Friday, March 6, 2015

Interfaith Days: Holi, Hola Mohalla

Today is Holi, the Hindu spring festival Holi focusing on love, playing, and colors. It happens on the full moon before the vernal equinox and celebrates the approach of spring and the victory of good. (In the stories, the righteous Prahlada, son of the evil king Hiranyakashipu, remained devoted to Vishnu in spite of punishments from his father and evil aunt Holika, and Vishnu rewarded him. The Holi bonfire symbolizes the fire that killed Holika.) Beginning with bonfires and dancing, participants chase one another with colored powder and colored water, and throw colors on one another. Food, drink, treats, music, visiting, and dancing are aspects of the festival. See this site and also this site.

Today is also Hola Mohalla, the Sikh festival on the first day of the lunar month of Chett. The week-long festival includes food, music, poetry, camping out, and mock battles. Although the festival happens at nearly the same time as Holi, the name has a different derivation and connotes a military charge (halla). The tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, established the festival during the time when Sikhs were under attack. See this site for more information.

(From the 2015 Interfaith Calendar of the Diversity Awareness Partnership of St. Louis---see for more information---and various online sources.)

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