India is the land of festivals and commemorations. No month passes without an observance.
That’s not surprising.
The country has documented historical markers of its traditions preserved in its vast literature, ancient monuments, and stone carvings scattered across the country.
In addition, India also has a unique oral tradition of songs, dances, and festivals with stories. It helped to permeate its cultural values through the millennia for future generations. This oral tradition truly safeguarded the culture despite multiple foreign invasions by Moghuls, Turks, Arabs, and Mongols that started in the early 10th century. They lasted for more than 800 years resulting in burnt libraries and universities; demolished temples and seminaries.
The resilience of the culture was tested, but India survived with its festivals celebrating nature, changes of seasons, family bonds, and historical events.
One of the first festivals in the beginning of the year is Holi, a vibrant and joyous commemoration, welcoming the arrival of spring. It is celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Phalguna (usually falls in late February or early March).
Although the festival has Hindu roots, it is celebrated by people of all religions in India. Its positive, inclusive, and loving character is attracting audiences in the rest of the world, including the United States.
The towns of Mathura and Vrindavan in India, associated with Lord Krishna, celebrate Holi with a somewhat philosophical character, singing and dancing to special Holi songs. These songs and poems are filled with metaphors portraying the close bond between humans and God.
Celebrations usually start the night before with bonfires to symbolize the victory of good, true faith, and devotion over evil. The festival centers on an ancient story of a god-fearing prince named Prahalad, who disabled the plot laid by his tyrannical father, king Hiranyakashipu and wicked aunt Holika.
On the following day, the festivities commence with family, friends, and neighbors gathering in public places. They engage in playful activities involving dry-colored powders called “gulal” and colored-water-filled water guns, drenching each other and smearing colors while dancing to music.
This festival is especially popular among children, who are allowed to spray colored water unabashedly on anyone they choose, regardless of age. They seek out individuals in the cleanest clothes in the neighborhoods and streets to attack, drenching them in multi-colors. No complaints are permitted, and the celebration ends with hugs and the distribution of goodies and drinks.
An interesting aspect of this festival is the idea of forgiving and forgetting past ill feelings and building harmony among all. People renew relationships and strengthen bonds of friendship and brotherhood. This festival promotes unity, love, and joy, bringing people together from all walks of life.
The goal is to fill the space with spring colors, promoting love and friendship while overcoming dark, negative forces.
The Hindu Society of Minnesota has organized the Satrangi Holi (Seven Colors of Holi) celebrations from 2 to 6 p.m. on Saturday, March 18, at Central Middle School, 8025 School Road, in Eden Prairie. Further details are available by emailing email@example.com.
Vijay Dixit, chairman of the Shreya R. Dixit Memorial Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit advocating for distraction-free driving, serves as a board member of Eden Prairie Local News and as a member of the EPLN Development Committee and Journalism team.
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