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March 4, 2009 > A colorful celebration

A colorful celebration

By Meenu Gupta

"O Wind, If Winter comes can Spring be far behind?" P.B. Shelley wrote about his hopes for the future. Holi marks the end of winter gloom and rejoices in the bloom of springtime. A new season, a harbinger of hope, hope that economy will soon be better.

The festival of Holi spreads hope, unfettered joy, friendship and bright hues of colors. In India, streets come alive with throngs of people splashing bright orange, red and green colors as they meet each other and celebrate friendship and harmony. Indian people in the U.S. celebrate the festival with traditional fervor, spreading the message of unity and harmony amidst diversity. Colors fill the atmosphere at Fremont Hindu Temple this year like every other, as people gather to celebrate the arrival of spring.

"It is such a colorful and cheerful sight to watch people coloring each other. Every year around 600-800 people play Holi in Fremont Hindu Temple," says Ajay Jain Bhutoria, Chairman of the Youth Committee. "Children take special delight in the festival. And it is not just children, but the young and the old alike who take delight in this joyous festival of colors."

The festival is about abandoning cares of the world and rejoicing and dancing. "Life becomes colorful. On this day, people do not differentiate between age or race, and everybody celebrates the festival together with a spirit of brotherhood," he added.

Holi is an ancient festival of India and was originally known as Holika. Holi is essentially the celebration of various legends associated with the festival.

One famous legend, narrated over the generations, says there once lived a mighty demon king named Hiranyakashyap who had won all three worlds - heaven, earth and hell - and had thus become very proud. He enforced a law that everybody would worship him instead of gods and deities. However, his little son Prahlad refused to accept his commands and continued to worship Lord Vishnu with complete devotion. Infuriated by this defiance by his son, Hiranyakshyap asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap, as she had the ability to enter fire unscathed. Legend has it that Prahlad was saved by his extreme devotion for the lord while Holika paid a heavy price for her sinister desire. The tradition of burning Holika comes from this legend.

Holi also celebrates the legend of Hindu Goddess Radha and Lord Krishna, which describes the extreme delight Krishna took in applying color on Radha and others. It is said that when Krishna was a young boy, he asked his mother the reason for his dark complexion while Radha was so fair. His mother, Yashoda, playfully suggested that he should smear color on Radha's face and change her complexion to any color he wanted. He liked the idea and since then the play of colors on Holi became part of the festivities.

A symbol of victory of good over evil, beginning of summer, and end of cold and hardship, Holi is a celebration of the unyielding human spirit. Each year, the Holi event at Fremont Hindu Temple promises colors, music, dance, free lunch and lots of fun for all ages.

Holi Celebration
Sunday, Mar 15
11 a.m.
Fremont Hindu Temple
3676 Delaware Drive, Fremont
(510) 659-0655

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