. Young devadasis in the town stand in front of them in a row, and each receives a sari, a choli and a flower garland. The coloured water is poured over the devadasis who appear virtually naked as the cloths given to them are very thin, scanty, delicate and transparent. The boys play with the bodies of devadasis as they like, doing everything just short of sexual intercourse. All assembled enjoy the scene. This happens in the name of god 'Bili Kallappa'. [Uttam Kamble, Sugawa, p. 81]

Vasant Rajas describes another custom, called "Sidi attu" in town Madakeripura in Karnataka which was in vogue till 1987, when it was banned by the Govt. Here a devadasi is suspended with a hook in her back on one end of a transverse rod placed on a vertical pole planted in ground, and rotated by a rope at the other end. She salutes the gathering, while her garments fly and all the naked lower part of her body is visible to all, for their amusement. This was supposed to bring prosperity to town, and the devadasi used to get a sari, a choli, a coconut and a betel nut, for which she thanked the gathering. [p. 27]

It must be realized that Hinduism is the only religion in the world, which has given religious sanction and provided with religious philosophy to the practice of prostitution. [Sugawa, p. 81]


These we see in the form of sprinkling coloured water on each other, dry colours in the form of 'gulal' and distributing sweets, and indulging in intoxicants like liquor and 'bhang', (i.e. cannabis indica) and gambling in many ways.

Though the sprinkiling coloured water was perhaps in vogue since long time, the name of Lord Krishna got associated with the colouring part of festival, in medieval times. It is said that He was playing his divine "leelas" with the women folk of Brindavana. We can consider these as merely symbols of Brahmanic victory over the original inhabitants of India. It is well known that "Madhura bhakti" was brought to North India from Bengal after "Gitgovind" of Jaydeva, declaring Buddha as an avatara became popular, after fall of Buddhism.

It should become clear from the above account, that this festival, mainly concerns with dalitbahujans. They should try to understand the implied meaning under the tradtions and the slaves should stop enjoying the slavery.

Murder of great rebellious Marathi saint poet Tukaram

Tukaram was the greatest of the Marathi saints of "Varkari" cult, the credit of establishing which is given to Namdeva, and not to Dyandeva as previously thought. This is because it was Dyanadeva who went to Namdeva and not vice versa as put forward by Bahujan historian M. M. Deshmukh. The Brahmanic scholars describe Tukaram very mild, though he was the most rebellious against brahmanic tyranny. Following information is mainly drawn from A. H. Salunkhe's Marathi book "Vidrohi Tukaram". He comments that "a lion is depicted by them as a she-goat". Two hundred years before Karl Marx, at the age of 20, he drowned his mortgage deeds of money loaned to farmers by his family. He criticized Vedic "knowledge", Brahmanic tyranny and caste supremacy all his life, and was an eye-sore for them. They drowned all his note books of "abhanga", as his verses were known.

He was preaching against caste and varna system, and talked bitterly against Untouchability. He got Bahinabai, one of his brahmin lady disciples, to translate Sanskrit Buddhist Classic "Vajrasuchi" - a strong critique of caste system - of Ashvaghosha to Marathi.

Tukaram was tried in court of law for the so called offenses of (1) preaching message of "shruti" though a shudra, (2) for having brahmin disciples, and (3) allowing these brahmin disciples to touch his feet. Though it was reign of Bijapur Sultan, the disputes of non-muslims were conducted under hindu "dharma- sastras" and hindu traditions by brahmins. He was punished by (i) drowning his poetry and forbidding to write more, (ii) confiscating his property, (iii) excommunicating and boycotting him and (iv) driving him out of the town. His property was looted. Later, during Nanasahib Peshava's Brahmin rule, it was prohibited to sing his abhangas.

Tukaram retaliated by "satyagraha", he sat on the banks of river for 13 days without food or water. The common masses supported him, assembled around him and the boycott and driving away was futile and ineffectual. The calm was maintained but the situation remained tense. His struggle against brahmanism was continuous for about next 22 years. We have to understand his death occurring under this back ground, at the young age of 42 years.

The day of His death

He had to suffer a lot at the hands of these priestly class tyrants all his life, and ultimately he was taken to "vaikuntha with mortal body", as they put it and tell the gullible masses that he was taken to vaikuntha in a "vimana", specially sent by gods, a feat not occurring for any of the Brahmin saints, but only for this shudra. It is written by many that he "disappeared" while doing a "kirtan" on the banks of river, some two furlongs away from the town. Without going into several opinions, for which readers are referred to read Salunkhe's book in original, all it means is that his dead body was not found. The day was the day of Holi, "dhulvad" as is popularly known, and as "Dhuli vandan" in Brahmanic books, the second day of dark half of month of Falgun. This is the day of obscenity, dirty deeds and drunken bouts, the "garoba" and all that goes with it. It is a wonder, nobody has explained why gods selected this day to send the vimana for him. In any case, for all the dalitbahujan devotees of Tukaram, it is the day of mourning and not of rejoicing, as they presently seem to be doing. It was on this day that their saviour was murdered.

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