In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Prior Park Prep School in Cricklade (Wiltshire, England), a Catholic/Christian school for children aged rising 3 -13, reportedly celebrated Hindu “festival of color” Holi on March 23.
According to reports, the pupils threw colored powder paint at each other and staff. Students in years three to eight also learned about the spiritual festival before color play.
Mission statement of this day and boarding co-educational prep school, “which promotes a Catholic/Christian ethos” includes “to provide Christian education, specifically Catholic” and it aims “to lead the children towards a lasting belief in our Christian faith”. “Every Thursday the school comes together in a collective act of worship at Mass, in which all pupils take an active part.” Mark A. Pearce is the Headmaster.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, commended Prior Park Prep School Cricklade for organizing Holi activities, calling it is a step in the positive direction.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that thus opening-up pupils to major world religions and non-believers’ viewpoint would make them well-nurtured, well-balanced, and enlightened citizens of tomorrow. It also made a good business sense to know the beliefs of “others” in a global community. Moreover, students should have knowledge of the entire society to become full participants in the society.
Joie de vivre Hindu festival of Holi welcomes the beginning of spring and starts about ten days before the full moon of Phalguna. Besides color play, ceremonies also include the lighting of the bonfires, during which all evils are symbolically burnt. Holi also commemorates the frolics of youthful Lord Krishna; and celebrates the death of demoness Putana, burning of demoness Holika, and destruction of Kama by Lord Shiva. Holi fell on March 23 this year.
Roman Catholicism, with followers numbering around 1.2 billion, is the largest denomination of Christianity currently headed by His Holiness Pope Francis from Vatican City. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksh (liberation) is its ultimate goal.