Monday, September 14, 2009

The Dancing World

“A Year of Festivals: A Guide to Having the Time of Your Life”
ISBN No. 978-1-74179-049-8

How’s this for the perfect back-to-school book? Lonely Planet has catalogued all the parties going on year-round in the global village.
The best thing about the book is the sense that the world really is open all night; that there’s a party always going on somewhere on the planet. The second best thing about the book is that each festival reveals religious and cultural insights in a smart edutaining way. You read. You smile. You learn.
For instance, if you lived in Morocco you wouldn’t be lining up to buy overpriced books tomorrow; you’d be celebrating the Imilchil Wedding Moussem. It’s a three day welcoming back of herders who’ve spent the summer parking their meal tickets in far away grazing grounds. But the fest also “gives singletons the chance to sing, dance and flirt,” says the book. (Dress code: available men wear white turbans; women show off the family silver.) Mass weddings are expected to follow the hook-ups.
And if you’re already dreaming about that Spring break kegger wait until you read about the holiday of Holi in Northern India and Nepal. Holi happens three days around the full moon in March. The rules: you say ‘goodbye’ to winter and ‘hi’ to spring by taking to the streets and dusting yourself and others with a rainbow of day-glo powders. “Authorities urge the use of natural dyes, so they can be easily cleaned off,” the book says. “But you could be a mobile colour chart for days or weeks after.”
The book is full of whole calendars of these festivals, each one nicely summed up in economical pictures and text; each one turning the dry semantics of geography and political science into almost the hottest invite on Saturday night.