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Filtering by Tag: hinduism

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!

Meditating with Mala Beads

Sonali Perera

Growing up, my mom meditated with a mala every night before bedtime. Many times, me and my sister would sit with my mom and repeat mantras with our own mala. A couple weeks ago, my mom gave me the same mala I used to meditate with when I was younger. It was the Mala my Nani (Grandma) gave to me 30+ years ago! My kids started asking me about the Mala, so I sat down with my mom to learn more.

What are Mala Beads

  • Mala beads are a string of 108 beads (+ 1 Guru bead) used in prayer and meditation and as a reminder of our intentions
  • Malas are made from different gemstones, rocks or seeds. 
  • Buddhist and Hindu malas are usually made from different types of wood or seeds such as sandalwood, rosewood or rudraksha (one I am most used to). Rudraksha seeds are believed to embody peace and love and is considered a very holy and protective seed. 


  • Find a quiet and comfortable spot, close your eyes, take a deep breath and realign with your intention. 
  • I like to use a mantra during my meditation but this is optional. You can chant your mantra loudly or silently. Here are some of my favorite mantras. You can also repeat a word such as Om, love or something you are thankful for. Repeating this will help you with your concentration.
  • Hold your mala over the third finger in your right hand and turn each bead towards you using your thumb.
  • Your index finger (pointing finger) should not touch the mala beads. In Hindu tradition, the pointing finger is the accusing finger and is believed to represent ego.
  • When you reach the guru bead (bead that hangs from the mala), wait and reflect. Do not continue over the guru bead. Turn your mala around and continue in the opposite direction. 
  • Continue this practice for as long as you want to.

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.



    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.  

    Happy Birthday Lord Krishna

    Sonali Perera

    Janmashtami is the birthday of Lord Krishna. On this day, it is believed that Lord Vishnu reincarnated in the form of Lord Krishna at midnight on the eight day of the Hindu lunar month, Shravana (usually in August).

    The main significance of Janmashtami is to encourage goodwill and to discourage bad will. Krishna Jayanti also celebrates togetherness. The holy occasion brings people together, thus it signifies unity and faith.

    How to celebrate Janmashtami

    • Teach Hindu mantras to your children to make them aware of Hindu traditions and values. Find mantras to recite
    • Go in the nearest temple with your family, perform puja and eat Prasad.
    • Read your children a story of Krishna's birth. Some of our favorites here