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HSS Makar Samkranti Festival

Press Release

Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS), a non-profit cultural organization, focused on the Hindu community in the USA, celebrated its 2nd annual ‘Bala Mela’ (children’s festival) on Saturday, January 10, 2004 at the Joseph P. Keefe Technical School in Framingham, MA on the occasion of Makar Samkranti.

Temperature: 4 degrees F; wind chill: minus 10 degrees F; attendance: 400 enthusiastic fans! All were welcomed at the entrance with ‘Til-Gul,’ a festive sweet made with sesame and jaggery, to represent the strong bonds amongst the individuals of the society.

Amidst the frigid New England winter, the attendees of Bala Mela enjoyed a warm afternoon of children’s musical performances (111 performers) rejoicing the melodies of life and games such as archery, honoring the skillfulness of Dhronacharya, the great sage of Mahabharata. Children also learned about ‘devatas’ (Gods) and ‘danavas’ (Devils) through a game called Sudarshan Chakra. In this game, children spun the Chakra (wheel) and tried to land the spindle on a ‘devata’ to win a prize. Everyone also took pleasure in activities such as drawing, face painting, and mehendi (henna) designs. A unique stall featured alternatives to television viewing where the children were encouraged to read and play more games than watch television. Children and adults alike enjoyed a variety of homemade Indian snacks and desserts. Various stalls distributed books and other prizes to the winners of friendly contests.

Several social, cultural, and religious organizations from across the New England supported this event by presenting cultural items, minding stalls, serving food, spreading good will, and attending the event.

HSS organizes this free event on the occasion of Makar Samkranti festival (celebrated in India on January 14th). The time when the Sun changes direction from one constellation of the Zodiac to another is known as Samkranti. Transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice (a time when the sun is over the tropic of Capricorn) in the northern hemisphere (Uttarayana) is known as Makar Samkranti. Indians all over the world celebrate this day of Sun’s northward journey as an auspicious day to mark the continued forward movement of human kind. This festival signifies the transition towards a better, balanced and harmonious society and nurtures the bond of love and affection between families, neighbors, and the world.

HSS runs “Balagokulams” or Children Centers throughout the USA to impart Hindu cultural values to children. For more information on HSS, visit http://www.hssworld.org. To learn more about Balagokulams please visit www.balagokulam.org.

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