Biggest Holi Festival in the USA
The 10th annual Houston Holi: FESTIVAL OF COLORS 2017 is the largest HOLI celebration in the USA attracting over 15,000 revelers each year. It will be held on Saturday March 25, 12 - 5pm at the Houston Farm & Ranch, a sprawling natural indoor/outdoor park near I-10 & Hwy 6.
Houston Holi 2017 highlights include all day Color Throwing, Music Festival with Live Singers, DJs spinning Bollywood & EDM, Cultural Performances, Foam Dance, Free Carnival Rides, and Ceremonial Holi lighting & Puja to invocate blessings from the Hindu gods. The festival will be teaming with Indian merchandise and a delicious Indian street food festival. This is a family friendly event and Everyone is Welcome. Please wear white clothing that you’re not afraid to get colored. The herbal color powder is skin-safe and will be available at the festival for a nominal cost. For those of you that are not particularly excited about having color all over your body, there is a color free zone where food booths are located. The Kids Rides & Carnival area is also a color free zone.
Houston Holi is organized by Masala Radio, Tara Energy & Star Plus India – one of the largest TV channels in the world for Indian entertainment. Our supporting non-profit community organizations are Gujarati Samaj of Houston, India Culture Center and Hindus of Greater Houston. Houston Holi is hosted by Sunil Thakkar, host of Masala Radio and comedian from the reality TV show “Great Indian Laugher Challenge”. Sunil was recently featured on CNN’s show ‘Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown’ talking about the positive influence of Indian culture in Houston’s diversity.
What is Holi?
TRADITIONAL HOLI IN INDIA
Holi is an ancient Hindu festival that celebrates the coming of spring and the rebirth of nature. It is also known as the festival of colors or the festival of love. People chase and color each other and throw water filled balloons on unsuspecting neighbors. Everyone is fair game, friend or stranger, rich or poor, children and elders. The color play occurs in communities, open streets, parks and temples. Friends & family meet to color each other as a symbol of love. This is also a day to forget and forgive and mend broken relationships. Ladies prepare snacks like gujiya, malpua and other vegetarian delicacies. Men make Bhang, a sweet drink made with milk, sugar, cinnamon, and herbs, a traditional drink of the Holi festivities. People sing and dance, some playing drums and dholak. In the evening a bonfire is lit and a Hindu priest performs Pooja to bless everyone.
The festival date varies each year as per the Hindu calendar but is usually in the first few weeks of March. In recent years the festival has spread to Europe and North America. However, in the course of history it has acquired more social and religious significance as the legends over its origin grew.
LEGEND OF HOLIKA
Legends say that Holi takes its name from the evil Holika, sister of Hiranyakashyap, the king of the demons. The demon king’s son Prahlad was a devotee of Lord Vishnu and Hiranyakashyap could not tolerate this. The demon king demanded that his son acknowledge him as a god and bow to him, but Prahlad’s faith in Lord Vishnu could not be swayed. When his attempts were met with failure Hiranyakashyap decided to kill his son. He asked Holika, who could set fire to anything or anyone she touched, to grab Prahlad and burn him to death. As Prahlad entered the fire he kept chanting prayers to Lord Vishnu to save him. In response, Lord Vishnu reversed Holika’s magical flame, causing her to be consumed in her own fire. For this reason people gather around the Holi bonfires burning the effigy of Holika, celebrating the victory of Good over Evil.
RADHA & KRISHNA
The other legend talks about the immortal love between Radha and the Hindu God Krishna. Krishna was a prince and Radha was the daughter of a shepherd. They were childhood friends and grew up playing on the streets of Mathura. When he was a teenager, Krishna’s concern about the color of his dark skin grew and he wondered whether the fair-skinned Radha would still like him. One day his mother asked him to put color on Radhas face, suggesting to him that their differences were only superficial. Fascinated by the idea, Krishna playfully colored himself and Radha with different colors, giving birth to their love and the tradition of Holi. Once colored, they were the same. No rich or poor, no fair or dark, no king or commoner. All that remained was the feeling of love and togetherness. This is why at Holi, people play with colors, promoting peace, tolerance, and a sense that we are all one.