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March 7, 2017 > Holi holiday brings fun festivities

Holi holiday brings fun festivities

By Toshali Goel

As winter fades away, people around the world rejoice and celebrate the emergence of spring. One event that takes place in this season is the Hindu festival of Holi. Holi is celebrated in remembrance of the ancient legend of Holika and Prahlad. As the story goes, there was once an egotistical king named Hiranyakashyap who desired to rule all of Earth. He was so narcissistic that he demanded his subjects worship only him, and no deity. His son Prahlad, much to the dismay of Hiranyakashyap, became a dedicated devotee to the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu.

Hiranyakashyap attempted several times to coax his son into worshipping him, but no attempt was successful in influencing the mind of the young Prahlad. Infuriated by his insolence, Hiranyakashyap ordered his servants to kill the boy. But each effort left Prahlad unscathed, due to Lord Vishnus protection of his worshippers. Finally, Hiranyakashyap turned to his sister Holika. Holika had been given a boon that would allow her to enter fire unharmed. She cunningly convinced Prahlad to sit on her lap and entered the fire. Miraculously, she burned to ashes, and Prahlad was saved: punishment for her bad deeds. Today, Holi is generally celebrated by coloring one another with multicolored powders, celebrating this victory of good over evil, and the power of true faith and devotion.

While initially based in religious traditions, the festival has evolved to become a popular holiday that invites all to participate and celebrate friendship. There are several organizations that host Holi events in the Bay Area, including Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar (BAYVP), Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA), and Festival of Globe (FOG). FOG Silicon Valley hosts a large Holi event at Newark Jr. High School, attracting over 20,000 Bay Area residents. The free festival is hosted in collaboration with Fremont Hindu Temple, and will be held on Sunday, March 12.

Festival spokesperson Ritu Maheshwari says, It will include families and friends covering their clothes and skin with vibrant colors, drinking and eating traditional fare, and dancing to music produced with an Indian drum, dhol. The colors are biodegradable and skin friendly in order to reduce pollution and skin irritation. Holi is a beautiful festival that integrates culture and allows people to rejoice with family and friends. It also celebrates the change in season, and good over evil, she added.

Dr. Romesh Japra, Founder and Convener of FOG, said, FOG Holi has over the years played an important role in keeping our culture alive and inculcating pious values in our youngsters. With a new and bigger location, Holi this year promises to be a much more enjoyable experience for the families and friends alike. I invite everyone to participate in this free festival with their friends and family.

BAYVP will be hosting their widely popular annual Holi event on Saturday, March 18. Ambrish Damani, Director of Volunteering services at BAYVP, says, The way we start the proceedings is we have bhajans and kirtans [devotional songs and hymns] for our lord. After that, we have all the youths and elders participate in this festival by sprinkling colors on each other and dancing to the beats of the DJ. WeÕve got food stalls, and thandai [cold milk-based drink]. WeÕve been doing this in our temple for the last nine years, and IÕve been leading this event, coincidentally, for all these nine years. The main gist of it is that people forget all their past differences and they come together and start afresh on that day.

Bhavin Shah, Director of Marketing for BAYVP, says, [The applying of color] signifies that we are all one. It doesnÕt matter what your skin color. The moment you have all these colors on your face and body, we all look the same, and thatÕs the whole idea. We are all one Ð forget what caste, what tribe, what background you are from, rich, poor, small, young Ð it doesnÕt matter. WeÕre all one. Were all human beings.

FOG Holi
Sunday, Mar 12
11:00 a.m. Ð 7:00 p.m.
Newark Jr. High School
6201 Lafayette Ave, Newark
(510) 304-5619

Saturday, Mar 18
11:00 a.m. Ð 3:00 p.m.
Cardoza Park
Kennedy Dr, Milpitas
(408) 359-7262
Tickets: $19 adults, $16 kids (ages 5-12), $17 member adults, $14 member kids (ages 5-12), under 5 free

Saturday, Mar 18
11:30 a.m. Ð 2:30 p.m.
Shreemaya Krishnadham
25 Corning Ave, Milpitas
(412) 983-2280

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