Photos by Star Sabroso
The Holi Festival, one of the happiest and most colorful festivals of Hindus, was recently celebrated at SM by the Bay Central Park with more than 2,500 people gathering for the auspicious event.
Ushering in the arrival of spring, the festival widely celebrated in India, Nepal and other Hindu countries, saw its fourth year of celebration in the Philippines organized by Asia Society and SM by the Bay in partnership with the Embassy of India, Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce, Indian Ladies Club and SingIndia Music of the Soul.
Most of the population who joined the festivity are of Indian descent but there were a lot of Filipinos and other nationalities who embraced the celebration and took part in throwing colorful gulal powder at each other, singing and dancing with the crowd. More than just a Hindu celebration, the event turned into one multi-colored race united by love and friendship. “Today, we are not Filipino, Indian, American nor any other nationality,” Indian Ambassador to the Philippines Lalduhthlana Ralte addressed the crowd. “We are all global citizens,” he added, expressing hope that more people would participate in the years to come.
Predominant during the event was pink gulal, and these were splattered on the participants’ faces and bodies as they entered the grounds. As soon as the first color countdown commenced, everyone was barely recognizable from the explosion of colors on their bodies, and the audience bled with bursts of tangerine, blue, and pink until the sunset.
The crowd danced and jumped through traditional folk music – Bhangra and Bollywood music mixed by DJ CJ Wasu. The amped-up members of the crowd threw some of their peers up in the air and some braved the stage to learn some signature dance moves with Samba School Imperatriz Filipinense’s rhythmic drum beats. Asia Society Philippines executive director Suyin Liu Lee, who opened the program, highlighted the importance of interaction and cultural exchange in promoting cooperation and understanding between communities.
Around the event complex, Indian food was offered with servings of chicken tandoori, pani puri, idli sambal and samosas by restaurants that include Kashmir, Bollywood, Royal Indian Curry House, Green Dot, and Saffron Plates. Different nationalities lined up to get traditional Mehndi (henna) tattoos while kids and kids-at-heart indulged their creative energies in creating their own rangoli artwork, a kind of folk art, wherein interesting patterns are filled with colored sand, colored rice, and flower petals, often crafted to celebrate auspicious occasions in India. After the sunset, Holika Dahan or the lighting of bonfire was performed by a Hindu priest while he chanted prayers and encouraged the crowd to throw away their sufferings and sorrows.