🌈 Holi: The Celebration of Diversity & Joy

Today millions, particularly in the South Asian community, mark the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil with one of the most vibrant and joyous festivals – the Festival of Holi! Holi looks like crowds of people celebrating on the streets, armed with colored powders and water and ready to drench one another in every color. More importantly, the celebration transcends social barriers, bringing people of all ages, genders and backgrounds together.

We sat down with colleagues from member organization South Asian Network, Ilesha Gupta, an outreach specialist, and Sirat Kaur, a community organizer, to learn more about Holi and its significance in the South Asian community.

How did you celebrate growing up and how do you celebrate it now?

Ilesha: “Growing up, it was a family affair so, after having children of my own, it’s even more important to educate them on this part of their culture. We usually go to a friend’s house – we never host Holi, otherwise our house would get trashed!”

Sirat: “In my family, playing Holi wasn’t that big of a deal and, when I was little, I was just scared of pranks with permanent colors. But, after coming to the U.S. for school, I had the chance to play amongst friends in the diaspora and felt connected to my culture away from home.”

How does Holi bring peace and hope in your life given the work that you do and the current state of the world?

Ilesha: “Holi is an opportunity to find and hold joy even in the midst of grief. I never see anybody angry at Holi, people open up and have conversations they wouldn’t usually have with people they wouldn’t usually talk to.”

Sirat: “It is one day where people can come together, break bread and feel a little lighter afterward! The feeling of belonging and power building is everything that community organizers like us stand for and, with elections coming up, it’s a great way for us to have those conversations with our South Asian community.”