Happy Holi!

Happy Holi!

Looking for postage that celebrates the upcoming holiday of joyful mayhem, featuring, in the awkward words of the Israel Philatelic Service, “motifs of popular joy, which is expressed in a variety of processions, mass celebrations, color and costumes”?

Israel has a new stamp for you!

And that’s true whether you’re planning to celebrate Purim on March 23-24, or the far-more-popular (from a global perspective) Hindu feast of Holi, which falls this year on March 25 — that is, Purim’s lesser day-after sequel, Shushan Purim.

Yes, the Israel-India partnership — it’s been 32 years since the countries first exchanged ambassadors — which in 2012 led to the two countries issuing stamps honoring their country’s winter holidays of lights — Chanukah and Diwali —now has brought about stamps saluting the Jewish and the Hindu festivals of spring rowdiness.

Holi, not unlike most Jewish holidays, has many origin stories: Followers of the Hindu deities of Krishna, Shiva, and Vishnu each pin the holiday to a different myth involving love, danger, and salvation — three elements central to the Jewish Purim story. Holi has feasting and intoxicants and authorized irreverence — shades of the traditional Purimshpiel satires — as well as the loud sounds of horns and drums. It also has a public component absent from our Purim celebrations, one that would seem harder to import to a suburban American diaspora than Diwali’s celebrations of light: “People douse one another with water and shower each other with brightly colored powder,” Rabbi Daniel Polish explains in his recently published book, “The Way of Torah and the Path of Dharma: Intersections between Judaism and the Religions of India.

Rabbi Polish notes that while Holi and Purim “are clearly different” in “the stories told about them, and their theological purpose,” the two festivals “emerging from different religious traditions, with very different theological messages, turn out to be structurally identical.”

It’s a fascinating idea. Congrats to the Israeli post office for putting a stamp on it.

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