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American Holi: Covid Fails to Dampen Holi Masti as Indian Americans Celebrate Festival of Colors

American Holi: Covid Fails to Dampen Holi Masti as Indian Americans Celebrate Festival of Colors

  • Heralding the hopeful end to the pandemic and the onset of spring, desis play holi in parks, backyards and temples.

Despite a looming threat of coronavirus resurgence, Indian Americans got together this past weekend to celebrate Holi, the festival of colors. Many got together with family and friends to mark the advent of spring, as they doused each other with color. Of course, the celebrations were held on a smaller scale, keeping in mind the restrictions on public gatherings. 

Holi celebrations at Mamta and Vinit Thakur’s home in Dayton, New Jersey, March 27. Spring-like weather enabled similar small-scale celebrations across America. Top photo, Sanjay Sharma of Washington, D.C., celebrates Holi with his extended family in Canton, Mich., March 28. 

All across America, spring-like weather prompted many like Mamta Thakur of South Brunswick, New Jersey, to host friends to mark the occasion. Dressed in white, friends gathered in the backyard of their home. In Atlanta, Georgia, Kanaz Kanga and her husband, Aspi Patel hosted a Holi party at their home. 

Vinita Bhutoria of Fremont, Calif., celebrates Holi in her neighborhood on March 28. 

In California, Tinny Juneja and her husband, Vineet, celebrated Holi “with friends in bubble, with social distancing in Fremont, under a blue sky and on green grass and with colorful smiles.”

Bidisha Goswami of Troy, Mich., with her sons, Adwayan and Agastyan.

Similar celebrations were held at home and in local parks. As Bollywood music blasted in the background, Indian Americans danced and doused each other with colors. In the U.S., the festival is more of a social event, where people of all religions come together to celebrate and feast on Holi specialties like ghujiya, bhujiya, malpua, matthi, and puran poli and thandai. 

For many, the weekend coincided with the sat of spring break. Sanjay Sharma from the metropolitan D.C. area, celebrated Holi with family in Canton, Michigan. “Holi celebration with family after decades,” he wrote on his Facebook post. 

Some took a break from large gatherings, but nonetheless got into the festival spirit. Subrat and and Bidisha Goswami of Troy, Michigan, celebrated Holi with their sons, Adwayan and Agastyan. A few took to social media to share photos of past celebrations. For a second consecutive year, people were encouraged to stay at home to avoid turning the festivities into superspreader events amid the latest virus surge.

Top, the Chatrath family at a Holi celebration in Frehold, New Jersey, March 27.
Holi celebrations at Vraj temple in Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
Devotees played color and then participated in the Holika Dahan.

Temples across the country marked the festivities with color playing and Holika dahan. On the eve of Holi, typically at or after sunset, a pyre is lit, symbolizing the victory of good over evil. At Hindu Temple of Metropolitan Washington, in Adelphi, Maryland, devotees walked around the Holika bonfire and marked the occasion. Similar celebrations were held at the Hindu Society of North Carolina, the Vraj temple in Pennsylvania, and the Dwarkadhish temple in Parlin, New Jersey, among others. 

Holi celebrations at Mamta and Vinit Thakur’s home in Dayton, New Jersey, March 27.

The largest Holi celebrations are held each year at the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork, Utah. This year, however, the celebrations are moved to September. “FOC was to have been yesterday and today in Spanish Fork but Health Dept limited to 1,000,” said a Facebook post on March 28.” How do you let 1,000 in and turn 24,000 away. Postponed till September 25,26.” 

Mamta Thakur, second from left, with her husband Vinit, and daughters,
Yashvi, left, and Srishti.

Vice President Kamala Devi Harris took to her social media handles to wish everyone for Holi. “Happy Holi! Holi is best known for vibrant colors that are tossed at friends and loved ones,” she wrote. “Full of joy, Holi is all about positivity, setting aside our differences, and coming together. A message that’s been embodied by communities across the world during these tough times.”

Padma Laksmi highlighted the significance of the festival in today’s political and social context. Sharing a video on her social media handles, she wrote: “Happy Holi everyone!  More than ever before we need a rebirth, a renewal, a chance to begin to heal, to savor what we couldn’t for so long and to start again. Fresh. I hope that everyone is safe, getting vaccinated as soon as possible and can begin to live as we all deserve to.”

Chef Maneet Chauhan.

YouTuber and late night host, Lilly Singh also took to Twitter to wish her followers. “Happy Holi! Show us your colours!,” she captioned a video she posted. 

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Priyanka Chopra celebrated Holi with her husband Nick Jonas and her in-laws in London.  iSharing pictures of herself smeared in colors and holding a color shotgun, she wrote: “Holi, the festival of colors is one of my favorites. Hope we can all celebrate it with our loved ones but in our HOMES! #HappyHoli everyone.” She also shared an old video of her playing Holi with Jimmy Fallon at the “Fallon Night” 

Fallon shared the same video on his Twitter. “Happy Holi!!!” he wrote. 

Above, Shanaz Kanga with her husband, Jamshed Patel, during Holi celebrations
at their home in Atlanta, Ga. Below, Vineet and Tinny Juneja in Fremont, Calif.

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