The earliest spring holy days popped up in February. But, now that it’s March, there are even more! We can’t share them all, so we’ll focus on the first two weeks of March this time around.
Nineteen Day Fast (sundown, Feb. 29-sundown March 19): This fast, observed by Baha’is, leads up to their new year, which starts on the vernal equinox. The fasting rules look very similar to those observed by Muslims during Ramadan (no food or drink from sunrise to sunset). That’s probably not a coincidence since Baha’ism was founded in the mid-1800’s in Persia. Now Iran, the country is 99.5% Muslim.
Holi (March 9-10): Holi is an Indian/Hindu spring festival. It’s famous for the colored powders that are thrown on anyone and everyone who’s running about in the streets. Other popular customs include singing, dancing, and bonfires. Several legends are associated with Holi. The tale of Prahlada and Holika is one of the most widely-known.
Purim (sundown, March 9-sundown, March 10): Purim is one of the most festive of the Jewish holidays. It celebrates the story of Queen Esther saving the Jewish people from genocide at the hands of the evil, Haman. The entire scroll (megillah) of Esther is read, which is where the phrase “the whole megillah” comes from! Dressing up in costumes, making noise whenever Haman’s name is read, and eating triangular pastries (called hamantaschen) are usually part of the somewhat raucous festivities.
Hola Mohalla (March 10-12): This Sikh festival, instituted by Gobind Singh, the Sikh’s 10th (and final) human Guru, always occurs around the same time as Holi. The usual Sikh practices of kirtan and langar occur, but Hola Mohalla also includes fairs where poetry is shared and mock battles are staged. These fairs celebrate both the artist and warrior aspects of Sikhism’s history.