13 March, 2017

Holi – The Indian Festival of Color in America

In India, there is a national holiday that marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring. This day is called Holi and it is observed in the lunar month called Phalguna and falls on different dates each year. In 2017, Holi will be held on March 13. Holi is a religious festival and it is celebrated by Hindus living in all states of India. However, since this holiday is very funny and bright, it is becoming popular outside of India as well, even for non-Hindus.

The celebration of Holi includes burning bonfires, holding parades, throwing colors at each other, eating Indian food, playing loud music and dancing. People celebrate it in the streets all over. For coloring each other, they use dry colored powders as well as colored water. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a friend, a family member, or just a stranger. If you’re there, you will be doused in colors!

Holi

If you learn the legends about Holi, you will understand that this celebration is not only about having fun. It has a deep meaning. According to one of the legends, the name Holi derives from the name Holika, who was the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu. This demon thought he was a god. He had a son named Prahlad, who refused to worship him and became a devotee of Lord Vishnu instead. Being mad at him, Hiranyakashipu ordered Holika to kill Prahlad. Holika had him sit in a fire with her. She thought that her power would make her immune to the fire and that it would burn only Prahlad. However, the contrary thing happened: she burnt, but Prahlad remained untouched. Therefore, burning bonfires symbolizes the victory of good over evil. There is a different legend in North India, where people believe that on the day of Holi Lord Krishna smeared his lover Radha with colors, thus starting their love story.

Nowadays, people in many countries all over the world celebrate Holi. It is especially popular in the societies, where a large Indian diaspora is living, such as the USA, the UK, Suriname, Russia, Trinidad and Tobago, etc. For instance, in the USA, where Indians constitute about 1.15% of the population, dozens of cities celebrate Holi by arranging a 5-kilometer Color Run.

The United States is a multi-national country and each culture that lives in the USA contributes to the economic, political and cultural spheres. It is very important to understand that this healthy process adds to the American cultural heritage. Therefore, everyone should respect each other’s culture, no matter how different it is.

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