Chicago IL: The colorful festival of Holi was celebrated at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago on Saturday, March 7th 2015 and what a celebration that was! The weather man threw a curve at the activities, the temperature that was in low forties during midday dipped into high thirties by the afternoon and was actually at the near freezing mark around 6:00 pm. But it didn’t matter. Throngs of revelers started descending on temple grounds by mid-afternoon and soon the whole complex was buzzing with men and women of all ages and of different religions and faiths. It was really people’s spirit that beat the cold and warmed up the weather.
To start of the events, three hours of cultural program was presented by the temple’s cultural committee with over 250 children participating to a jam packed audience in HTGC auditorium. Thanks to hard working volunteers who managed and regulated the traffic and parking of over 1400 automobiles at two remote parking lots. Six buses were put in service to transport the attendees from the parking lots to the temple and back.
Of course, the highlight of the day happened outside in the huge temple complex with people dancing to Bollywood numbers and throwing colors at each other. There were smiling faces all over. The sale of colors was so brisk that temple had to use two tents exclusively for this purpose and was very well organized by the temple’s treasurer Mrs. Renuka Reddy. It should be mentioned here that this is the only temple in Chicagoland that allows playing with the colors in its campus grounds.
There was a continuous supply of tasty snacks outside – Samosas, Bhel Puri and Masala Chai made fresh in the kitchen that kept the hungry mouths well satisfied and inside the temple, complete food service including lunch and dinner was made available by a team of Prasadam committee volunteers led by the chair Mrs. Sathya Srinivasan. Many locals from Lemont and Woodridge community enjoyed the celebration and tasted Indian delicacies.
Celebration of Holi has a different meaning for each one. Some follow the legendary story of demon King Hiranyakashyap who demanded everybody in his kingdom worship him, but his pious son, Prahlad became a devotee of Lord Vishnu.
So Hiranyakashyap wanted his son to be killed. He asked his sister Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad on her lap since Holika had a boon that made her immune to fire. Story goes that Prahlad was saved by Lord Vishnu himself for his extreme devotion and the evil minded Holika was burnt to ashes since her boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Since then, people light a bonfire called Holika on the eve of Holi festival and celebrate the victory of good over evil and also the triumph of devotion to God. Children take special delight in the tradition and this has another legend related to it. It says that there was once an ogress Dhundhi who used to trouble children in the kingdom of Prithu. She was chased away by children on the day of Holi. Therefore, children are allowed to play pranks at the time of ‘Holika Dahan’.
And yet few others believe to worship Kaamadeva- the God of love and passion for his extreme sacrifice. According to a legend, Kaamadeva shot his powerful love arrow on Lord Shiva to revoke his interest in the worldly affairs in the interest of the earth. However, Lord Shiva was enraged as he was in deep meditation and opened his third eye which reduced Kaamadeva to ashes. Though, later on the imploring of Rati, Kaamadeva’s wife, Shiva was pleased to restore him back to life. Be the Holi as representing the beginning of the spring or victory of good over evil, the joyous community members were enjoying applying color on each other expressing love and respect by way of hugs.
HTGC President, Bhima Reddy thanked the attendees for being part of the celebration and continuing the culture. He thanked all the volunteers for their enthusiasm, good support and making the occasion a joyous event.
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