Tag Archives: Hindu

Holi: The Indian Festival of Color

Wouldn’t you love to celebrate the coming of spring with a wild and exuberant festival where you didn’t have to behave and got to throw colored powder and perfume on people? Sounds like fun!

That’s the festival of Holi, an Indian holiday that is believed to commemorate the faithfulness of a young man, Prahlada, who continued to worship the god, Vishnu, even after he was ordered to stop by his father. His father commanded him and his aunt, Holika, into a fire that burnt up the aunt but spared Prahlada. The name Holi comes from the unlucky aunt.

Followers of Hinduism offer prayers on Holi and light bonfires to commemorate the story of Prahlada, as well.

The festival can last for a few days and it is generally seen as a time where people do not have to adhere to the strict social code in India but can relax and celebrate.

Although celebrations may vary by region, Holi is an important holiday in India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Bangladesh.

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Tandoori Chicken and the History of India and Pakistan

Although I love Indian food, I’ve never been daring enough to make it at home. But that all changed today.

Meet Tandoori Chicken, my spicy new best friend.

According to Wikipedia, this is one recipe that really tells the story of two nations that share many things, including animosity towards each other.

It was originally created by a restauranteur in Peshawar province, before the partition of British-controlled India.

Partition was an incredibly violent and dangerous time. Carving up the territory into rival nations, India and Pakistan, meant that many Hindus found themselves on the “wrong” side of a newly created border and the same thing happened to Muslims in India.

The restauranteur, Kundan Lal Gujral, was Hindu and he made the dangerous journey out of Peshawar to finally arrive in Delhi where he started a new restaurant but maintained his prized Tandoori Chicken recipe.

The dish soon became a favorite of India’s first Prime Minister Jawarhalal Nehru and he served it at state dinners honoring American presidents John Kennedy and Richard Nixon, as well as other world leaders.

Like many dishes, Tandoori Chicken can’t be said to belong to any one nation. Its name comes not from a region or a religion but from the tandoor – a small, bell-shaped clay oven.

However, I – a Catholic in New Jersey who has never visited South Asia – made a pretty good version of it on a grill in my backyard.

If you’re interested in learning more about partition – a really fascinating story – there are many books and articles you can read about Mohandas Gandhi and Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the men who led India and Pakistan, respectively, during this time.

I can recommend the film “Jinnah,” which was written by Dr. Akbar Ahmed, with whom I worked at American University.

Although I have always been interested in history and world cultures, Dr. Ahmed was the person who introduced me to this really incredible story.

Isn’t it amazing that food can be an avenue to explore all this?

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