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March 16, 2017

We're All Hindu Today Mr. President

The annual Hindu festival of Holi is held in India on this date to celebrate Spring and to commemorate the burning death of the child-eating, she-demon known as Holika. Ceremonial fires are lit and Saturnalian street processions take place; with the usual distinctions of caste, sex and rank suspended, the revelers cover each other in powders and colored water and licentious frivolity is tolerated.  The frolicking recalls Krishna's adventures with the cowgirls (gopīs). Images of the gods placed on special platforms are ritually swung during the festivities; this is the Dolayãtra.

For all its popularity, the festival has little to do with the principles of orthodox Hinduism, and it seems clear that its origins are more ancient, lying in the primitive celebrations of new life and the need to restore fertility to the earth.


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