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March 11, 2014 > Holi Fest spreads color and harmony

Holi Fest spreads color and harmony

By M. J. Laird

Holi, a festival of colors, celebrates the change in season when the earth moves from winter into spring, a time when nature becomes colorful. Children and adults alike gather to enjoy food, dancing, and music. An anticipated tradition occurs when people joyfully and playfully spread colorful dry powder on each other. The tradition represents acceptance and harmony, acknowledging that everyone is part of the human family.

Brought from India where it is widely practiced, Holi is rooted in a religious tradition, but has developed as a cultural and social event. Falling this year on March 17, Tri-City and South Bay organizations will begin celebrations on March 16.

At the Fremont Hindu Temple, Holi will be celebrated in the parking lot. According to Taruna Chhabra of the temple, thousands of people have attended in previous years; color packets are available for a donation. The event is open to the public and a free lunch will be served.

ÒHoli has much social significance as it helps bring people together since the festival is celebrated by Hindus and non-Hindus alike,Ó explains Chhabra. ÒThose who enjoy playing with colors participate in the festival in the spirit of fun and joy. In the evening, families and groups often visit friends and relatives to exchange small gifts, sweets and greetings. This helps revitalize relationships and strengthen emotional bonds between people.Ó

According to Chhabra, there are a number of legends associated with Holi. One story features demon king Hiranyakashyap, who demands that everyone in his kingdom worship him. All do, except his pious son Prahlad who became a devotee of Lord Vishnu; Hiranyakashyap ordered his son killed. He enlisted his sister Holika, blessed with immunity to fire, to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad. In the story, Prahlad is saved and his evil-minded aunt Holika is burned to ashes. Bonfire lighting on HoliÕs festival eve celebrates a victory of good over evil and the triumph of commitment to a devoteeÕs deity.

Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar (BAYVP) celebrates Holi with three events. Starting March 16, a sacred bonfire in the temple parking lot is expected to attract more than 2,000 people. Participants will walk by the fire to sprinkle pujapo, a combination of popcorn, dates, rice, coconut and a red powder Òkumkum.Ó A cup of water is also poured around the fire. Attendees may bring pujapo or purchase it for $5. Food will be served in the dining hall for $6, an ÒAarti,Ó sung in praise of Lord Shrinathji and Yamuna Maharani, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in the temple.

Mruduta Mervana of BAYVP notes the bonfire offers an opportunity to burn away ill will and evil thoughts; to move forward into a colorful new year. She describes the colors as part of Holi because Lord Krishna complained to his mother, Yashoda, that his skin was dark while his love, Radha, was fair. Yashoda suggested he put color on Radha so she would look like him. Known for playing pranks, Krishna did as his mother asked, throwing color on Radha. This started a tradition of putting color on others during Holi.

Playing of the colors will happen on March 22, also in the temple parking lot. Referred to as ÒDhuletiÓ by Mervana, the playing of colors traditionally occurs the day after Holi. Around the world, she says, the event is celebrated on a weekend to allow more people to attend. Drums will enhance the festivities; food will be available for purchase. ÒThis is a day when people forgive and forget. People let go of anything that has gone sour,Ó she explains, Òand fill their lives with love and harmony.Ó The free event is open to the public; color packets will be available for a donation.

At the Milpitas Sports Center on March 29, BAYVP will host a Holi Garba with live music and food, and attendees can join in folk dancing.

Rajasthan Association of North America will host a Holi event on March 22 at the Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. More than 800 people attended the event last year and about 1,000 are expected this year. The event will feature music, lunch, and the spreading of the colors.

ÒHoli is a festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil, the end of the cold and the beginning of summer, and the unyielding human spirit,Ó explains Deepak Sisodia, president of the committee that creates the event. He says, ÒThis is a good time to forget everything, and celebrate together. This is a time when life becomes more comfortable. ThereÕs a relaxation of the mind. ItÕs a time not to differentiate, but to celebrate in the spirit of brotherhood.Ó

Holi Celebration
Sunday, Mar 16
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Fremont Hindu Temple
3676 Delaware Dr., Fremont
(510) 659-0655

Holi Sacred Fire
Sunday, Mar 16
5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar
25 Corning Ave., Milpitas
(408) 586-0006

Dhuleti - Playing of the Colors
Saturday, Mar 22
11:30 a.m.
Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar
25 Corning Avenue, Milpitas
(408) 586-0006

Holi Garba Night
Friday, Mar 28
7:30 p.m.
India Community Center
525 Los Coches St., Milpitas
(408) 934-1130
Tickets: $15

Holi Garba
Saturday, Mar 29
7:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Milpitas Sports Center
1325 E Calaveras Blvd., Milpitas
(408) 586-0006
Tickets: In advance $10 adults, $7 children; day of event $15 adults, $10 children, ages 5 and under free

Holi Fest
Saturday, Mar 22
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Baylands Park
999 E. Caribbean Dr., Sunnyvale
(408) 359-7262
Cost: Members $10, nonmembers $15

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