I have been to India fourteen times. I have even been in India during the Holi festival. I have had first-hand experience of this Hindu festival and have spoken to dozens of Christian Indians about their perspective on this festival. One of my close friends, Pastor “P” recently messaged me to pray as they approached this Hindu festival. He was reaching out because, as a Christian, this is an extremely unpredictable time. He mentioned how some people will throw acid and other chemicals instead of the well-known colored powered. Also, personal property is often targeted and destroyed. For the Christians, they are often the primary target, so during this festival, they will bunker down and stay at home. Pastor “P” said that “it is an evil festival.”
Historically, this festival marks the start of spring. CNN recently posted a short article where you can read a very brief history of this Hindu festival.
Last year, when I was in India, it was the beginning of Spring and the Holi festival was in full swing. From our hotel we watched the festivities take place and hundreds of small bonfires ornately decorated go up in flames. From a natural perspective, it was a really beautiful site. However, the demonic roots run deep, and our souls were burdened. Ironically, at the same time, back in the States the local cities and schools color run season were also in full swing. Pictures of friends covered head to toe were posted all over Facebook. Understanding the American culture, I know that my American friends had no clue about the Holi festival and their participation in their local color run was innocent. But my Indian friends were asking me, “why are these Christians participating in this event?” From my hotel window, the scene playing out below on the streets of Mumbai looked very similar to the colorful Facebook pictures of my friend’s smiling faces. To my Indian friends, they did not see a difference and they were left confused. To them, this colorful festival was a heavy time where persecution could erupt without warning. To my American friend, it was a fun event where money was raised for charity.
After I returned home, I spoke with one of my friends who participated in a local color run. I wanted to know more about the culture of the event. As I told this person about the Holi festival, they were in shock and quickly defended the color run and explained that no part of the event they participated in carried any religious undertones. As we were speaking, I pulled up the website where this individual registered for the color run and clicked on the “About” page. Sure enough, there was an article detailing the Hindu Holi festival as the inspiration for this event. To be fair, I think that this website was unique because as I checked out other color run websites, I did not find anything linking those runs to the Holi festival.
So where does this leave us? As Christians, these local U.S. based color runs are widely innocent. However, we should not disregard the perspective of our Christian brothers and sisters in India. To them, they are living under the demonic pressure of Hinduism. Also, Biblically speaking, there are firm and unavoidable exhortations to separate from pagan practices (see Deut. 12 and Romans 12) and to be consecrated wholly to the Lord. I would leave you to draw your own conclusions but permit me to leave you with the words of Paul the Apostle to the Thessalonian church, “Test all things; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:21-22, NKJV).
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