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New England Rajasthanis Celebrate Holi And Gangaur

Rekha Palriwala

Rajasthanis in New England area celebrated Holi and Gangaur festivals in Boston on Sunday March 25, 2012.   New England Chapter of Maheshwari Mahasabha of North America [MMNA] and Rajasthani Association of New England [RANE].  The celebrations were one of the cherished events.  All enthusiastically enjoyed the prayers, Mehandi, entertainment programs consisting of songs and folk dances and the delicious feast. Everyone had a wonderful time like never before and felt like a family event.

Holi, the festival of colors and welcoming of spring, is celebrated as the triumph of good over evil. In this festival everyone enthusiastically drop their inhibitions, and chase each other in temples and through the streets, playfully splashing colorful liquids, powder and water on each other. According to the Hindu lunar calendar, this year Holi was on March 7-8.

Gangaur festival rituals commence the day after Holi and go on for 18 days. The last day culminates on a major celebration. This year the New England Gangaur celebrations coincided with this last day, on Sunday March 25, which added very much to the enthusiasm of the men and women participating on this joyous occasion. Gangaur has special significance for people mainly considering their origin from the state of Rajasthan in India.  Gangaur is celebrated all over Rajasthan, and is one of the state's most important festivals. The most notable celebrations take place in Jaipur, Udaipur, Jodhpur, Jaisalmer, and Bikaner. In Udaipur, Gangaur coincides with the Mewar Festival.  

Gangaur is all about honoring the goddess Gauri, a manifestation of Parvati (Lord Shiva's wife). Gangaur festival is predominantly for women. who dress up in their best clothes with beautiful jewelry Unmarried women pray for a husband of their choice, while married woman pray for welfare of their husbands. On the last day a colorful processions of bejeweled images of the goddess Gauri wind their way all over cities and villages, accompanied by local bands.  Elephants, old palanquins (Palkhis), chariots, bullock carts, and folk performances are all part of it.

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