Association of Rajasthanis celebrates “Holi Milan” Colors of joy Rajasthani Style

Chicago IL: The Association of Rajasthanis in America (ARA) celebrated Holi with their annual function at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago in Lemont, Illinois on Saturday, March 12, 2011. It was the third Holi event for the organization since they began celebrating this festival. 300 guests attended led by the president, Ram Saini. The event was highlighted with melodious songs by well known singer Shaila Khedkar and dances by the Tarana Dance Academy.

The Master of Ceremonies, Gaurav Arora began the event with a welcome note by Sunita Sarup. This was followed by a mixture of songs and dances, including four sensational dances – Kathak and Bollywood show by 26 participants from the Academy. There was also a Rajasthani medley performed by Garima Jajoo, Mahie Gopalka and Anavi Tekriwal.

Along with the Indian American community of Chicagoland, several dignitaries including the local politicians Ram Saini (President), Sunita Sarup (Vice President), Kalpana Malani (Secretary), Seema Mahansaria (Cultural Coordinator) Sunita Mantri, and lots of members of Association of Rajasthanis of America were present for Holi Milan.

ARA (Association of Rajasthanis of America) was established in Chicago in July 1994 in order to preserve and maintain the Rajasthani culture for Indians living in the United States of America especially for the people originally migrated from Rajasthan, India. With its recent revival in October, 2008, ARA is more than ever committed to promote the spiritual and cultural growth of Rajasthani Americans.

Originally meant to carry on the traditions and cultures of Rajasthan, ARA hosts at least three annual functions Holi, Diwali and summertime picnic and aspires to host even more of them in the future. ARA endeavors to motivate the ounger Rajasthani generation, using the guidance of long-term ARA members, to understand the roots and values of this rich heritage. The hope of ARA is to create a foundation for the younger Rajasthani generation so that they would proudly to carry on the Rajasthani culture and traditions.

The celebration of Holi has different aspects. It is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil, a carnival of colors, a community festival, and a tradition of ancient spring rites, The ashes from the Holi fire are also believed to provide protection against diseases. It’s something similar to the ancient rites of burning Maypole in the West part of the globe. The main event of Holi is indeed a carnival of colors. On this day, children, friends and neighbors come out on the streets. And the spree to color-anyone-you-see takes over. Colors of all form and variety. They come in shades of red, orange, blue, green, and purple, and the likes. And they are available in oil, water or powder base.

It is a community festival that bridges the social gap. People color each other with gulal and other form of dyes. Young men throw colored powder and colored water on women. They also visit homes, distribute sweets and greet each other. Men, women, adult and children all take part in dances and other cultural programs. Holi bears close similarities with the important ancient festival called Vasantotsav, an age-old tradition of celebrating the arrival of spring. This festival was celebrated as a day when people forgot caste and gender differences and were allowed many liberties, otherwise forbidden. And like any spring festival celebrated by ancient peoples all over the world, Vasantotsav also had certain rites. These include lighting up of fires, driving off demons, setting the normal orders in reverse, sporting something weird, having a community feast, and so on.

ARA has set many goals for the future to help the state to cope up with the water shortage that ails Rajasthan through different fundraising activities. ARA also plans to promote the health and welfare of Rajasthanis through future participation in health fairs and such other activities in addition to hosting annual functions to maintain the network of Rajasthanis in Chicago.

Since its revival ARA membership has substantially increased and has brought together Chicago Rajasthanis in a united platform. Not only has the three functions mentioned above been hosted since 2008, but the attendance has been in the hundreds – including youth and the older generation. With time and networking, ARA hopes to host an even larger audience in the future. With time and networking, ARA hopes to host an even larger audience in the future.

Rajasthan, known throughout the checkered history of India as the land of color and valor is the largest state of the Republic of India by area. It encompasses most of the area of the large, inhospitable Great Indian Desert (Thar Desert), paralleling the Sutlej-Indus river valley along its border with Pakistan. The state borders Pakistan to the west, Gujarat to the southwest, Madhya Pradesh to the southeast, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana to the northeast and Punjab to the north. The proportion of the state’s total area to the total area of the country is 10.41 per cent.

Jaipur is the capital and the largest city of the state. The archaeological ruins at Kalibanga are the oldest in the subcontinent discovered so far. One of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, the Aravalli Range, cradles the only hill station of Rajasthan, Mount Abu, famous for Dilwara Temples, a sacred pilgrimage for Jains. Eastern Rajasthan has two national tiger reserves, Ranthambore and Sariska Tiger Reserve, as well as Keoladeo National Park near Bharatpur, once famous for its bird life.

Rajasthan was formed on 30 March 1949, when all erstwhile princely states ruled by Rajputs, known as Rajputana, merged into the republic of India.

The delicious food was supplied by Swati Restaurant in Chicago. The event also had a DJ who played music throughout the show venue and after dinner for open dance floor. The night was marked with Dandiya for the first time ever in an ARA function for all attendees.

Photographs and Press release by: Asian Media USA

Suresh Bodiwala
Asian Media USA
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