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Every year in September, Shivajinagar is thronged by people who visit the infamous St. Mary's Basilica. Built during the advent of Catholicism in the Kingdom of Mysore, this church is possibly the largest and most frequented in Bangalore. The birthday of St. Mary is celebrated in the Basilica on September 8.
Between August 28 and September, evening mass is held in the Basilica and a flag is unfurled which remains hoisted for the span of ten days. People are often spotted wearing pale pink clothes, called kaavi in southern languages. This is done in observance of a certain vow taken by the devotees. On the last day, the day of the feast, a grand chariot procession takes place, where the statue of Mary is placed on a pedestal. In other churches, the central statue's clothes are changed every day during this period.
People thronging at a chariot procession during St. Mary's Feast Image source: wikimedia commons
St. Mary's Basilica originally catered to the Tamil population that inhabited the Blackpally area in Bangalore and conducts most of its services in Tamil. Kannada and English services were introduced much later. Originally built as a chapel, it was converted into a large, gothic structure in 1874. It has a vaulted ceiling and Corinthian pillars, stained glass windows, and beautiful paintings. A white replica of Michelangelo's Pieta stands at the entrance of the church, similar to the one in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican, Rome.
Owing to the pandemic, in the last two years, the celebration of the feast has been held online, and the procession was not held in the city.
Keywords: Mary's feast, Basilica, September, Bangalore
Holi is among the biggest and most popular festivals, with the whole country enjoying the delights of color. There are indeed several facts and stories that revolve around the fascinating Holi myths. The most significant aspects of Holi celebrations include gatherings, gujiyas, and thandai (a drink made with milk, pistachios, almonds, sugar, and other ingredients.) When it comes to Thandai, the bhang is stated explicitly. It is yet another part of Holi that appeals to adults.
Bhang is a paste made from the dried, crushed, and soaked buds, leaves, and flowers of the female Cannabis plant, which is then mixed into food and beverages. In India, it’s been added to food and beverages for millennia and is a component of Hindu religious rites, customs, and celebrations such as the famous spring festival of Holi.
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Well, Bhang, like Holi, has a backstory too. It had first been used as an intoxicating substance in around 1000 BC, and it quickly became a significant part of Hindu culture. Bhang arrangements were held holy by Gods, specifically Lord Shiva because he is said to have explored the mixture’s ineffable effects. Bhang, which is synonymous with Lord Shiva, has been so intertwined with Holi that it has been designated as an appropriate Holi beverage. Devotees also consume drinks blended with bhang as a blessing from Lord Shiva.
However, one of the lesser-known legends claims that bhang is served on Holi to commemorate Lord Shiva’s comeback from Vairagya to Grihastha from family life to detachment. This is how the plot evolves. Goddess Parvati sought Kama Deva’s assistance in distracting Lord Shiva, who was deep in contemplation at the time. As a result, Kama Deva shot a floral arrow at Lord Shiva to deter him from practicing meditation any longer.
Bhang is said to be described in the Atharva Veda as a medicinal herb that relieves stress and makes people feel good and happy. Thus, to make the Holi festivities more enjoyable, people add a little bit of bhang to the thandai.
ALSO READ: Celebrate Holi In The Land Of Krishna
Bhang, as ancient as it is, has become an inextricable part of the Indian culture. As it often has evolved to reflect a number of things. They may be pure religious beliefs. However, if one recognizes Indians’ innate sensitive and compassionate nature, one might easily sense the deep relationship that individuals have with bhang.
While bhang has spiritual significance and is stated in Ayurveda, excessive consumption can be harmful to the nervous system. Bhang should not be consumed by children, women who are pregnant, or someone with a medical condition. Bhang should be consumed in moderation.
By- Khushi Bisht
Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, is one of India’s most important festivals, during which the entire country rejoices in the joys of color. People of different backgrounds, races, and castes come together to celebrate this day, which marks the start of the spring. The celebration of colors is a much-adored festival across this tremendous country, and it makes for beautiful images that speak of love and harmony.
It is indeed a festival in which people unite and connect with one another, ignoring their differences and uniting as one. It’s the phase of the year when people add color and happiness to everyone’s lives. This festival of colors is a way for everyone to celebrate their joy and laughter with others.
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Holi’s origins celebrate the victory of light over darkness, which is the central theme of most Indian festivities. Happy and bright pictures of people smearing colors on each other, signifying the victory of light over darkness and the traditional start of the harvesting period, portray an environment of joy, excitement, and optimism that is uncharacteristic of a country where traditions are usually marked by discipline and manners.
Holi in Mathura & Vrindavan
However, the situation on the ground can be very different from all of the above. Different groups of people celebrate it in different ways. In the Braj region of Uttar Pradesh, Holi is praised as the celebration of love and affection which introduces spring. It honors the affection Krishna had for Radha. According to mythology, the whole special relationship between them was known as Raas-Leela, in which Krishna played with Gopis in the form of divine dance by putting colors on Radha. Because Radha Rani was born in Barsana and Lord Krishna was raised in Nandgaon, the two towns are related. As a result, with the exception of Mathura and Vrindavan, these places celebrate Holi on a grand scale.
