|Home | Issues | The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 36, Tuesday February 10, 2004|
festivals around the world
Spring is welcomed in every part of the world amidst festivals and rituals. For the people of all seven continents it is a time when fresh new buds appear on trees with gentle warming of soil and air. Nature tenderly prods all the plants out of their winter dormancy, and prepares for another period of abundant growth in the warmth of a new season. Spring is the end of all the woes left behind by the worst of winter.
In our continent the urge of cuckoo to find its love, the aroma of mango blossom, the sweet tender breeze, the pleasant sensation in the skin announces the coming of the season. We celebrate it amidst dancing and singing. Bracing ourselves with the finest of bashonti clothing such as saree and panjabi, gazra in the hair, bindia on the forehead and hanging out with friends is our way of celebration.
What are the ways of celebration around the world during spring? Let us have a brief tour around the world to know about the most exquisite manners of spring festivity.
In China the most important holiday is Spring Festival. Spring may be the very last season in our country but in China the beginning of spring is the New Year. Spring festival begins during the last moon of the lunar year. During this time houses are thoroughly cleaned, debts repaid, hair properly cut and new clothes purchased. Houses are festooned with paper scrolls bearing verses, people burn incense at home and in the temples they pay respects to ancestors. On the last midnight of the year, before the spring commence, people let off firecrackers, meaning to drive away the evil spirits and to greet the arrival of the New Year. The Lantern festival is the most interesting ritual of all. Paper lanterns are prepared and lit all over China. It also means the end of spring festival in many part of the country.
In Japan the first sign of springtime comes from the blooming of Cherry. Pinks, whites and reds announce the end of winter. Cherry Blossom festivals are held to welcome the new season. From ancient times, people of Japan have celebrated the cherry blossom festival or 'O-hanami', which means 'flower viewing' in Japanese. Japanese people offer prayers under the flowering cherry trees in a special ritual wishing for the fertility of the earth. Cherry blossoms are considered as the symbol of a life, lived fully. With more than 50 varieties of cherries blooming from March to May the enthusiasm flares up.
Millions of people visit famous temples, gardens and scenic spots. Dance and music concerts are arranged featuring the cherry blossom. The celebration of spring also continues with poetry competitions, calligraphy exhibits, and paintings that depict the viewing season. Picnics are also planned under the flowers to celebrate the transitory stay of this popular symbol of Japan.
In India the most colourful spring festival is Holi. This joyful event is celebrated on the full moon day of Phalgun.
The night before the full moon, crowds gather in open spaces and light huge bonfires to burn the remaining dried leaves and twigs of the winter symbolizing as burning the old and welcoming the new. They offer corn, new vegetables, coconuts, butter, sweets, flowers and Vermilion to the god of fire, Hutashani. The Holi bonfire is a community event. It also commemorates the puranic legend of burning the demoness Holika ensuring victory of good over evil.
The next morning, when the ashes are cold, the sacred dust of the bonfire is venerated. Revellers throw coloured water and powders at each other to welcome the coming of spring. In villages Holi is called Phag or Shimga. It is an important fortnight-long celebration during which homes are repaired, harvests planned, weddings held and feast shared.
In Brazil, people celebrate spring by dancing samba and arranging carnivals. They wear masks of famous legends and personalities. This year the most favoured mask is the bearded face of recently toppled leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein.
of the most prominent spring festivals of Spain is "Las Fallas"
(Fire Festival) of Valencia. In Hispanic, "Fallas"
means comical scenes made up of cardboard figures. The end of winter
and the onset of spring are marked by this fire festival. These paper
monuments called "fallas" are erected on every street
corner and squares of Valencia around the 15th of March. Each of the
"fallas" depicts a satirical scene. These figures
are set on fire on 19th March, accompanied with incredible firework
displays. This celebration symbolizes as 'anything left behind by the
cold winter which may be considered as bad is burnt'.
by Shahnaz Parveen
of style and colour
a fun-filled party…
By Wara Karim
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