Happy Holi!

In­dia’s an­nual spring fes­ti­val of col­ors comes to Shang­hai

Global Times – Metro Shanghai - - FRONT PAGE - By Sab­rina Samra

Holi is a spring fes­ti­val cel­e­brated in In­dia, Nepal and now across the world an­nu­ally on the evening of March 12 and the day of the 13th. It is a fes­ti­val of color, love, laugh­ter, fun, spring, hap­pi­ness and vi­brancy.

The cel­e­bra­tions span two days; whereby on the night be­fore a huge bon­fire is lit with re­li­gious rit­u­als be­ing said in or­der to de­stroy all in­ter­nal evils. The next morn­ing is when a huge car­ni­val of col­ors takes place. It’s a fun ac­tiv­ity in which peo­ple chase each other with col­ored wa­ter or pow­dered dyes. The beauty of the fes­ti­val is that ev­ery­one can get in­volved.

As a Bri­tish In­dian in Shang­hai, I nat­u­rally kept my ear out in re­gards to any events for Holi. For­tu­nately, I’m part of an In­ter­na­tional In­dian’s WeChat group which posted about a Holi event be­ing held by Wanna Travel. The event, called the So­cial In­dian Party, took place last week at Ke­babs On The Grille, an In­dian restau­rant near Peo­ple’s Square Sta­tion.

A group of friends and I ar­rived around 7:30 pm. At first there seemed to be no space, chairs or ta­bles for us; but the waiter quickly sorted that out. The venue was nicely dec­o­rated with col­or­ful bal­loons and beau­ti­ful, real flower petals sprin­kled on all the ta­bles. The at­mos­phere was com­pli­mented with In­dian, Hindi, Bol­ly­wood and Pun­jabi Bhangra mu­sic.

The food was nicely laid out in a buf­fet style and a bar was also read­ily avail­able for beer, wine and soft drinks. Though a for­mal, so­cial din­ner like this isn’t the usual way to cel­e­brate Holi, it was re­ally nice to de­vour some scrump­tious In­dian food and meet new peo­ple.

Ex­tra point gained

Lana from Rus­sia, whom I met at the event, said, “I think it at­tracted very friendly peo­ple. For me, the most im­por­tant part (of Holi) is meet­ing new peo­ple. I didn’t re­ally know much about the fes­ti­val be­fore. Maybe I’ll cel­e­brate it again in the fu­ture.”

To add to the col­or­ful theme of Holi, paints were pro­vided for us to put onto our faces. My Chi­nese friend, Layla, said that this was the best part for her. Most peo­ple had at least some color on their face; I, of course, went all out and was cov­ered in col­ors by the end of the evening.

My Chi­nese friend Grace Yi who also at­tended the event, com­mented that, “The best part was that it was my first time cel­e­brat­ing Holi. This event was nice to be in such a lively at­mos­phere and ex­pe­ri­ence some­thing ex­otic. And af­ter a day or two I no­ticed a friend cel­e­brated Holi in In­dia, and he is Chi­nese. In­ter­est­ing to find you had some­thing in com­mon with a not so fa­mil­iar friend and it seems to make you two more close. Ex­tra point gained.”

I no­ticed that there was a lack of in­for­ma­tion given in re­gards to the true mean­ing of Holi, its story and the ori­gin of this col­or­ful fes­ti­val. It’s a shame there was no speech or pre­sen­ta­tion about this, as there were def­i­nitely more non-In­di­ans than In­di­ans at the event.

Bring­ing cul­ture to Shang­hai

The or­ga­nizer, Anas­ta­sia from Wanna Travel, said that, “As a travel com­pany, we are try­ing to bring cul­tural and cui­sine dis­cov­ery to the Shang­hai com­mu­nity, for both ex­pats and lo­cals. We or­ga­nize monthly the­matic so­cial par­ties where par­tic­i­pants can try food and learn some­thing about a new coun­try.”

This month they chose In­dia, with Holi as a per­fect oc­ca­sion for a cel­e­bra­tion. Par­tic­i­pants had a chance to try au­then­tic In­dian food, dance to In­dian mu­sic, en­joy face paint­ing as well as meet new friends from all over the world.

On Satur­day, an­other event held at a com­mu­nity cen­ter in Changn­ing district was ad­ver­tised as “A Taste of Holi” and pro­vided henna tat­toos and Bol­ly­wood danc­ing. Ad­di­tion­ally, on Satur­day evening Bar Rouge had a Bol­ly­wood Holi Fes­ti­val event.

Of course, all these cel­e­bra­tions are in­com­pa­ra­ble to that of In­dia or places like Eng­land and Canada that have a much big­ger In­dian pop­u­la­tion. A friend from Turkey, Furkan Er­do­gan who is study­ing at Fu­dan Univer­sity said dur­ing the event, “This is the first time I’m cel­e­brat­ing Holi. I’d never heard about it. It was good fun.”

Shang­hai re­minds me a lot of Lon­don, but a much big­ger ver­sion. This is due to its city vibe and also due to its in­ter­na­tional ex­pat pop­u­la­tion. Sim­i­lar to Lon­don, there are peo­ple re­sid­ing, work­ing and vis­it­ing Shang­hai from all over the world.

Cour­tesy of Sab­rina Samra Pho­tos:

Peo­ple of vary­ing na­tion­al­i­ties cel­e­brate Holi in Shang­hai.

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