The first day of Spring is tomorrow and besides my allergies, there is much going on. #achoo!
First, the Moon will be at its fullest tonight; bigger and brighter than ever. This super perigee moon is going to rise in the east at sunset in all of its full Moon glory and I don't know about you, but I will definitely be ready with my camera! "The last full Moon so big and close to Earth occurred in March of 1993," says Geoff Chester of the US Naval Observatory in Washington DC. "I'd say it's worth a look."
And as if that weren't exciting enough (well, it is to me *insert Nerdy Brown Girl grin here*), my Facebook friend and Brainy Brown Girl Dr. Danielle N. Lee of Urban Science Adventures just posted that she's in St. Louis for a US celebration of Holi, a spring religious festival for Hindus celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the lunar month Phalguna (that would be today). [Wiki] Holi is also known as the Festival of Colors.
Danielle will be in the midst of the revelry as people throw colored powder and colored water at each other, a ritual that has gone on since at least since the 7th century. The spring season, during which the weather changes, is believed to cause viral fever and cold. The playful throwing of natural coloured powders has a medicinal significance: the colours are traditionally made of Neem, Kumkum, Haldi, Bilva, and other medicinal herbs prescribed by Āyurvedic doctors. A special drink called thandai is prepared (commonly made of almonds, pistachios, rose petals, etc.), sometimes containing bhang (Cannabis indica). Oooo-chee-wah-wah. Sounds like a Spring party to me!
Click here for a recipe for this cool & refreshing traditional Indian drink.
|Women preparing the Holika Dahan bonfire|
at Thapathali, Kathmandu. Nepal.
Usually, bonfires are lit the day before Holi in memory of the miraculous escape that young Prahlad accomplished when Demoness Holika, sister of Hiranyakashipu, carried him into the fire. Holika was burnt but Prahlad, a staunch devotee of god Vishnu, escaped without any injuries due to his unshakable devotion. [Yep, Wiki again] And even if you don't understand the intricacies of Hindu religion, you can most likely understand the idea of celebrating unshakable devotion, yes? I know I do.
And just when you thought the rare full Moon and the Hindu Spring Fling was enough to keep the party going, there is a Persian party going on too (!) ... and it's called Nowrūz...or more simply...Persian New Year. I learned about Nowrūz from one of my store customers who came in yesterday to "buy something new for the New Year." Of course, I started asking questions ("What New Year?") and found myself all up in her business as she talked about Persian culture and customs (new clothes, fire jumping, food, etc.).
|Kurds in Istanbul celebrate Nowruz.|
Oh. And then there's the cool thing with the fire. Looks like fire is not only used to celebrate Holi, but is also the symbol of Nowrūz. #noticingthesimilarities betweencultures In Kurdistan, jumping over the fire (known as Chuwarshama Kulla) happens on New Year's Eve.
Likewise, Chahārshanbe-Sūri - which means feast in Persian - is an ancient Iranian festival ... [a]lso called the Festival of Fire ... and is a prelude to Nowrūz. The words Chahar Shanbeh mean Wednesday and Suri means red. [Wiki rocks] #nowthat'shot
It's a rainy dreary day as I sit here and type this blog post that is full of color and life (and fire!); and I feel excited about the rare Moon and the start of Spring. Holi Masti and Happy Persian New Year everyone! What do you do to celebrate the start of Spring?