There are very few things so satisfying as watching seasons change. When winter melts from the gray and chill, transforming into bright green and bloomy springtime, much of nature has reason to rejoice.
Humans, too, tend to enjoy a great excuse to celebrate the coming of warmer, brighter days, making the timing of the Indian festival Holi particularly fortuitous. Each year, around the beginning of the springtime, Holi kicks into high gear with an inclusive celebration of colors, spring, and love.
Holi traces its roots back to descriptions found in ancient Indian texts. It is thought to be one of the oldest festivals and even garnered a mention in the 7th Century work Rathavali by the ancient king Harshad.
The event honors the Indian god Krishna, one of the most popular and worshipped deities. The story of Holi points to Krishna’s youth, where one of his naughtier pastimes was throwing water and bright colors on the girls of his village. Eventually, others got hip to the game and threw water at each other, and thus, Holi commenced.
In the modern-day U.S.A., Krishna remains a beloved and revered deity, but his sport has evolved some. These days, crowds from all walks of life gather to celebrate Holi. The bells and whistles may differ by location, but the key goal at any Holi celebration is to throw the colorful powder called Gulal at one another. The ritual is in honor of the love between Krishna and Radha, and is said to represent the colors of the coming spring season.
Ultimately, the ritual aims to leave everyone covered in bright colors and having a wonderful time. If you are heading out of town to celebrate Holi, the first thing you’ll want to do is make sure you have booked an affordable vacation rental. And the second? Pack all white items or things that you don’t mind getting socked with bright colors.
Here are some places you should check out for the upcoming Holi festivities.
Billed as the biggest Holi celebration in the United States, the lawn at Houston’s West Oaks Mall will be transformed on March 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. as it serves as the backdrop for an outdoor Holi festival. In addition to the throwing of the colors, those who come to partake of the festivities can expect plenty of events to keep them occupied including a live Bollywood concert, Bollywood and Indian folk dancing, ceremonial prayers for world peace, a parade of rickshaws, and free carnival rides. Advance tickets for the festival currently sell for $10 on its website.
A festival of colors and love will be on March 28 at the town’s Phinney Center. Although it started in 2018 and it’s newer than the others on the list, this festival is noteworthy nonetheless. The celebration was started by a local resident looking for a fun way to share her culture with others. This year, event participants are invited to join together for a celebration of spring, connection, and the triumph of good over evil. Guests will also have the opportunity to make Krishna proud and chase one another with colorful powder. The event will also feature food trucks, entertainment, and other activities.
On April 5, the largest Holi event in New England kicks off in the nearby town of Holbrook, Massachusetts. Hosting the event is the local Braj Mandir Hindu Temple, which invites participants to “be respectful, creative, open-minded, caring, friendly, and sharing your inner-self while playing just like children.”
Events start at 9 a.m. and promise to bring out inner peace alongside one’s inner child. In addition to a vegetarian lunch for 3,000, there will be music, dance performances, and dramatic performances. The event also includes Kirtan, which is Sanskrit for the narrating, reciting, telling, or describing of an idea or story, which will be sung using instruments from around the world, and of course, there will be the throwing of the colors.
For the over 21 crowds, Saturdays in March belong to Holi celebrants at the club Stage 48 on 48th Street in Manhattan. The party billed as the “happiest day party in New York City,” kicks off with a brunch event and continues throughout the day into the night.
During the course of the party, the venue will bring a variety of musical acts and different kinds of food, and there will be plenty of booze on hand as well. Afternoons at this party are solely dedicated to the art of messy fun with bright colors, making the Holi circle a complete one at this club.
While other places on the list can rightly boast about the size of their festivals, none of them have New Brunswick beat when it comes to the size of their Indian community. New Brunswick has the distinction of being home to the largest Indian population in the country, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that Holi is a serious cause to celebrate in the town.
March 28 marks the 11th annual festival, which is part of a collaboration between the Rutgers Indian Graduate Association and the New Brunswick Cultural Center. Festivities kick off at noon and culminate with a throwing of the colors on the front lawn of the New Brunswick Free Public Library. While partaking, guests can expect dance performances, henna, raffles, activities for children, and plenty of great food.