Religion 101

Today (as I write, Wednesday, March 27, 2013), Hindus worldwide are observing the spring religious festival known as Holi, or the “festival of colors.”

Holi always begins on the final full moon of the lunar month of Phalguna on the Hindu calendar. However, that fixed starting date on the Hindu religious calendar does not always coincide with March 27 on the secular Western (Gregorian) calendar. Last year, for instance, Holi fell on March 8, 2012. Next year, by contrast, Holi will fall on  March 17, 2014.

Regardless of when it falls in relation to the Western calendar, Holi is a joyous celebration of the end of winter and the start of spring, as well as a commemoration of several different traditional Hindu tales involving divine goodness triumphing in various ways over demonic evils.

During Holi, ordinary social restraints are somewhat loosened, while boisterous fun and merriment become the order of the day. Recalling the newly emerging colors of the spring season, colored water is squirted and colored powder flung upon strangers passing in the street. Friends and families may paint themselves and each other with colorful paints. Bonfires burn, music plays, and revelers embrace, exchange sweets, and dance.

I’d like to take this opportunity to wish my Hindu readers around the globe a very “Happy Holi!”