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Carleton to Celebrate Jewish, Hindu Festivals

February 27, 2012

Carleton College will host an interfaith celebration of two festive holidays celebrating early spring – Jewish Purim and Hindu Holi – on Saturday, March 3 at 6 p.m. in the Severance Great Hall. Representatives of both faiths will speak on the significance of their respective holidays and will lead the appropriate prayers. This will be followed by a dinner with foods representing both religions, and by student-led cultural events. This event is free and open to the public.

Purim is a Jewish holiday celebrating the story of Esther, a Jewish woman who became the queen of Persia and saved the Jews of that country from the king’s evil advisor, Haman, who had conspired to massacre them. A joyous holiday, Purim is observed by a reading of the Megillah (the Book of Esther); Jews boo and use noisemakers to drown out every mention of Haman’s name. The holiday is also celebrated by eating hamantashen (triangular pastries said to recall the shape of Haman’s hat) and dressing up in costumes. The Purim portion of the celebration will be lead by Carleton associate chaplain Rabbi Shosh Dworsky.

Holi is a chance to disregard social norms, and is marked by public celebration and merrymaking, at which Hindus attend public bonfires and spray family and friends with colored powder and water. The holiday is associated with several Hindu stories. One story tells of Prahlad, who disobeyed an evil king to continue to worship Vishnu. Prahlad was placed into a fire, but survived unscathed; this story explains the popularity of bonfires at Holi. Other stories tie the holiday to the love between Krishna and Radha. The Holi portion of Carleton’s celebrations will be led by Professor Shana Sippy of Carleton’s Department of Religion.

Recognizing the commonalities in theme between the two holidays, Carleton held its first joint Purim-Holi event six years ago with much success, and it has now become a regular Carleton tradition, taking place every year when the two holidays’ dates fall close enough together.

The event is sponsored by the Carleton College Office of the Chaplain. For further information or disability accommodations, contact Jan Truax at jtruax@carleton.edu, or by calling (507) 222-4003. The Great Hall is located in Severance Hall on College Street on the Carleton College campus.

Written by Alex Korsunsky '12