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Filtering by Tag: celebrate

Holi, The Festival of Colors

Sonali Perera

Holi, one of my favorite holidays growing up, is known as the festival of colors or the festival of love. Holi signifyies the victory of good vs. evil and the beginning of Spring. Everyone wears white and throws colored powder on each other. 

Today, you can get any just about any color holi you desire but there are four main colors that have cultural significance. Green symbolizes new beginnings, red symbolizes love and fertility, blue is associated with Lord Krishna and symbolizes power and life and yellow is associated with healing power. 

There are three different Hindu legends that commemorate the festival of Holi. All three legends are dark and sad which is surprising since Holi is such a joyous holiday. 

The first legend is about the evil King Hiranyakashipu who forbid his son Prahlad from worshipping Lord Vishnu. He forced Prahlad to sit in a fire with his wicked Aunt Holika. Lord Vishnu protected Prahlad in the fire while Holika was burnt to death. The burning of the evil Holika is celebrated as Holi. 

The second legend involves Lord Shiva an the hours he spent in deep meditation. One day, Madana, the God of Love tried to test his dedication to meditation and appeared in front of him as a beautiful nymph. Shiva became angry and shot fire out of his third eye making her into ashes.

The third Holi legend is about the love between Lord Krishna and Radha and Lord Krishna complaining to his mother about his dark skin while Radha's complexion was fair. His mother told him to apply color to Radha's skin to see how the color of her skin would change. 

Depressing legends aside, Holi is a super fun holiday filled with playful throwing of water and color on friends and family. It celebrates the beginning of Spring with beautiful color, laughter and joy!

Diwali, the Celebration of Goddess Lakshmi

Sonali Perera

I grew up celebrating Diwali as the festival of good over evil, the festival of King Rama defeating Ravana, the Demon King. Diwali is a celebration of King Rama's defeat but it is also a holiday that honors the Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi. 

Who is Goddess Lakshmi?

She is the goddess of prosperity, wealth, purity, generosity, and the embodiment of beauty, grace and charm. She is the wife of Lord Vishnu. Often times she is pictured as a beautiful woman standing in a lotus blossom with her four arms open and giving. She is worshipped to attain wealth, beauty and good luck. The lotus blossom stands for beauty, purity and fertility. Her four arms represent four spiritual virtues (Prosperity, Purity, Generosity, Energy). 

Goddess Lakshmi and Diwali

During Diwali, Hindus worship Goddess Lakshmi at home and pray for her blessings. It is believed that during Diwali, Goddess Lakshmi visits the homes and blesses the family and their business with with wealth and a successful year. People leave their windows and doors open so the Goddess can come in. Diyas (oil lamps) are lit so Lakshmi can find her way into your home.

The Goddess Lakshmi is the household goddess of most Hindu families, and a favorite of women. Although she is worshiped daily in most Hindu households, Diwali is Goddess Lakshmi's holiday.



    Navratri: Celebrating the Mother Goddess

    Sonali Perera


    Navratri is a nine day Hindu festival in mid October celebrating the victory of good over evil. During this festival, Goddess Durga, the mother Goddess, who symbolizes creative energy and the feminine body is worshipped in her three main forms - Saraswati, Parvati, and Lakshmi.

    Different regions in India have their own tradition in celebrating Navratri. I am Gujurati, and we celebrate Navratri doing Garbha (Indian folk dance) and Dandiya Raas (folk dance using sticks). During Garbha, women dressed in beautiful, colorful Lenghas, dance around a clay pot filled with water, a betel nut and a silver coin with a coconut placed on top of the pot. The clay pot symbolizes the womb, the source of life on earth. 

    The nine days of Navratri are filled with pujas, fasting, meditation, singing and dancing, honoring the Mother Goddess and what she stands for, in her three forms. On the first three days, Goddess Durga is worshipped to destroy impurities, vices and defects. On day 4-6, Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of spiritual wealth is worshipped. On the last 3 days, Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of wisdom is worshipped. We need blessings from all three aspects of the forms of the Mother Goddess be successful in life.


    Happy Diwali

    Sonali Perera

    What is Diwali?

