Holi announces the passing of winter and arrival of spring, radiating merriment. People meet each other with warm embraces, burying hatchets, and throwing away their worries. During Holi, every corner presents a colorful sight filled with singing, dancing, delicious foods and desserts, and quality time spent with friends and family. This Festival of Color in spring is nature’s way of singing “Holi Hai!”.
From grandparents missing the festivities back home, NRI’s introducing their young children to the festivities, or an American-Indian bringing their Non-Indian co-workers to a holi event, this is one holiday that is enjoyed by all age groups. Over the years, the Holi festival has been mainstreamed and has become a welcoming space for all faiths. This Festival of Colors is often attended and enjoyed by many, including Muslims, Sikh, Mormons, Catholics, and Jews.
Over the last few decades, the Indian population in the U.S. has grown drastically in metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago, San Francisco, San Jose, and D.C. When it comes to Hindu holidays like Diwali, Lohri, or Holi, Indian associations and festival organizers plan colorful, fun-filled events of Indian street food, singing, and choreographed dancing.
Upcoming Holi Celebrations Across the U.S.
The Sri Radha Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah has a two-day festival planned at the end of March where over fifty thousand people are expected to attend, with the majority being non-Hindu participants. Similarly in Texas, the Houston Holi festival will be celebrated with a live Bollywood concert, all day color play, Bollywood and Indian folk dance performances, carnival rides for children, and a foam party. In California, the LA Holi celebration planned for March welcomes spring with a scheduled color throw countdown, yoga lessons, and a live music festival. It is described by some as the “World’s Happiest Transformational Event.”
These upcoming Holi celebrations also incorporate Holi rituals including the burning of wood or lighting of a bonfire called Holika. This is followed by the actual play of colors where people wear white outfits, and take delight in spraying colored water on each other or throwing handfuls of holi color on one another.
Food Served During Holi:
As always, the foodie in me is wondering what delicacies will be served during this colorful festival. The must have beverages include, thandai, made with saffron, almonds, sugar, milk and a variety of herbs, and lassi, a yogurt based drink. Some savory snacks include papri chaat, dahi vaada, and kachori. Papri chaat is made with crispy dough wafers served with chickpeas and boiled potatoes, tamarind chutney and yogurt. Dahi Vaada is prepared by soaking fitters made from lentil, chickpea flour, or potato immersed in yogurt (dahi), topped with cilantro, chili powder, crushed black pepper, chaat masala, cumin, green chilis, or boondi. And lastly, kachoris are lentil-filled pooris or dumplings served with tamarind chutney. To top it off, desserts for the Holi festival include, Gujiya or stuffed dumplings, Malpua- a sweet crepe prepared with a batter of coconut, crushed banana, flour, milk, and cardamom, served with a sugar syrup- and Kesari Malai Peda. Kesari Malai Peda are balls made with cream (malai) or thickened milk, saffron, and cardamom.
Extraordinarily different, a feast of foods, sounds, and colors, there’s nothing quite like India, and there is no better way to experience Indian culture in the United States than to celebrate the Holi festival with the locals. That said, don’t pass up this opportunity of participating in one of the world’s most vibrant festivals and singing “Holi Hai!” no matter where you are.