Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 36, Tuesday February 10, 2004







Spring 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.

One 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'.
The rituals and traditions in other parts of world might be different but the aspiration is the same everywhere. It is indeed the joviality that rules our heart. It is the buoyant mood that continues to live on after the dry and dull winter.

Compiled by Shahnaz Parveen

Shop talk

Lamps of style and colour
An artistic lamp spreading soft light in the evening is sure to convert your abode to an idyllic shot from your best-liked romantic movie. To tell the truth, a lamp adds to the elegance of your home. Not only that a lamp serves as a great aesthetic piece but also the delicate light that a lamp diffuses brings serenity to a chamber. If you have been looking forward to buying a lovely lamp for your home for a long time then don't forget to check out Artefacts. This shop has an enchanting collection of lamps made from terra cotta, wood and glass. Available in various artistic shapes and designs, the lamps available here would certainly fascinate you. Prices will vary on the materials from which the lamps are made and intricacy of cuts and crafts. But by spending some tk.300 to tk.350, you can be a proud owner of a beautiful lamp from Artefacts. Artefacts is located beside Sobhanbag Masjid.

For a fun-filled party…
If your child's birthday is coming up then to give his/her friends a real surprise, buy a few of the engrossing cans of snow spray and ribbons obtainable at stores these days. Available at Celebrations, situated in Metro Shopping Mall, each of these amusing Taiwanese cans of snow sprays and crazy ribbons will cost you tk.160.

Colourful bangles
Stones studded bangles still seem to be in fashion; popular stores still have these colourful bangles in their collection. You can check out the shops at Metro Shopping Mall; this emporium has quite a few outlets selling eye-catching Indian adornments just for jewellery-lovers. So if you have passion for multicoloured bangles to compliment your outfits then do check out the stores there. Prices will vary from collection to collection; but within tk.250 you are likely to purchase one of these collections; each of these collections consists of 24 bangles.

This is just the beginning of a brand new year. In the start of a New Year, a fresh calendar becomes a must-have item for every household and office. You too can choose a calendar to grace your home from scores of calendars available at bookstores of Dhaka and the New Market. But then don't forget to check out Jatra; they have printed some really engaging calendars this year. These small wall and desk calendars would certainly add to the status of your room. The desk calendars are available at tk.170. However, the wall calendars will cost you a little less. So to keep track of days and months this year, get hold of one of these fascinating calendars for your home and office.

By Wara Karim






Essentials Special

Do not…
litter. Although littering may seem a common practice around Dhaka, it has to end. People of all walks of life drop different sorts of junk onto the streets, and we all know that the DCC does not have enough manpower to clean up the whole city comprehensively. Lit cigarettes, all sorts of paper junk, and even bottles are thrown off at roads. This malpractice has to stop in order to make Dhaka cleaner. The DCC spends a lot of money in beautification annually, and this fund should be relocated to keep it cleaner.

Did you notice that…
The Dhaka City Corporation (DCC) last year dug up most of the city streets mainly during the rainy season. This practice has been consistent for the last few years and causes great losses for the corporation. The roads normally have to be redug quite a few times and we all know that they are repaired after years. This time of the year seems the best time to make repairs and carry out servicing to the underground system of Dhaka, mainly because of the lack of precipitation. However, no such action seems to be taking place.

CNG fares…
The Government promised to decrease the CNG fares right after Eid-ul-Fitr last year, but has failed to carry it out. It is simply ridiculous that such a statement had been made, with the public looking forward to a decrease in fares. CNG's are already hard to find in the city at times and the drivers normally want an increase in the fair between Tk.5-10. CNG drivers also normally don't take passengers for small trips in the city.

The lack of…
places to hang-out for the younger generation is definitely something we should look into. There are very few activities that a teen can do in the city these days, and this definitely causes them to seek alternative measures such as drugs. Places like Dhanmondi Lake are flooded with people during the afternoon, and we have to make similar places where teens can have fun and spend time. On top of it all, drug awareness programmes are scarce in the city schools and this has to be changed in order to have a new generation that can make a difference to the country.

What is in the air…
Valentines Day is just around the corner and we have already entered the realms of spring. It seems that love is in the air during this time of the year. Celebrate the occasion and make sure you enjoy yourself with your loved ones. Star Lifestyle wishes all of you out there a happy Valentines Day, and hopes that cupid catches up with you during spring.

By Mishal Ali Khan





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