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Why We LOVE Diwali and Other Tidbits

Why We LOVE Diwali and Other Tidbits

President Obama had Indian supporters on their feet when he wished Saal Mubarak and became the first US president to publicly light the Diya in celebration of Diwali in 2009. Prior to Obama, there was a hilarious episode of The Office titled “Diwali”, written by Indian cast-member Mindy Kaling, that received critical reception. It was a meaningful moment for Indian culture as it was the first time an American comedy series depicted Diwali. As Diwali approaches, we’d like to have our say on why we think people appreciate this beautiful pluralistic Holiday. 

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How to Snack Like an Indian

Indian snacks are amazing. Whether you’re savoring a crispy samosa or moist gulab jamun, it’s hard to go wrong with Indian snacks.  Snacking is a huge part of Indian culture, but it can be confusing where to start. By the end of this article, you’ll know how to snack like an Indian.

 

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Ramadan, Delayed Gratification, and Stoicism

Ramadan, Delayed Gratification, and Stoicism

“Until we have begun to go without them, we fail to realize how unnecessary many things are. We've been using them not because we needed them but because we had them.” ― Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Ramadan is here. Faithful Muslims around the globe prepare for a month-long trek where from sunrise to sunset they refrain from food, drink, sex, smoking, and even anger. The anticipation begins to grow stronger as the first-day approaches.

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Turmeric (Haldi): A Reawakened Relic of Ayurvedic Traditions

When I was younger I sprained my ankle playing basketball. Ankle sprains are common in basketball, but that doesn't mean they won’t have you yelling for mommy. My parents were ready with a treatment on hand, Haldi (Turmeric). They claimed it was a herbal medicine that would "absorb the pain". I was immediately skeptical -- but my parents insisted I try it. I followed the R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate) protocol but added an extra step where I rubbed Turmeric all over my ankle before wrapping it. They failed to mention the vibrant stain it leaves behind. I still remember the puzzled look on my friends faces when I showed up to school limping on a bright yellow ankle. Recently, I sprained my knee. After limping for days, I gave into the same treatment, a Turmeric wrap. I felt great the next day, it was as if the pain was sucked away. Now, I know what you're thinking (and I'm with you), it's most likely a coincidence. But it made me curious, how did this plant develop its massive reputation?

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A Mainstream Holi

A Mainstream Holi

In the age of social media, where continuous sharing and connectedness are normal parts of everyday life, it’s no surprise that Holi, a colorful holiday that preaches inclusion, revitalization, and oneness, has risen in popularity. A search for #holi2012 on Instagram populates around 251 results, while a search for #holi2015 returns over 20,000!


 

(Google Trends show a similar spike when searching for Holi)

A tradition that began thousands of years ago in Northern India has spread to the world. Holi is celebrated in conjunction with the full moon of Phalguna, and usually falls during February and March. A time when many are coming to grasps with the notion that winter is not everlasting. Spring is seen in cultures throughout the world as a time of revitalization, Holi brings this idea to a physical plane with a larger than life celebration more commonly known as the Festival of Colors

Holi in America is different from Holi in India. The celebrations in America usually last a day and are contained within a single event while Holi in India is a multi-day celebration that begins with the Holika Fire. Holika was a treacherous demon in Hindu Vedic scriptures who was burnt to death with the help of God Vishnu. Holi derives its name from Holika and celebrates the victory of good over evil. People fill the streets of India and squirt one another with colored water, water balloons, and paint each other’s faces. Their differences are suspended as the feeling of oneness propagates throughout the land. Every corner of India is reverberating with the shouts: “Bura na mano Holi hai!” (Don’t get offended, it's Holi!)

Image courtesy: Dogo News

The throwing of colored powder into the air is what comes to mind when most people think of Holi. As the legend goes, the eclectic Lord Krishna griped to his mother about how a woman, Radha, had a fair complexion while his was dark. She suggested he throw color on Radha’s face and remove the difference between them. This is why people play with color and water during Holi, the splashes of color symbolize the breakdown of barriers of color, creed, and religion.

(Courtest of http://www.tyoharokakhazana.com/)

Holi celebrations have transformed into must attend cultural events. The Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah (approximately 50 miles South of Salt Lake City) recently held a 70,000 person multi-day Holi Festival where non Hindu attendees outnumbered Hindus 2 to 1. College campuses have also played a big part of Holi coming to the mainstream. During Holi, students at many campuses can be seen participating in Holi-inspired color throws.

 

The Soul of India is on full display during Holi. A vibrant energy which Indians believe represents their culture is felt in the air. The inclusive nature of the celebrations is on full display when crowds of strangers wearing all white t-shirts throw fistfuls of organic powder into the air and each other. At a time when the media portrays a divisive world, Holi serves a reminder that inclusion is the norm. The celebration of Holy by non-Hindus is the ultimate affirmation that some traditions are timeless.

 


Image courtesy: Web Neel

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