Happy Holi, everyone!
Today, we celebrate Holi, the ancient Hindu festival also known as the “Festival of Colors” or the “Festival of Love.” Holi celebrates the arrival of the colorful spring season and is a time for all to come together. To learn more about this vibrant holiday, we asked three cast members to share about Holi, what it means to them, and their favorite traditions.
Meera Patel, Health Services Manager
To me, Holi marks the beautiful arrival of the Spring season based on the Indian (luni-solar) calendar. It is a symbolic bidding farewell to things that do not serve us, or the community at large, such as anger, greed, jealousy, and ego. It is a reminder to “color” my life with virtues so that I can thrive physically, mentally, and spiritually. During the celebration, you can find traditional snacks in our ghar mandir (at-home temple) such as dates, and popcorn seasoned with turmeric, black pepper, cumin, and salt.
My family and I celebrate in conjunction with the community at the BAPS Swaminarayan mandir, a Hindu temple located in Chino, California, to commemorate traditional stories associated with Holi. The vibrance and atmosphere all around are my favorite part of Holi! A fun fact about Holi is that the day after is known as Pushpadolotsav, which means “Festival of Flowers.” One fond memory is that I had the opportunity to celebrate this festival traditionally in the presence of my guru, Mahant Swami Maharaj, on a grand scale with saffron colored water spraying from large decorated pichkaris (water instruments) in 2018.
Vidhi Joshi, Undergraduate Finance Associate
I see Holi as a time of celebration of new beginnings with vibrant colors. It’s a time where you get to gather with friends and family, meet new people, and have fun playing and tossing colors. It’s like a friendly snowball fight but with all ages and colored powder!
Holi is celebrated to represent the triumph of good over evil and to forget and forgive. It’s a time where you can reach out to anyone and reconnect. It’s a time where you can be silly and be yourself. I love to celebrate with friends, family, and cousins at the beach here in OC. I also visit the temple since they have ceremonies and Holi celebrations. We usually end the night with dinner filled with Indian food and sweets such as Gujiya (deep fried pastries), Ras Malai (creamy milk paneer balls), and Kheer (sweet rice pudding).
My parents grew up in Gujarat, India and it’s always enjoyable to hear their stories of playing Holi during their childhood. I’m glad I get to share this tradition with my family. During their childhood, they would learn the stories of why Holi is celebrated in school and their town’s streets would be filled with colored powder. They were allowed to prank anyone and there were no rules on that day! Anyone could toss the color. I hope to visit India and experience it myself someday!
Priya Yallapantula, Sr Product Manager
As a kid, Holi was one of my favorite days. We could get messy with colors all over ourselves to our heart’s content, and no one would say anything. As an adult, my favorite thing about Holi is still getting colors on me!
One of my annual traditions is to host a potluck for around 25-30 family members at my home. We meet around 2 o’clock, and we take about three hours to play with dry colors. Then, everyone will clean up and change into traditional Indian clothes. We’ll gather again around 6 o’clock and the party continues, and it’s feast time! The evening is all about sitting together, having fun, music, dancing, and food!
Enjoying traditional Indian cuisine is a big part of the gathering and something I look forward to each year. Since I host the celebration, I start preparing 2-3 days in advance! These days, Holi is more about preparing and sharing food with friends and family. When we were kids, mom was the one who would prepare and all we would do is eat, but now making and sharing your favorites is a big aspect of it. Some of my favorites are all the sweet foods, including gujiya, which is like an empanada, a pastry filled with coconut, nuts and other sweets, and then deep fried. I also love kathal, a curry made with jackfruit, and malpua, which is like a pancake, but fried.
Another great aspect of Holi is the friendliness. Holi is a day when people unite and forget any resentments or animosities. You can reach out to anyone, even your enemies to extend an olive branch! On Holi, you can visit anyone without being invited. You don’t need an invitation to go to your neighbor’s place, so you can go and put color on them and give them sweets, and get sweets from them.