Sunday, March 23, 2008

Holi Celebrations in Dallas

Holi revellers dancing to the drum beats

Holi the festival of colours was celebrated in Dallas today. The premises of the DFW Hindu Temple, Irving was a riot of colour as hundreds of Desis congregated at the venue. I would summarise the event as "Colour, chow, charm, carol* singing, riotous dancing, and loads and loads of laughter and fun".

Before I continue I would like to give a little background about the festival of colours. Holi is celebrated on Phalgun Purnima month of the Hindu calendar which is sometime around the Christian months of February end or early March. The origins of Holi can be traced back to antiquity and like all Hindu festivals it is a celebration of the victory of good over evil. It was created as an event to bridge social gap and renew sweet relationships.

Traditionally celebrations begin with the ceremonial lighting of bonfire on the Holi eve to signify incarceration of all bad desires of the human mind. Numerous legends & stories associated with the origin of Holi celebration. One of the legends is about the burning of "Kama" the god of love by Lord Shiva. Kama would have shot the cupid's arrow and made Shiva come out of penance and fall in love with Parvathi, princess of the Himalayan Kingdom. But Kama had already accomplished his purpose of making Lord Shiva fall in love and hence it is also a festival of love and colours. A festival to celebrate love and colours. This is also a festival to herald spring of the season of freshness and colour. People welcome this season by applying gulal on each other.

Coming back to the celebrations at Irving Hindu temple. There was loads of food of all cuizines from Brownies in our stall, pizza in another and nachos in yet another stall. Of course Indian foods including the ubiquitous idly, dosa, pani puri, pav bhaji, mango lassi etc were also being sold. The stall and food and time was our donation to the temple. All proceeds went to the temple trust. Music blared throughout the day reeling out Holi numbers from bollywood superhit movies. A few aspiring singers belted out bollywood numbers and youth and the young at heart present danced away to glory. I guess this is the only way one can feel close to their home land while having to make a living and livelihood in an alien land surrounded by alien cultures.

SEF Stall in the Holi celebrations, selling brownies. (from left) SEF volunteers Shanti, Padma Mariam, Uma Suresh and Prabha.

I was there as part of the volunteer contingent of Sankara Eye Foundation, a California-based non-profit organisation which is working towards eliminating curable blindness in India. Along with five other volunteers we put up a booth to sell sweet and crunchy home-baked brownies. Our stall was very popular among children and youngsters with a sweet tooth and we sold over 250 brownies and were clear by 3.00 pm.

*Carol means "festive song".

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