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March 19, 2008 > Holi the festival of colors

Holi the festival of colors

By Bosky Panjvani

A sprinkle of yellow here and a dash of blue there is what you'll see on March 22, as the Indian Hindu community welcomes the vibrancy of spring after the departure of a long and gloomy winter. The festival of Holi, also known as the festival of colors is celebrated on the day after the full moon in early March, in accordance with the Hindu calendar.

Holi was originally celebrated as a harvest festival, but with the course of time, it changed into a celebration commemorating Hindu mythology. According to ancient text, an arrogant King Hiranya Kashyap plotted against his son Prahalad's devotion to Lord Vishnu (Indian deity), and planned to kill his son. After numerous attempts, the King failed to kill the son. His sister Holika decided to step in. Holika was immune to fire (as per a legend) and took her young nephew in her lap and sat inside a circle of fire. In spite of the sibling conspiracy, the nephew remained unscathed and his conniving aunt burned to death. This marked the triumph of good over evil. Every year to commemorate this triumph; huge bonfires are lit on the eve of Holi. People pray while circling these bonfires to ward off evil spirits and welcome good spirits. They pray for good luck and health.

The day after Holi known as Dhuleti, marks the official arrival of spring. People throw colored powder on each other and make merry by singing and dancing. They prepare a drink known as "Thandai" for this day. Young people run around the street splashing colors on everyone they see and soak them with water guns, while elders extend a hand in peace. The streets in India are filled with people chasing each other to smear Gulal (bright red color) and splash colored water on friends and strangers alike. The vibrancy of Holi is visible in the colors and the spirits of the people as they greet each other with color and exchange good spirited laughter. The day ends with the people relaxing after a day of craziness with a shower to wash off the colors.

This festival, celebrated with a myriad of colors is known by different names throughout the states of India. In Bengal this festival is known by the name of Dol Jatra or Dol Purnima, Holi in Gujarat and Northern India, and Shimga or Rangpanchami in Maharashtra.

The Sunnyvale Hindu temple and community centre is hosting a celebration of Holi on March 21- 22. For more information, visit http://www.sunnyvaletemple.org/newsletters/20080308.htm.

Lighting of the bonfire (Holika dahan)
Friday, March 21
8:00 p.m.
Free

Holi celebrations
Saturday, March 22
11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
$5 (children under 5 are free)

Sunnyvale Hindu Temple
420-450 Persian Drive, Sunnyvale
(408) 734-4554

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