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World Celebrations: An Indian Flower Festival In San Antonio

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Each week on World Music, we not only hear great sounds from around the world, but I share a little news about the many interesting festivals that are taking place this week as well. This week, hear about a flower festival celebrated in India--and right here in San Antonio, as well!


This Hindu festival is celebrated by women, in honor of the goddess Gauri, the goddess of womanhood. This year it starts on the fifth of October, and ends October 13th. There are various legends about the origins of this very beautiful and colorful event. One is that the goddess Parvati, who loved flowers, came to earth--and that the conical mounds of flowers called Bathukamma, which means ‘Come alive Mother Goddess,’ represent the goddess. The floral displays are created by the women who weave flowers in concentric circles and top each display off with a pumpkin flower. These are brought to a central area where all the participants dance and sing in large circles around the flowers. At the end of the Bathukamma Rituals, the flowers are immersed in a nearby body of water to send the goddess back to her heaven.

Hindu women all over the world participate in this festival, and San Antonio is no exception. San Antonio's Bathukamma Festival will take place from 1pm-5pm, October 6th Sunday, at IASA Community Center, 9114 Summer Wind, 78217. See a video of last year's celebration below!



The Takayama Festival has a history that stretches back to the 17th century, but while no one knows how it originated, it does have a commencement date of 1652. The festival is actually held twice each year; one takes place on the 14th and 15th of April, and the second on October 9th and 10th. The Spring Festival is held to promote a good harvest, and the October festival is for giving thanks. They both use the same essential components: large elaborate floats and exquisitely made puppets.

The elaborate floats of the Takayama Festivals are made of intricate metal work with gold lacquered wood, sumptuously embroidered drapery and fascinating appendages. There are enormously high and are on huge wooden wheels and are dragged around by men in traditional Japanese garb. At night, each float is decked out with up to a hundred traditional lanterns representing a district in Takayama. There are eleven in all, and each dates back to the seventeenth century. Great care is taken in housing these treasures. The puppet situation is quite dire as their moving parts rely on a controversial source-- Right whale baleen (used by whales to filter their prey from the sea water), for which no substitutes work, not even baleen from other whales. The three marionettes are operated by nine puppeteers pulling on thirty six strings. There is a museum in Takayama for visitors to get an up close and personal look at floats and puppets.

Learn more about these and other celebrations happening around the world this week on World Music with Deirdre Saravia, Saturday nights at 8:00 on KSTX 89.1 FM.

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Deirdre as born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and her first paid work was at the age of 10 with the BBC as an actress on "Children's Hour." She continued to perform regularly on radio and stage for the next eight years, at which point she was informed by her parents that theater was not an option and she needed "real" work.