Raised Christian, I believed Easter was the kick-off of spring. After I became the token goy of a Torah study in Manhattan, I switched my spring allegiance to Passover. Then, long story short, St. Patrick's Day. Now, after half a century, I have found the real beginning of spring: the Indian holiday of colors now celebrated across New York City: Holi.
Last week, Holi was celebrated in Brooklyn, Queens, and Manhattan, including Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza at the United Nations. But nowhere was it celebrated with more passion and excitement than at the South Street Seaport.
Hundreds of people from all over the tri-state area boarded the 377-foot, docked Peking Ship at Pier 16 of the South Street Seaport. For the fourth year, IN Group, along with the Seaport Museum New York, hosted "Rang Barse on Peking Ship" against the awesome backdrop of Wall Street and the Brooklyn Bridge.
People rejoiced by throwing colored powder on each other, while the Bollywood beats of D.J. Jay Dabhi encouraged people, including this writer, to show off their dance moves. Two dance companies, Dhoonya Dance Group and Bollywood Axion, entertained the crowds with special Holi dance routines, and a traditional Indian dhol (drum) player added his own rhythm to the festivities.
"People came in as strangers and left as friends," says Rohika Hardas of IN Group. "And that's the mission of IN Group's events. We want to create a sense of community and cultural pride, while allowing people to enjoy themselves and 'literally' add a little color to their lives."
Tickets were completely sold out the week leading up to this fun event. The $60 ticket price included traditional Indian food, two cocktails, unlimited colored powder, and the best of South Asian entertainment.
Holi in New York is a time to bond with friends and family. Like St. Patrick's Day, it offers all the beer you can drink. Like Easter, it is particularly colorful. Except instead of painting eggs, the revelers paint themselves -- and each other.
Mine is the quintessential New York City family: I moved here 28 years ago from Japan, my adopted son 16 years ago from Indonesia, and my partner six years ago from Singapore. We, like all New Yorkers, form an American Family. Our family loves Holi.
I believe in the next ten years, Holi will be New York's most popular spring celebration. I look forward to celebrating it here with my family for generations to come!
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