Shaivism - Concepts and symbols - Nakedness, Ash and Rainbows
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Alain Danielou – Gods of Love and Ecstasy: The traditions of Shiva and Dionysus
During the Spring festival, nowadays known as Holi in India, a naked man represents Shiva; he is smeared with white plaster or ash and, bearing a trident, is led in procession riding an ass. In the animal world, the ass is "untouchable", the representative of the humble: Jesus, too, entered Jerusalem riding on an ass.
Shiva is preceded by a rowdy crowd wearing wooden phalli or bearing images of ithyphallic monkeys. The participants sing and dance, shout obscenities and hurl insults. Many of them have pails full of coloured water and long squirts with which they spray each other, a practice which has been replaced elsewhere by confetti. This is the day on which the oppressed have the right to insult the powerful, which they never fall to do, and no grudges are held against them afterwards.