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Holi & Now Ruz - The Hindu Festival of Colors & The Persian New Year
March 31, 2002 5:16 PM   Subscribe

Holi. Now Ruz. The Hindu Festival of Colors. The Persian New Year. Easter and Passover are not the only religious holidays associated with the first full moon of spring. Both appeal to me—in Holi people go about splashing each other with colors, powder and paint, and in Now Ruz I see Halloween--Last Tuesday night in March before Ruz is Chahar-Shanbe-Soorey in Iran... Children wear masks, and go door to door to get candy. People jump over bon fires while wishing for good health--surely the greatest religious festival we celebrate. And, ancillary topic, polytheism fascinates me: so, let me get way way pre-medieval on your collective ass and drop some James Hillman on you via Marc Fonda (you may have to scroll down to III. Polytheism as an Alternate Paradigm for Psychology). Hillman, author of Dream And The Underworld and co-author of We've Had a Hundred Years of Psychotherapy And the World's Getting Worse, among others, is, of course, a name no stranger to these pages. Both Holi and Now Ruz seem to celebrate a victory of by a legendary king over demon sources, and both celebrate Spring. Both I know little about—so enlighten me, please. A belated happy Holi to all you real brahmins, Boston or otherwise, and a belatedly same happy Now Roz to all you Teherangelenos here on MetafFilter. And do play Virtual Holi.
posted by y2karl (11 comments total)

 
As if I wasn't overwhelmed enough already with sheauga's Science and the Sacred thread. Thanks for the great links y2karl (you too sheauga.)
posted by homunculus at 5:37 PM on March 31, 2002


Thanks for the revelations. I'd never heard of anything or anyone in the whole post. Amazing. The Festival of Colors link(first line, 4th from the left)is cute. James Hillman seems interesting, like Jung without the wacky. Though two(or three)separate posts would have been nice, y2karl. Unless you want us to grasp * cue Twilight zone tune *some hidden connection. Sir?

P.S. Why do people say Boston brahmins? They don't say that of any other cities. Why? Are they the original WASPs or do they include the academic priests as well? Oh, and are there real brahmins in Boston?
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:48 PM on March 31, 2002


holi haaiiiii, you are also supposed to get completely blasted on a marijuana/hashish drink called Bhang, and holi ends in a lovely sight, teenagers puking green shit. But it is great fun, highly recommended are the water ballons, and tall bldgs...

and I mean "supposed to" :)
posted by bittennails at 5:54 PM on March 31, 2002


::slowly backs away from Who put the bhang in Bangla Desh? crack::
posted by y2karl at 5:58 PM on March 31, 2002


festival of Holi 1998, Jaipur -- one of the most intense (and colorful) experiences i barely remember from my entire life. but i do know there are some amazing pictures of the aftermath. in fact, i think i STILL have some pink dye in my hair.

i had never heard of it either, but my friend and i were on a pair of Enfields, riding through Rajistan when i got a flat tire. after pushing the bike maybe 2 K to the nearest town, desperate to find someone who could help me with the tire, i was greeted by an older baba with a hennad beard smiling broadly, singing to me in Hindi and tossing thick clouds of pink and green powder all over me and the bike.

somehow i knew it was not aggressive behavior and i managed to laugh along, but it wasn't until the festival 3 days later in Jaipur that i was able to get anyone to explain to me what was going on.

i remember walking home (late) and seeing the streets and the stragglers equally streaked in bright colors. truly surreal.
posted by milkman at 6:35 PM on March 31, 2002


Miguel, since I'm not from the Boston area, the only place I ever ran across old-fashioned "brahmins" there was in a Unitarian congregation, (an unpredictable experience from week-to-week with Tibetan singing bowls, meditation and call to prayer with a shofar, readings from the transcendentalists, environmentalists, the Bible, etc.) Yes, we have "real" brahmins too, especially working in high tech. However, those of us who weren't born in India don't discuss caste. We stick to amusing anecdotes about arranged marriage, and asking our co-workers to tell the story again about going up on the roof as a kid to dump buckets of paint on people. Sometimes we put our neighbor's little red signs on the wall for Chinese New Year now that we can't go hear the Grateful Dead, or we throw the beans out the front door for Japanese New Year. Lutherans like holding a Seder at one of the churches and meeting people from the Jewish community, but don't do a Seder at home. One of our local Latino leaders gave a general invocation with sage to the four directions to open a community meeting (this was a town in California), and it passed by without comment. I thought that jumping over the fire, after burning the honey-smeared paper with your grudge written on it, was Wiccan-- a large Wiccan gathering cast a spell in a public park near me on behalf of Lady Liberty after the attacks. Although many Americans are involved in the evangelical movement, or traditional family religious observances, individual participation in a variety of religious and cultural traditions is becoming more common in urban areas-- a bit more like the Japanese way.

How do you celebrate spring in Portugal? Do you have a Maypole, or bless the fleet?
posted by sheauga at 7:03 PM on March 31, 2002


To answer your question Miguel: I come from a Brahmin family, and I've never heard of the Boston Brahmins.

Back to the topic, I really miss Holi in the US, I love playing Holi with my friends, and during the pre-Holi days throwing water baloons at people is just so much fun.
posted by riffola at 7:57 PM on March 31, 2002


Sheauga: we start hitting the beach! Riffola: Thanks! The expression generally refers to academically-connected old WASP families living in Boston, where "Brahmin" means "upper class" or the post-colonial aristocracy. This link isn't bad. Interesting you've never heard of it. Here's a quick link. I'd imagine you, as a Brahmin, would find it insulting or frivolous.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 8:13 PM on March 31, 2002


Miguel, Brahmin's are supposed to be the people with the knowledge, so Harvard educated people in Boston being referred to as Brahmins is fine by me. :)
posted by riffola at 9:57 PM on March 31, 2002


I've been blessed with pretty good health throughout my life. One of the many factors which, I believe, contributes to my health is the fact that I don't jump over bonfires.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:19 AM on April 1, 2002


Thank you y2karl, for this post.

When I was growing up my family followed a Guru who would hold yearly Holi Festivals. He used giant water canons filled with colored water (we usually met in a stadium so it was packed) and we all bought special white clothing just for the event.

It's one of my happiest childhood memories and I love finding out about the background for it.
posted by calyirose at 11:30 AM on April 1, 2002


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