Celebrating Holi is one of our favorite Indian holidays. The yearly festival was the highlight of the spring for our family and so many in India. In our 8+ years in Mumbai, we never missed one Holi. This was one Indian tradition I felt we had to continue even after moving to the US.
Holi, also known as the festival of colors, is a Hindu holiday, but is celebrated widely in India and Nepal. In Mumbai, the entire city would practically shut down for the main day of Holi. It didn’t matter if you were rich or poor, Hindu, Christian or Muslim, Holi seemed to be the one holiday that could bring everyone together in a colorful day of celebration. Residents of some buildings would hire water tanker trucks to spray water down from the roof simulating rain, in other areas, neighborhood kids filled balloons with water joyfully tossing them at people walking by, while others would hold small celebrations within their families, carefully touching color on one each other’s cheeks. No matter how it is celebrated it is a great way to welcome the coming spring.
Our first year in LA coincided with the first year of the Festival of Colors celebration. This is a family friendly event providing attendees a mellow version of how Holi is celebrated in India. The color powder used is non-toxic and organic (made of cornstarch), which makes it safe for children of all ages. There are two stages with live and DJ music, yoga demonstrations, hourly color throws and people cheerfully throwing color powder on their friends and strangers alike. Go early or late to avoid the crowds. If you have never celebrated Holi, this is a good opportunity to celebrate it without having to travel 10,000 miles!
After 4 years in Norfolk, the Festival of Colors is moving to Whittier Narrows Park. Address, date and times given below.
Date & Time: Saturday March 11, 2017 11 am – 4 pm
Address: Whittier Narrows Park, The Meadows
750 S. Santa Anita Avenue
South El Monte, CA 91733
Cost: $5 (online in advance) (kids 12 & under free)
Parking: Organizers say that parking is plentiful, however the festival is being held in a new area this year, so I cannot confirm exactly where the best place to park is! Just be courteous to the neighborhood and try not to block anyone’s driveway.
What to Wear: White! All white if you can manage. The colors show up well on white, which makes for great photos. Be aware that even though the color is safe, it does not always come out of everything. Our Holi clothes have always fared well, but some undergarments have not, so plan accordingly while getting dressed! Also remember any shoes, hats, or bags you wear might be colored for a while.
What to Bring: It gets hot in Whittier, so remember to lather up in sunscreen (before you arrive!) and wear hats. Cover your seats in plastic or towels. It is also helpful to bring a change of clothes. The event does not allow water throwing, so you will be dry, but it is still a process to get all of the color out of your hair, ears, and folds of your clothes. A ziplock bag with a handkerchief or small towel that can be used when/if color gets in someone’s eyes is useful just in case. Also pack a few wet wipes in a ziplock in case you need to clean your hands quickly. It is difficult to clean a child’s eye out when your hands are covered in colored powder! If you bring a camera (besides a camera phone), you can wrap it in plastic with only the lens glass out of the plastic.
Food: Stalls are set up with an assortment of food for purchase. Many take credit cards, but bring plenty of cash just in case.
Colors: No outside color is allowed. Color packets can be purchased as you enter – 1 bag for $3 or 4 bags for $10. You will want several I assure you!
Precautions: Although this is a safe event for kids, the air can become full of dust at times. For those with sensitivities or allergies, considering staying out of the center area during color throws as well as using a bandana to cover your nose/mouth. Sunglasses and goggles are also useful to help prevent dust from getting in the eyes. Lastly, there is live music which can be loud, making sound canceling headphones useful for those with sensitive ears.
Hope to see you out there!
If you are feeling nervous about celebrating Holi in public, have your own party instead.
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