BERNARDS TWP., NJ - The Basking Ridge Indian Community (BRIC)'s version of the Holi Festival of Colors mixed tradition with local style, blending foods and Holi colors with presentations by local students and performers who tossed a lesson on the meaning of Holi and a sample of rap music in the mix.

The local Indian community has been holding a Holi celebration for 15 years, starting out at the The Hills community clubhouse.

But this year, the celebration - which is getting larger in scale - moved to the Oak Street School in downtown Basking Ridge. The entire community was invited to the event held on Sunday afternoon, April 9.

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Not everyone at the festival was Indian. Some other local students and their families wanted to learn about the Holi holiday, join the fun - and eat. A feast of Indian foods, from breads through sweets, was presented between cultural performances and playing Holi.

Presentations of dancing, singing and other performances by students and adults took place on the stage in the Oak Street auditorium, including a lesson for non-Indian participants on meaning of Holi. 

Ridge High School senior Nikhil Akenapalli and Karthik Iyer, a Ridge sophomore, sang a traditional Bollywood number with a sample of rap (original music) thrown in.

Rohan Jinktukar, a Ridge High School sophomore and member of the New Jersey Youth Symphony Orchestra, played viola - and he sang, too, playing Raag Kafi and two Hindi movie songs.

Playing Holi

Presentations and a buffet of Indian food was followed by the main event.

Participants headed outdoors to the school property and - following a spirited dance performance by women from Kavi's School of Dance that drew in the whole crowd - it was time for a game of Holi.

The Festival of Colors includes spreading around some joy - as well as throwing around intensely colored Holi powder that was provided for those who were playing.

The executive committee of BRIC, which presented the festival, included Anita Koppala; Sundari Rao Arni; Deven Shah; Deepesh Jiwani; Kruti Kapadia; Vandana Jain; Reena Singhvi; Ameetha Sankaranarayanan; and Madhavi and Goutham Puppala. 

The emcees for the cultural presentations included Arjun Agarwal; Diya Jain; Rohan Jain; Edwin Pavlovsky; Meghana Gummadi; Nupur Khanvilar; Sohan Choksi; and Siya Saraswat.