What the Heck is Holi?

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You ask any Americans. Ninety-five percent never heard of Holi, the Festival of Colors.

Just like the same way most of them never heard of Diwali, or Dusserah, or Dol Utsav.

Today is Holi, a fascinating, all-inclusive festival of love. The secular version of Holi, or the more religious version of Dol Utsav, or Vasant Purnima, is an auspicious day of confluence with the first full moon of Spring. In India, this is one of the best times of the year. You hear new birds chirping. You see new flowers blooming. You can feel love in the air.

In fact, an entire genre of Indian classical and devotional and folk music has arisen and blossomed around the occasion of this fun, festive time of the year. It is really as pious as much as it is amorous. It is as much folk as it is fable.

And across the Indian subcontinent, regardless of their race or religion, men, women and children play all day long with pigments of all shades and imaginations. They celebrate life. They celebrate a new beginning.

Dol Utsav, or Holi, is perhaps the most race- and caste-neutral festival in India. Even though it has deep roots in an ecumenical version of Hinduism, also known as Vaishnavism, a caste-rejecting, enlightened, inclusive variety of faith promoted by Sri Chaitanya the Krishna reincarnate (1486-1534), it has now become truly an all-encompassing festival, observed by Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Jains, and everybody else. This has become so all-inclusive that nobody even questions what faith or caste you are. You are automatically included in the celebration.

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Krishna, the Lord of Holi, has a Muslim mother. If this is not beautiful, what is?

You show up, and you are in.

If you want to talk about true diversity, look no more. In Holi, you can find the ultimate union of faiths, freedom, and life forms.

But nowhere in the U.S. media, we see any mention, let alone praise of this beautiful “Festival of Color.” Non-Judeo-Christian identities do not exist in this so-called land of diversity. American media and politicians couldn’t care less. In fact, most have nothing but scorn. It is a deep, deep malady Western civilization has been carrying with it.

Nobody even questions. That’s how serious the illness of misinformation is.

I have followed the American media, with its New York Times, CNN, ABC, PBS and NPR. I have yet to see any substantive reporting even on the religion- and faith-oriented news media. I have never seen a single report on Holi or Diwali on the front page of Time, Newsweek, or the New Yorker.

Hypocrisy in the name of diversity has taken over this country, aka America the Land of Immigrants. A gross undermining and exclusion is going on, for generations. We are hit by it. We are hurt by it.

If India can embrace an American Valentine’s Day, in this day of so-called globalization, why can’t American embrace an Indian Day of Holi?

Or, is it that globalization is only a one-way street?

Asking year after year, but who does really care??

Sincerely,

Partha Banerjee

Brooklyn, New York

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5 thoughts on “What the Heck is Holi?

  1. I agree with you, that is why I think you should start your own youtube channel. To enlighten us! Bernie, is proving that the so called mainstream media is no longer relevant. People are already starting to turn to alternative news sources, and I think that as this continues to happen, it will provide a niche for all kinds of wonderful and informative sources of news to florish!

  2. Dear Partha: Enjoyed your take on Holi very much. It is indeed the most universal of all religious festivals in India crossing the boundaries of race, religion and caste. However, I will add a bit of analysis/critique to this mix. Vaishnavism was truly a caste, religion and gender-neutral faith. But caste-conscious Hindu conservatives maligned it and dubbed the practitioners of this faith as’Nerrha-Nerrhi’, purveyors of free-mixing and sex.
    Globalization was meant to be a one-way street – only to benefit this country and Judeo-Christian belief in the proverbial land of all faiths!

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