Holi is the South Asian spring “festival of colors” or “festival of love.” It celebrates how love triumphs over evil.
According to tradition, the dark-skinned Krishna wanted his light-skinned lover Radha to look like him, so he playfully smeared her with colors. It’s such a fun festival, that South Asians and many peoples around the world celebrate.
Holi NYC 2023
Holi 2023 is Wednesday, March 8, 2023.
Holi NYC 2022
New York City opened up, but there weren’t any big Holi celebrations this year.
Holi NYC 2021
There has been a Holi Hai festival on Governors Island (nycholi.com). The last was in 2018. It is not happening this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is also usually a Festival of Colors in Bushwick, Brooklyn.
You can still celebrate from home. All you need is love. #NYCHoli
Holi, the Hindu Spring Festival
To the Hindu faithful, Holi symbolizes the divine love of Krishna and Radha and the triumph of good over evil.
The power of love and the triumph of good over evil are themes in many winter-spring traditions around the world.
Celebrations begin on the eve of Holi traditionally around a bonfire. The faithful pray that their own evil character will be destroyed in the fire in the same way the demon Holika was destroyed by fire.
The day of Holi is the festival of colors. There is lots of drumming, singing and dancing. People wear white and throw powdered colors, and with permission, smear colors on each other too. There is also lots of water play.
According to tradition, the dark-skinned Krishna wanted his light-skinned lover Radha to look like him, so he playfully smeared her with colors. What a beautiful story. It’s very easy to see a loving couple playing like that.
The colors have traditional meanings. Blue represents Krishna. Interestingly, that light blue is also the color of the first layer of the human aura. Red represents purity and love. Green represents new beginnings and the yellow represents the turmeric spice which was traditionally used in Holi celebrations. It’s also one of the flavors in many good curries.
Like many winter festivals and Carnival, Holi is a reversal festival when social hierarchies and rules are relaxed. Farming cultures require everyone to work in summer and fall, so things can relax in winter and spring.
Hindus in the Latin World
New York City has a large Indian diaspora.
The Latin world absorbs South Asian traditions through the English-speaking countries of the Caribbean, especially Trinidad and the culturally-related countries of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.
South Asians came to the Caribbean as indentured workers after human slavery ended in the British Caribbean (1834-38 and beyond).
So Latins are South Asian too! Like New York City, we are a little of everyone.