Indian Holi festival brings splash of colors to Taipei

Over 800 people took part in colorful Holi festival in New Taipei City

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(Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- This past Saturday (March 3), more than 800 people gathered in Luguanghe'an Park in New Taipei City's Yonghe District to celebrate the coming of spring with the Indian festival of Holi.

In explaining the Indian festival, Rajan Khera, the President of Indian Cultural Committee of Taipei (ICCT) said, "Holi is an Indian festival, festival of colors. On this day, we hug each other, our friends [and] our enemies. This day, everyone forgets everything and forgive everybody."

The Holi festival is more than fun with colors and music. The owner of Mayur Indian Kitchen restaurants and one of the event organizers, Mayur Srivastava, said that Holi is connected to their Indian traditions. “Because many of the farmers… have their farming ready and they cut it at this time…Whatever is leftover, they make (the colorful) powder, (called Gulal)." Then, after the harvesting, everyone joins together and celebrates with the exchange of sweets and and gathering with others, said Srivastava.

Today in Taiwan, after the tragic dust explosion at Formosa Fun Coast in 2015, Gulal in a powder form is no longer permitted. As a replacement, organic and skin-friendly, water-based paints are used for the event.

This year’s 8th Annual Holi Festival provided locals and foreigners alike with a family-friendly event full of music, food, and colorful fun. Local Indian restaurants, including Amma’s Kitchen, Mayur Indian Kitchen, the Thali, Tandoor Indian Restaurant, and 3 Idiots: Toast and Curry, just to name a few, served traditional Indian food, such as Aloo Bonda, a Punjabi-style deep fried potato dumpling with lemon rice and Chana Masala (chickpeas in seasoned curry).

In addition, there were live performances and live music provided by a Bollywood-style DJ. For those looking to release some tension, the India Cultural Arts Exchange Center provided free back and knife massages.

As the festival has grown over the years, it is important to remember the reasons to celebrate Holi; it is more than just fun with colors. Srivastava comments that "we exchange our culture, we tell them what is Holi…it’s not only dance party with colors. There is one special thing about Holi: when you party, your face is colored and smeared with powder. There is no racism; there is no black and white…Everyone looks the same. So this is a festival which brings everyone together under one spot.”

The ICCT President describes “ Indian culture always teaches people to be closer and friendly and forgive everybody.”

Khera encourages people to “come and enjoy. We don’t keep (any bad thing) in heart [during this time]. So we want this kind of festival.”

Srivastava adds, “That’s why we also feel this is a festival which we can share with the rest of the world and let (everyone) feel we are all same; we are all one.”

If you missed Taipei’s colorful festival, there are two more Holi Festival celebrations this Saturday, March 10th in both Taoyuan (Yuan Ze University) and Hsinchu. Proceeds from the events will help benefit university’s Indian culture student groups at YZU (Taoyuan) and NTHU and NCTU (both in Hsinchu).

Information for both events can be found on ICCT’s facebook page.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Mayur Indian Kitchen MIK-3 location (Xingsheng N. Road), or on the day of the event.