If you see someone walking down the street with colors splat on their face and clothes, make sure to wish them a Happy Holi. The Indian-origin celebration of color, spring, joy and love is coming to Brooklyn this weekend.
With three events, Brooklynites are invited to say farewell to winter and welcome budding blossoms and the spring harvest season. It is all about music, dancing, food and a lot of color powder being thrown in the air. The Brooklyn Children’s Museum is hosting a family-friendly afternoon on April 2, followed by two consecutive parties by event organizer Desi Saturdays, for a 21 and older crowd on April 3 and 9.
The tradition comes from Hinduism and originates in northern India, but has spread to through the world.
“These celebrations are universal,” said Sonali Skandan, artistic director of Jiva Dance, a performing arts company. She was born in India and has been a New York City resident for about 30 years. “A festival of love should bind us together.”
The elements of the festival have various meanings. The color powders come from the legend of dark-skinned god, Krishna — one of the most popular heroes of Hindu mythology— smearing his light-skinned lover Radha with colors so she would look like him. The festival celebrates their eternal love. Each color has a different significance. Blue evokes Krishna, red is the color of purity and love, green means new beginnings and yellow is a nod to tradition, representing turmeric, tied to other celebrations in Southern Asia.
A second legend from scriptures of Hinduism relates the celebration with the triumph of good vs. evil as it tells the story of Hiranyakashipu, the king of the daityas, failing to burn his son Prahlad to death and instead dying himself. The festival occurring as the frigid weather ends symbolizes the opportunity to redeem past errors.
In Indian, people of different ages, gender, and Hindu castes come together during Holi, which gives the celebration a meaning of equality.
Tthe Brooklyn Museum’s celebration on Saturday evening will feature two dance performances followed by workshops, one, Bollywood-style led by Ajna Dance Company. The second, by Jiva Dance Company, will celebrate the showcase and rituals of Holi with Bharatnatyam dance, one of the eight classical dance forms of India. Then, at the museum’s rooftop, there will be beats of the Dhol drums. As it would not be Holi without color powder, DJ Dynamite will play dance music at Brower Park for the showers to start. Tickets are $13 dollars.
On April 3 and 9, slightly older Brooklynites are invited to the annual, often sold-out Holi celebration at Tailgate on 86 North 11th Street. Musical performances, food, and dance will precede the evening’s main event — the rain of the symbolic colored powder. Celebrants are encouraged to wear all-white outfits to let the colors of the powder stand out against their clothes.