Great scenes from Hindu Soc’s celebration of Holi. All this madness and mayhem took place in Imperial’s Secret Garden, just behind the Chaplaincy Multi-Faith Centre.
Talking to students I heard many stories and meanings associated with Holi. It is certainly the festival of spring and a celebration of colour.
In honour of my present, and ex-, Hindu colleagues who are devotees of Krishna, here is the Wikipedia account of Holi that tells of the love between Krishna and Radha.
‘In In Braj region of India, where Krishna grew up, the festival is celebrated for 16 days in commemoration of the divine love of Radha for Krishna, a Hindu deity. The festivities officially usher in spring, with Holi celebrated as festival of love. There is a symbolic myth behind commemorating Krishna as well. Baby Krishna transitioned into his characteristic dark blue skin colour because a she demon Putana poisoned him with her breast milk. In his youth, Krishna despairs whether fair skinned Radha and other Gopikas (girls) will like him because of his skin colour. His mother, tired of the desperation, asks him to approach Radha and colour her face in any colour he wanted. This he does, and Radha and Krishna became a couple. The playful colouring of the face of Radha has henceforth been commemorated as Holi.’
One of my other colleagues left this summer. Gopal Das worked for the Chaplaincy for the last two years as one of our student Chaplains. Gopal made a great contribution to Chaplaincy communications – re-designing our website and our other digital and printed publicity. He developed our network to stay in touch with staff and students across three Colleges. Above all he turned Chaplaincy towards the Dharmic religions in a way we had never achieved before. So we had Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist groups regularly meeting in the Chaplaincy mainly as a result of Gopal’s work.
I wrote recently about Eboo Patel’s Interfaith Triangle for developing good relationships between people of different religions. So he says that knowing a person of a different religion increases knowledge which increases a positive attitude to their religion.Which, of course, makes possible deeper level conversations with other people of that religion which then sets off another positive trip around the triangle. Working with Gopal helped me complete many circuits of the interfaith triangle. As a Christian I learnt a great deal about Hinduism and especially Krishna Consciousness – I am so grateful for the personal contact and being able to work as part of a team.
Gopal is working for the Bhumi Project connected to the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies. He is now in India working with others to model good care of the environment at major Hindu Pilgrimage sites and to spread the environmental message back into Hindu communities around the world. There is more info about this at http://blog.bhumiproject.org/ and you can follow him on Twitter http://twitter.com/BhumiGopalPatel