One thing that most religions have in common is the celebration of holidays, festivals and other celebrations. While almost all religions participate in various festivities the history behind and the ways in which people participate differ. In Hinduism a festival that the Hindu have is The Holi and Buddhist have the Vesak.
One of the hundreds of festivals celebrated by the Hundi is Holi, also known as the ‘festival of colors’, a festival celebrated primarily in India marking the coming of spring by the Hindu people. The festival is celebrated on the full moon day that falls in the month of Phalguna, which is February or March (Crooke). The Holi festival celebrates fertility, love and the triumph of good over evil. The Holi is one of the many festivals that celebrates the theme of good prevailing amongst evil in the Hindu religion. While the celebration begins the day after the full moon, in some places festivities commence a week earlier. At the beginning of the festival a chir pine begins to be decorated with colored cloths and offerings are brought to the base of the pine throughout the days of the festival (Vickery). The offerings brought by the people include rice and vermillion powder. Vermillion powder is used throughout the duration of the festival in various ways. On the day of the festival a procession is met and the joyous celebration is paraded through the streets. There are musicians dressed in white playing in bands that mostly consist of wind instruments. The most fun and inclusive part of the celebration gives the festival its alternate name,
‘The Festival of Colors’. Vermillion powder, made from an abundant mineral is thrown into crowds and participants use it to smear across the faces of others. Participants, especially young children, spend the day throwing water and vermillion powder at each other. The water that was thrown was thrown in colored balloons, from pots or squirted from plastic containers and toys, like water guns. (Vickery). Tourists are often targeted by participants with colored powders and water. While the festival is still greatly celebrated in India and in the Hindu religion, it has been greatly secularized. Many people unintentionally appropriate the Hindu tradition by attending Holi events not knowing what they are celebrating. While the Holi is an inclusive, playful celebration it is one of substance and has a history in the Hindu culture. Many events have taken Hindu culture and westernized It, such as the color run which is often just used as a photo opt. As the Holi becomes more westernized, the Hindu hope that their beloved tradition will continue and be celebrated in the correct manner.
The Vesak is a festival that celebrates the birth, enlightenment and the passing of Buddha in the month of May. The festival is celebrated the night of the full moon of Vaisakha (the Hindu month of May). Just as the many other Buddhist festivals, Vesak is a time for joy and gives Buddhist the opportunity to learn more about the Buddhas teachings and gather as a community. As a part of the formal observance of Vesak a procession is led by monks, including offering giving and the chanting of sutras which is Buddhist scripture (Irons). Buddhist families bring candles, food and flowers too various monks in the monasteries. One way that the Buddha is recognized during the celebration is with an image of the Buddha gesturing toward the Truth, often displayed in shrine rooms. This image of the Prince is used in the Buddhist ceremony practiced during Vesak called “Bathing the Buddha”. The statue of the young prince is bathed by pouring scented blessed water over the infant prince. This tradition goes back to one the reason that Buddhist celebrate the Vesak, the birth of the Buddha. The positioning of the image of the young Buddha comes from the story of his birth. The figure of the Buddha pointing upward with his right hand and downward with his left, encapsulating the enlightenment of Buddha. As Buddhism begins to be recognized on more global scale, Vesak has become a way for Buddhist and non-Buddhist neighbors to converse. Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia and India all recognize Vesak as an official holiday (Irons). The Festival has been observed by the UN since 1999 and will continue to be celebrated in the Buddhist religion.
There are hundreds of thousands of Religions around the world. Every religion has different holidays, celebrations and festivals for various reasons and these occasions hold dear to the hearts of many. As Hinduism and Buddhism become more globalized their traditions are often secularized and the value of their culture seems to be diminished. The Hindu Festival of Colors and the Buddhist Vesak have been celebrated for hundreds of years and will always play a major role in these religions.
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