Category Archives: Indian Festivals

Happy Holi!

It is Holi! Holi is one of the most important festivals in India (and much of Southern Asia). It is the celebration of spring. Everyone celebrates the festival of colors by throwing colored powder and colored water at each other.
Rookie tips: If you’ve never “played holi” before, you might want to be careful! Warning to the wise: don’t wear your favorite outfit outside! You will be covered – and these colors don’t wash out easily!* In fact, if you must venture out on Holi, and don’t want to get bombarded – it might be best to cover yourself with some colors before you go out. That way you won’t be as much of a walking target! Check out the video below (from the movie “Outsourced”) to see what happens if you are caught off guard!

*There is also a bit of a controversy on the actual colored powders which are used. Many of the commonly available powders have chemicals in them which can be dangerous to the eyes, skin, etc. Now there is a movement to use organic/natural colors which are much less toxic. I would recommend these colors if at all possible!

Happy Republic Day!

Tomorrow is India’s Republic Day, so why not celebrate in style! India obtained Independence from Britain on August 15th, 1947, however January 26th marks the day that the constitution of India came into effect (in 1950). Republic Day is celebrated all over India. In New Delhi, there is an annual flag raising ceremony and military parade. After the military parade, an extravagant cultural parade, with many different states and people groups represented.
If you’re feeling particularly patriotic, or if you want to impress your Indian spouse or significant other, play the video below to listen to (…and sing along with?) the Indian National Anthem, Jana-gana-mana. At one time I could sing the whole thing, my husband wasn’t aware that I knew the song, so you should have seen the surprised look on his face…
As a side note for anyone who is interested, until January 26, 2002, it was illegal for the general public to fly India’s flag (except on a few selected national holidays). I was living in India when the amendment to the flag code was passed, and I recalled people being excited to know that they could now fly the flag out of patriotism at any time in the year. A friend also told me how lucky I was as an American to have always had the right to be able to fly our flag with pride. Sometimes I guess it is easy to take even little things for granted that we’ve always been able to do…

DIY: Homemade Paper Christmas Star Lanterns

While I lived in India, I discovered that you can tell who is celebrating Christmas by the big, colorful star shaped paper lanterns that are hung outside homes and shops. While Christians only make up 2.3% of the total population, Christmas is becoming more and more widely celebrated.
These stars are really beautiful – they are available in every shape, color and size imaginable! I brought some home with me, however, I recently decided to try making my own. I thought I’d share with anyone who is interested how to make these beautiful lanterns and celebrate Christmas Indian style! Plus… it helps make my husband feel at home when we’re far from his home during the holidays! :-)
These stars can be made in all colors, shapes and sizes. Small ones work great for homemade Christmas tree ornaments, while large ones look great hanging from the ceiling or on your front porch! I’ll share a pattern and instructions for how to make your own 5-pointed star. If you want different sizes, just enlarge the pattern… (or you could even modify it to add more points to your star – get creative!)

You will need, glue, scissors, paper (your choice of colors, weight), string or ribbon, and a some sort of light to light up the lantern.
2. Cut out 2 identical stars from the pattern.
3. Fold the pattern along all the dotted lines & glue the flaps to the inside wall of the opposite side (leave one flap unglued until you insert your light).
4. While still folded, cut out openings in any design you like for the light to shine through. (similar to how you’d make an old fashioned paper snowflake)
5. Tie a string or ribbon to suspend your lantern.
6. Enjoy your handiwork & allow all your friends to “ooh” and “aah” over your creation!
P.S. You also sometimes see these lanterns (and similar ones) during the Diwali festival in India.

Happy Diwali!

Diwali is known as the “Festival of Light.” It is a five-day celebration, which is celebrated all across India. Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps.” During this time, homes are thoroughly cleaned and windows are opened to welcome Laksmi, goddess of wealth. Candles and lamps are lit as a greeting to Laksmi. Gifts are exchanged and festive meals are prepared during Diwali.

How do you celebrate Diwali? We like to go to Vancouver, Canada, where there is a large Indian population. We buy sweets from “Punjabi Street,” visit with friends and enjoy the festivities!

Gandhi Jayanti!

Being in an intercultural Indian marriage, I feel that it is important to share and celebrate holidays from both cultures. We’re among the lucky few – twice the holidays! Some of the most popular & well-known Indian festivals include Diwali and Holi. Another important day on the Indian calendar is Gandhi Jayanti, a national holiday celebrated in India to mark the birthday of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (also known as ‘Bapu’ or ‘Father of the nation’).

Gandhi was born on October 2, 1869, in Porbunder, Gujrat. Gandhi was the most instrumental figure in acquiring independence for India. He headed the National Movement for nearly three decades. October 2 is also celebrated as the International Day of Non-Violence in honor of Gandhi.

Gandhi Jayanti is marked each year by prayer services and tributes all over India, especially at Raj Ghat, Gandhi’s memorial in New Delhi where he was cremated. Celebration include prayers, commemorative ceremonies by colleges, local government institutions and other institutions Usually, Gandhi’s favorite devotional song, Raghupati Raghava Raja is sung in his memory.

Source: Wikipedia