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Monday, March 28, 2016

FestiFULL of COLORS: Holi! (Guest Post by Ambika)

For thousands of years, Hindus have celebrated the festival of Holi all around the world. Traditionally, the festival is celebrated by throwing powdered colors at people, with festivities like singing and dancing. The dance associated with Holi is called Dandia Raas, and is played with a pair of sticks. Depending on which part of India the festival is celebrated, a bonfire is lit in the evening of Holi or the night before it. In many parts of India, people observe a fast by only eating puffed rice and popcorn for the day.
There are many explanations of why the festival exists, but the most famous is the ancient story of the prince Prahlad and his evil father King Hirnakasyapu. It was believed that the King was an Asura, a demon who is a cruel ruler. Being the power-hungry monster that he was, the King wanted everyone in his kingdom to worship him and praise him even more than God. Unfortunately for him, his own son Prahlad was an ardent devotee of the God Vishnu, the god who looked after the entire Universe. When the King asked his son who the most power man in the kingdom was, the song replied that it was he, his father, and king. But when he was asked who the strongest in the whole world was, Prahlad replied simply that it was the God Vishnu.
I'm wearing an Indian suit and the shoes are traditional Punjabi shoes (cotton)

Viewing this to be an undermining of his power, the King set his sights on destroying Prahlad afraid that his son's ideas would become a representation of his kingdom. He enlisted his sister, Holika, to help with this task. Holika had a special sari, a traditional Indian gown that allowed her to be within flames without being incinerated. The siblings convinced Prahlad that if he were to sit on the lap of his aunt while they were lit on fire, he would be safe and fireproof along with her. After all, it was directions by his loving aunt and father. When the bonfire had died down again, they found that Prahlad was saved by the grace of God and his extreme devotion. Holika had died paying for her sins. Therefore, the festival celebrates the victory of good over evil while simultaneously glorifying the importance of devotion.
The scarf is called a dupatta or chunni (depends on what part of India)
There are few other legends associated with the origins of Holi, but the moral of the story always depicts the triumph of good over evil within the end. The day is always considered peaceful as enemies and friends alike gather to play with colors in the name of Holi.

~AMBIKA


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