On March 9, we’ll celebrate the last full moon of winter in the Northern Hemisphere and Holi! In India, the lunar festival of Holi signifies the emergence of spring, beginning on this last full moon of the winter season. Holi is the second largest festival on the Hindu calendar, falling only behind Diwali. It’s the fire festival of Lord Krishna, the deity of abundance, auspiciousness, and all that is good in life. The celebration of Holi began in Vrindavan, the birthplace of Krishna, over three thousand years ago, and has since spread across the entirety of India, known commonly as the Festival of Colors and Festival of Love.
Holi, in present time, generally lasts for two days. All jealousies, envy, and quarrels are symbolically burned in great bonfires. Crops of the new season are given in offering. Misunderstandings are forgotten. Perhaps more than anything, Holi is a celebration of life. Welcoming the spring is honoring the creative life force in everything. When we add color to something, we give life to it; we’re painting our canvases of life.
Unification through art, performance, sharing of food, and sensual expression abound during the Festival of Love. Colored powder and flower petals are thrown with abandon. Societal roles are inverted, featuring humorous gender rivalry. Women take to the street and beat men with sticks, public officials are taunted and covered in colored water and powder, and children play tricks on parents and teachers without censor. The Festival of Love is messy, covering everyone with the same paint. Its magic reminds us we are all equal at heart and play. We’re all human, none of us immune to dirt. Life is what we make of it, and India has its finger on this pulse.
Saucha is one of the Niyamas of Yoga. The Niyamas are practices of observation about how we view and relate to ourselves. Saucha includes the purity of our bodies and the inner purity of our minds – it’s about cleanliness. Sri Swami Satchidananda, well-known translator of the Yoga Sutras, tells us Saucha means coming to terms with our inherent human uncleanness. He helps us understand this practice as accepting our human bodies as they are; to be at peace and at ease with our physicality. Many of us were taught that the body and its desires are in need of purification, as if we were “dirty.” Saucha is the practice of acceptance – not rejecting or trying to conquer ourselves, but to enjoy our human experience.
The full moon on March 9 will be in the sign Virgo and Virgo carries similar energy to Saucha. I don’t believe words can fully capture either in their essence. You know them by experience, by the joy you feel in understanding and receiving the perfection of your imperfection. Virgo is associated with the virgin and purity. It definitely correlates with “operation clean up,” but not in the ways our minds most commonly likes to take us. What does it mean to be pure? Virgo and Saucha guide us to remember who we are at our core, heart and essence. Virgo harnesses the power of discrimination and filtration. It serves to help us serve ourselves by releasing impurities that are not in alignment with our true essence.
As ruler of the small intestines, Virgo is in charge of deciding what to absorb and assimilate, and what to release for elimination. This same process in the gut is happening in our mental, emotional, and energetic bodies. People will talk of this coming Virgo Full Moon as a “detoxifying moon,” and yes, it’s a great time to purge toxins, and eat and drink clean, but it’s so much more than that. If you want a good measure of what’s happening inside of you, look to what’s coming out of you. Pay attention to your words and actions, and their quality. What thoughts rule your mind? What does your presence bring to the world around you? What’s your body showing you through your skin, energy, and any dis-ease? What distractions and barriers keep presenting themselves? What color do you bring to each day? How well are you digesting life?
Virgo has a deep obsessive need to get and set things right. Sometimes, adjustments are needed to make things better. Other times, nothing is “wrong” and there is nothing to fix. Virgos are learning many things, but one prominent theme is learning to develop an accurate sense of self. This accurate sense of self has nothing to do with right or wrong. It’s the self that simply is – pure and whole unto itself. Saucha and Virgo remind us that we don’t have to be different from how and what we are.
What’s your true essence? Will you allow this Virgo Full Moon to show you more? Will you join the heartbeat of India with your own display of colors to welcome spring? If we accept that our bodily functions, emotions, and actions are naturally messy, we make room for more pure expression, enjoyment, and passion for life. We can choose to improve the things that truly make a difference, and let the others go. The Virgo in you is your temple. You are your church or sanctuary. Care for it well, for it’s the home of your spirit.
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