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Children's LiteratureAmong the latest of Ganeri's numerous nonfiction books on India, this volume is also part of the publisher's series, "A Year of Festivals." Other titles include Jewish Festivals and Buddhist Festivals. Translated into American idiom (the books were originally published by Franklin Watts Australia), "festival" means "holiday." The series offers background, photographs, information about related traditions, and activities designed to offer young readers insights into the holidays of a number of different religious traditions from around the world. Ganeri does a nice job of delineating the regional differences of observance that characterize Hindu celebrations and often make them so confusing to the Western observer. She starts with an introduction to Hinduism that includes information on the calendar, main deities, and a quick overview of worship and beliefs. Chapters on specific festivals address the southern harvest rituals of Pongal, the spring observance of Vasanta Panchami, Mahashivaratri or the day sacred to the god Shiva, Holi the color festival of north India, Ramanavami or Rama's birthday, the Ratha Yatra (procession) of Puri, Raksha Bandhan in which sisters and brothers celebrate their love, Janmashtami or Krishna's birthday, the elephant god's day or Ganesha Chaturthi, festivals of the Goddess, and perhaps the best known of Hindu holidays, Divali. Where she can, Ganeri also makes an effort to show Hindu celebrations both in the homeland and the Hindu diaspora. A modified recipe for Holi sweets (using dried milk powder) is easy to follow. Also included are directions for making a rakhi (bracelet), and a shadow-puppet theater box and puppets associated with the RamLila celebration. A calendar, glossary, list of print and Internet resources, and brief index round out the book. 2004, Smart Apple Media, Ages 8 to 12.
— Uma Krishnaswami