Fall & Festivals

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My friends in India often wonder why do we refer to autumn as fall? Well, it’s just another name for autumn, may be associated with the fact that the leaves are continuously falling from all the trees and it is a change of season, from the bright and lush green summer to a cold and barren winter. A season of harvest, a time to celebrate the bounty of Nature or if I may quote John Keats’ Ode to Autumn, then it’s just:
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness!
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;

Fall is just beautiful in North America when all trees starts to change color from early October; oaks, maples, ash and serviceberries. It’s a riot of colors when the tree leaves change to reds, oranges, purples, yellows, browns, bronzes, and grays. So, how does Mother Nature manage to splash so many colors during this particular season? If you go back to your biology lessons relating to plant life, you will probably recollect that all these colors are due to lack of sunlight the chlorophyll filled leaves receive in the fall. The lack of food production and the loss of chlorophyll cause the leaves to turn color. The color changes are more predominate in some trees than others. Like I mentioned earlier, trees like maples, ash, oak, and serviceberries can display bright glowing colors. Also there are trees within each of these species that are boring and not very colorful at all.
So, autumn means festival and colors. When I say festival, I mean the months of ‘Aashwin’ and ‘Kartik’ which are the months for Durga Puja, Kojagori Laxmi Puja, Karwa Chauth, Diwali and Kali Puja. But these festivals are not just limited to India or its people around the World. China, for instance has a very popular mid-autumn festival that is also called the moon festival. It is basically a lunar harvest festival and people celebrate the main harvest of the region. Moon cakes are a must during mid autumn fest.

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(Diwali)

Coming back to North America, the festivals associated with the fall are the ‘Halloween’ and the ‘Thanksgiving.’ The first one is celebrated on 31st October every year and is all about fun activities like ‘trick or treat’ where children of different age groups dress up in fancy costumes and go around house to house and collect chocolates, candies and toffees as a part of ‘treat’ or play some mischief as a ‘treat.’
The best part of Thanksgiving is perhaps the Turkey Roast, for which the day is sometimes even called ‘Turkey Day.’ Even though it started when the Americans decided to formally thank the native Americans for saving a group of pilgrims from the severe winter, Thanksgiving now is a family oriented matter. No matter how far the siblings or the parents are, they come together on this day, November 26th and celebrate. For us, it’s just another holiday with the roasted turkey!  

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(Halloween Pumpkins)

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(Turkey Roast)