    Diwali is the festival of lights and has great significance for Hindus, Sikhs, Jains and the Nepalese. Regardless of religion, Diwali is celebrated all over India as a national festival.

    There are many legends associated with Diwali but the most common legend is from the great Hindu epic, Ramayana. In this legend, Rama, the prince of Ayodhya was ordered by his father, Kind Dasharatha, to go away from his country and come back after living in the forest for fourteen years. Rama went into the forest with his wife, Sita and brother, Lakshmana. When the demon kind, Ravana, abducted Sita and took her to his island kingdom of Lanka, Rama fought and killed Ravana and rescued Sita and returned to Ayodhya after fourteen years. The people of Ayodhya were so happy to see their Prince Rama return, they lit up their houses with diyas (earthen lamps), lit fireworks and decorated their city. 

    Another favorite legend is that this is the day the Goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, rose from the ocean and married Lord Vishnu. Beautiful lamps were placed in rows to celebrate this occasion and to seek the Goddess Lakshmis blessing for the coming year.  

    Different ways to celebrate Diwali

    Light diyas (clay lights)

    Today Diwali is celebrated across the world as the "Festival of Light," where the lights or lamps signify victory of good over evil within every human beng. Clay lamps are lit to drive away the shadows of evil spirits.

    Rangoli on doorsteps

    Rangoli (meaning row of colors) is a kind of floor painting that is used as a sign of welcome. The main purpose of making rangoli during Diwali is to welcome the Goddess Laxshmi, the Goddess of Wealth, to our homes to cast away evil. 

    Go vegetarian

    For most Indians, Diwali is a meatless holiday and sweets play a big role during Diwali. Go out and buy dessert to serve on this day and either get yummy Indian vegetarian takeout or find a recipe and make some fun Indian dishes at home. 

    Play games

    Playing games and gambling are a big part of Diwali. You can make this more family friendly and play card games such as Rummy or Go Fish or other games such as Charades, Hide & Seek or a Scavenger Hunt.  

    The Thread of Love: Happy Rakhi

    Sonali Perera

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    Raksha Bandhan (Rakhi) celebrates the love between brothers and sisters. The main custom of Rakhi is a sister tying a threaded bracelet the giving of a bracelet of woven threads called a rakhi on her brother. The "rakhi" represents the sister's promise to pray for her brother and the brother's vow to protect his sister. The sister provides sweets to her brother and the brother gives his sister money.

    How can you celebrate Rakhi in a very easy, simple, meaningful way?

    • Invite family over. We love an excuse to wear Indian we always make it Indian themed.
    • Buy the rakhi or make sure someone is bringing the rakhi. You can buy it below or at your local Indian store. We love making our own is a fun project and tradition for the kids (instructions below)
    • Get Indian take out. Some of our favorite places for takeout are Pakhwan, Shalimar and Naan 'n Curry.
    • Get small gifts or money envelopes if you are a brother or if you have sons.
    • Get burfees, sweets or even candy to feed your brother.
    • Keep it simple and fun!

    What is the history of Raksha Bandhan?

    There are many stories and tales about the Rakhi in Hindu and Indian history. It became popular in the 1500s after a widowed queen name Rani Karnavati sent a Rakhi to the Mughal Emperor asking for help in defending her city. After this event, sisters would offer a Rakhi to their brothers as a reminder that they should protect their sisters from foreign invaders. 

    Fun Facts:

    • The word Raksha means protection. The brother promises to protect his sister.
    • The word Bandhan means "to tie" or "bond". The sister ties the rakhi around her brother's wrist.
    • It is thought that the protection offered by the rakhi lasts for one year. So the festival and ceremony must be repeated each year.

    The Importance of Celebrating a Holiday

    Sonali Perera

    Celebrating holidays are some of the core aspects of any culture. Whether it is a religious holiday, a wedding, or a festival our celebrations are woven tightly into our overall cultural identity. Being a first generation Indian, I grew up celebrating  these traditions. Now, as a mom raising 2nd generation kids, I hope to celebrate some of these same traditions and holidays I fondly remember along with the new holidays we celebrate from our American culture. 

    We hope you find this section helpful so when a traditional holiday approaches, you can start planning, involve the kids and create your own memories like the ones you remember from your childhood.