This is a week of celebrations. Whether you are celebrating Holi, the Hindu Festival of Color, a time of mirth and playfulness, or the Christian Holy Week, in observation of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, or the Jewish Festival of Unleavened Bread, or Passover – it is a season associated with renewal and rejuvenation, a time of rejoicing and liberation.
Here in the northern hemisphere spring officially arrived last week, an event celebrated for eons by most cultures with rites and rituals. As with Holi festivities, Nature celebrates with the arrival of rainbows of color – in the sky during spring rains on a sunny day, and in plants bursting forth with vivid colors to attract waking pollinators. “We’ve survived winter!” said our ancestors, “its time to get outside, plant, work hard, and start the cycle all over. But first let’s celebrate!”
Hindu celebrations of Holi have an abandonment to them, a loosening of decorum as women join together with men in rambunctious festivities that involve spraying powder or liquid color on one another and other prankish behaviors. I’ve read there is a saying “It’s okay, its Holi!” There is forgiveness build in to the lightheartedness. There seems to be many legends as to the origin of Holi, most have to do with Krishna, perhaps the original prankster who, as a young man, would tease the Gopis and steal cheese from the village women, but he was always forgiven due to his loving sweetness (of course there were, and are, spiritual lessons to be taught through his behavior.)
Easter also has a strong element of forgiveness, what greater example of forgiveness is there than Jesus’ proclamation, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” as his crucifiers gambled for his clothes. The spirit of rebirth and hope celebrated on Easter Sunday follows the act of forgiveness on Good Friday.
Forgiveness often has ’heaviness’ to it as people ponder the act of forgiving small slights to huge atrocities committed by individuals or groups. Sometimes the most difficult is self-forgiveness for our own shortcomings. If you read stories of people who have forgiven those who committed heinous acts against them, there is always an element of release so they could move forward, lightening up to begin anew. I would suggest you know when you have truly forgiven by those attributes – the letting go of bitterness and being able to move forward. On the other side of forgiveness is a place of light and lightness, ‘spring cleaning’ ones heart in preparation for rebirth and rejuvenation.
Is there forgiveness in Nature? I believe so. When I see a clear-cut, previously scarred, and often burned, full of blooming foxgloves, or watch a dog wag its tail, ready for a pat after being yelled at, I think Nature sets a fine example for forgiveness. (Flowers covering human scars on the earth, animals instinctively showing loyalty for what could be considered the need for food, may not be your idea of Nature exhibiting forgiveness, but try to imagine it as such, and indulge me!). There have been studies of chimpanzees who clearly exhibited acts of forgiveness. They share 98.4% of our DNA, apparently forgiveness is in that shared DNA.
Though International Forgiveness Day is in August, I would venture that this season of joy and renewal is also a season of forgiveness, for in the forgiving we open ourselves to, and leave room for, the joyousness of rejuvenation. The theme of triumph over evil is present in the Easter story of Jesus and many of the Holi stories of Krishna. Passover, another spring holiday, celebrates liberation from oppression. Spring rites, older than all of these religious celebrations, celebrate victory over the darkness and harshness of winter. A victors heart is a forgiving heart.
Whatever you celebrate this week – Holi, Easter, Spring, or one of the many other spring holidays and celebrations found throughout the world, begin with forgiveness – feel the freedom of a “lightened load” – then let the joy in!
You are encouraged to share in the comments sections your own religious, spiritual, personal spring celebrations of renewal.