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Exploring Cultures: Holi and Carnival

Exploring Cultures: Holi and Carnival
Sabir Sikri '25, & Brayan Tenesaca '25

It’s officially spring, and as we have the day off from school tomorrow to observe Good Friday, which leads into Easter on Sunday, there are other spring celebrations taking place in different cultures. As we stated a few weeks ago in our WiNK article that introduced our series on exploring cultures, “We began to wonder about the differences between our own cultures—like the food we eat and the clothes we wear. Being that our cultures, Ecuador and Indian, were so different, this led us to a bigger question: how do our cultures shape who we are and how we see the world? We wanted to understand each other better, to see sides that we hadn't seen before. We were curious about different cultures and wanted to learn more about what we believe in and why.” This week, we are sharing traditions within our own cultures that coincide with the beginning of spring.

Holi, which was on Monday the 25th of March, is the festival of colors. Contrary to Diwali, which is for the harvesting season, Holi is the celebration of the planting season. The celebration date for the two-day festival changes yearly due to its correlation with the lunar calendar. Holi will always be in either February or March. Along with this, it always lands on a full moon. During this two-day celebration, people do not work, children don’t have school, and parties can go for 48 hours nonstop!
Traditionally, Holi is a Hindu festival, but anyone can celebrate it. It is celebrated not just in India but all around the world.

In Sabir’s experience, the fun doesn’t stop, and he explained, "Everything is colorful. What we do is, there are these colored powders, some made of flowers (most common in India), some made of cornstarch (most common in America), and we throw it at each other.” Since Holi is the festival of colors, powder is thrown at all your friends and family to celebrate it. If you knew someone and had any form of colored powder, you would throw it at them.  Usually, most color throwing happens during the Holi celebration party, with loads of food, games, and dancing. Sabir’s favorite foods include Rusk and chai, gulab jamun, and daal chawal (rice and beans).

But Holi isn’t the only holiday that includes days of partying and festivals. In Latin America, people celebrate the passage from winter to spring with a celebration called Carnival. Specifically in Ecuador, Carnival is celebrated during the days leading up to Ash. Still, unlike the rest of Latin America, Ecuador also honors the indigenous Kichwa by using the festival to celebrate their holiday, Paucar Huatay. To celebrate, Ecuadorians throw eggs, flour, water, and, recently, foam at friends and family members. 

In Brayan’s experience, it was like, “There was no tomorrow when it came to Carnival. My family and the families I knew partied like there was no tomorrow.” Brayan’s family, like the rest of South America, constantly partied by throwing eggs, flour, and water at each other. 

These two celebrations, although on different sides of the world, have such similarities. We also see other holidays during this time; just next week, there is Easter and Eid al-Fitr (the end of Ramadan). 

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