SUMMIT, NJ - The Holi Color Festival, an ancient Hindu religious holiday celebrating good triumphing over evil and representing the beginning of spring, the joy of friendship and equality for all, is coming back to Summit's Village Green for the second consecutive year on June 2, from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m.
The Festival, part of the Summit Area YMCA furthering its stated commitment to create a culture in which "diversity and inclusion are integral to its everyday operations," will see local folks celebrating the holiday in much the same fashion as people from all over the world -- children dousing elders with water, and women splashing men with color while dancing, singing and feasting.
The Holi Color Festival is part of the Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation (DIG) Network, in which the Summit Area YMCA belongs. The Diversity, Inclusion and Global Innovation Network is committed to providing programs, events and services to the community that are welcoming to people from all nationalities, cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds. The Summit Area YMCA and DIG have collaborated on several special events, including a Diwali Festival in November, Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Community in January and the Lunar New Year Festival in February.
Each color splashed at the Festival carries a meaning: Red symbolizes love and fertility; yellow is the color of turmeric, a powder native to India and used as a natural remedy; blue represents the Hindu God Krishna; and green is for new beginnings.
People of all nationalities and ethnicities are encouraged to participate in this highly energetic and fun event , and there will be a host of traditional accompanying activities -- including Masala Bhangra Dancing, a DJ playing Bollywood Music -- joining the signature element -- the throwing of color. Gulal, a non-toxic colored power made from eco-friendly and biodegradable corn starch/rice flour, will be used.
Indian food will also be available for purchase.
The event is free, with colors are available for purchase. Dressing in white is recommended.
Urvashi Patel, who organized the first Holi Color Festival for the YMCA and will do so again this year, said, "When I came to Summit in 2010, I met a few Indian families. To connect within our community, we would go to neighboring towns like New Providence, Short Hills-Millburn and Livingston to celebrate traditional festivals," adding, "I recognized that there was a need for an event where I could bring not only Indian community together, but have others recognize our tradition and celebrate with us. I work for the Summit Area YMCA, an organization whose mission and cause is to strengthen the community through welcoming and inclusive practices, and providing programs and services that can educate and heighten understanding of various cultures."
During and after the 2017 event, Patel says she was told "by many in attendance that they had never been to such an event before." A crowd of approximately 250 people attended, exceeding Patel's expectations of 60-80.
"I had people come up to me and tell me that they came from as far as Jersey City, some from Morris Plains, Montclair and a few other neighboring towns," said Patel. "We had food being catered from our local Indian restaurant. It was a beautiful day and a lot of people wore white to the festival which made the thrown color powder on participants even more outstanding in photographs. I felt so happy and so much satisfaction, and it felt like it was truly bringing the community together for a good cause."