The idea of celebrating Holi in Mathura and Vrindavan has always piqued people’s interest. There, Holi is more than just a single day of celebration; it begins months in advance. Lord Krishna, the Hindu God most connected with the Holi celebration, is inseparable from the Braj region of India. For adherents, celebrating Holi there is truly a once-in-a-lifetime event. Krishna and Radha’s love story started in the Mathura suburbs and developed from there.
Mathura is considered to be his homeland, and local temples organize some of the nation’s main and perhaps most impressive festivals, drawing tens of thousands of people from across the world. The Dwarkadheesh Temple, where a swarm of admirers gathers on Holi morning to enjoy, dance, and sing in a haze of vivid colors, is a perfect example.
Now, let’s go through the big Holi events in Mathura, Vrindavan, and the nearby areas that you should attend:
Laddoo Holi- It is celebrated in Barsana village, Radha Rani’s birthplace, where it is traditionally performed primarily on the grounds of the Radha Rani Temple. Throughout the celebration, a large number of laddoos are hurled at one another. The shrine priest, in keeping with the theme, throws laddoos at the people just for joy. Laddu Holi takes place a day before the world-famous Lathmar Holi, which also takes place in Barsana.
Lathmar Holi- The Lathmar Holi is celebrated in full flow. This amazing event draws tourists from all over the world. The celebratory, cheerful tone of the setting is set by the playful atmosphere surrounding the coloring of women and then the use of lathis on men by women.
As indicated by folklore, Radha used to remain in Barsana village, where Lord Krishna would come to bother and communicate with Radha and her Gopika companions. And in retaliation, he used to get chased by women of her village. This custom is still practiced today.
Phoolon wali holi- Colorful flower petals, in addition to traditional colors, are used to mark the celebration and bring happiness, which takes place in Vrindavan. People are ecstatic as they are showered with colorful flowers. It’s a big Holi celebration with everyone scattering flowers at each other.
Widow’s Holi- The widows were devoid of any social norms of happiness, having led a life of isolation and hardship. This Holi, on the other hand, is dedicated to those who are often ignored due to their circumstances. A special celebration has been arranged for widows in Mathura. They gather and paint each other during widow’s holi. This is a notable occurrence because those who have experienced tremendous loss deserve some peace and pleasure in their lives.
Huranga Holi- Another famous celebration that takes place in Mathura’s Baldeo region is this Huranga Holi. It takes place at Dauji Temple. The concept is inspired by Rasleela Radha and Krishna from when they were younger and used to play Holi. This is a fascinating mythological tradition that is still followed today.
Rang Panchami- The Holi festival comes to an end with this gathering. It is celebrated in the temple of Braj Mandal in a spectacular way.
Holi is a joyous festival in which people literally play with colors. They forget about the problems of everyday life and revel in the festive spirit. Colors, delicious food, traditions and rituals, and unrestrained fun abound at Braj ki Holi. The perfect places in India to celebrate and experience Holi are definitely Mathura and Vrindavan. However, bear in mind that we can make the celebration more environment-friendly by using organic colors and not wasting water.
Written By- Khushi Bisht
BY NEHA HEGDE
The Punjabi harvest festival is called Lohri and arrives just a night before Makara Sankranti, a festival that marks the end of winter. Lohri is mostly celebrated by the Hindus and Sikhs to honor the harvested crops in winter. The harvest festival is referred to different names in different states of India, Pongal in Tamilnadu, Makara Sankranthi in Gujurat, Bengal, and Karnataka, Bihu in Assam, and Tai Pongal in Kerala.
Farmers in Punjab consider Lohri as their New Year in the terms of finance. A bonfire is lighted-up on the night of Lohri and people enjoy singing, dancing, and offering leftovers.
Lohri celebrates the winter rabi crops which are sown in winters such as Sarson (mustard leaves), sesame, whole wheat, and spinach are an integral part of the festival. It is their tradition to serve sinner after the celebration is done around the bonfire.
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The winter harvests such as popcorns, peanuts, jaggery, Rewari, and gajak are distributed to all neighbors, friends, and relatives. Girls of the families dress up traditionally and perform Gidha.
“Til” means sesame and “Rohri” means jaggery and these are the traditional food of this festival. Lohri got its original name which is “Tilohri” by these two words.
During the bonfire, families dance and enjoy famous tunes of this festival like “Sundariye Mundariye Ho.” “Dholis” present at several gatherings is another sight rendering traditional Punjabi touch to the celebrations as people enjoyed ‘Bhangra’ dancing.
Want to read more in Hindi? Checkout: राम मंदिर आंदोलन पर डॉक्युमेंट्री रिलीज
Lohri is also believed to be the longest night of the year in the Lunar Calendar. It implies the end of the coldest month of the year and indicates the arrival of the Sun as Earth now starts to turn towards the Sun. The Sun god is also worshipped during Lohri.
In the context of folklores, the flames of the fire during the bonfire are known to carry messages to the Sun which is why the day after Lohri is warm and sunny bringing an end to “gloomy” winter days. The following day is celebrated as ‘Makara Sankranti’ to mark the beginning of bright days ahead.
Foods like gajak and puffed rice and items like popcorn are thrown into the bonfire to indicate Agni- The God of Fire. It is said that these offerings are thrown in the sparkling flames to effectively impress the gods and thus seek blessings for their family and a good future.