Of all the festivals, Holi was my favourite growing up. Holi celebrates celebrates the coming of spring with all its beautiful colours. When I was a not so little girl, we had a tradition. Every year, my mother would take a picture of me before I washed off all the colours.
Here in the United States, I have appropriated the Japanese tradition of welcoming spring by going “cherry blossom viewing”. If we can’t go anywhere, I make it a point to stand under a cherry tree and admire the pale pink clouds. Washington D.C. hosts a very popular cherry blossom festival, but I have always maintained it’s nicer to go locally. The D.C. festival is great and can be done once, but it feels like everyone in the country has descended on tidal basin.
This year, we went to the Branch Brook Park in Newark, a twenty minute drive from home. At first it seemed like the rapid weather changes in the past week had destroyed all the blossoms. Walking around a bit, we saw other groups headed to the other side of the water. Crossing over, we found Spring had not been completed routed. It had fallen back and held it’s lines here.
In Japanese culture the short life of the delicate sakura (cherry blossoms) is considered symbolic of the fleeting nature of life.The blossoms fall around two weeks after they peak. Hanami literally means “viewing blossoms” and the tradition can be traced back to the last millennium. During the Nara period (710–794), in a more ancient form of the tradition, people admired the transient beauty of ume (plum blossoms). In was only during the Heian period (794–1185) that hanami became synonymous with sakura. Today, a thousand years later and an ocean away, people still enjoy picnicking under the trees.