In partnership with New Brunswick Cultural Center Inc. and Rutgers Indian Graduate Student Association, the library presented a vibrant, fun-filled celebration of the Indian festival of colors! This program featured music and dance performances, henna, face painting, live Dhol play, sampling of Indian food, and Holi color play! A special feature was the musical dance drama: A Story of Holi, by Navrang Dance Academy. View photos by photographer Mahesh at this link; view photos taken by library staff on our Flickr page. Watch the recording of the event on our YouTube channel.
This project is supported in part by the Middlesex County Board of County Commissioners and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.
Our additional program sponsors include AARP, South Asian Total Health Initiative, New Brunswick Elks Lodge, Navrang Dance Academy, Sowparnika Dance Academy, Sudhamini Dance Academy, Chinmaya Nirtyalaya, Events Now USA, WRSU 88.7 FM Rutgers Radio, and TV ASIA.
Holi has been celebrated in India for centuries, going back to the 4th century CE. It is celebrated on the day after the last full moon of the Hindu month of Phalguna. Phalguna falls between late February and early March. Known as the festival of colors, Holi celebrates the arrival of spring and thanksgiving for a good harvest. In 2021, Holi begins March 28.
Holi helps to bring the society together and strengthen our country. This festival is also celebrated by non-Hindus, as anyone can be part of this colorful and joyous festival. The tradition during Holi is that even enemies turn friends and forget any hardship that may be present. During Holi there is no difference between rich and poor, everyone celebrates the festival with a spirit of friendliness and brotherhood. On the evening of Holi, people visit friends and family. They exchange gifts, sweets, and greetings. This helps in renewing relationships and strengthening emotional bonds between people. The festival of Holi is predominantly a festival of fun.
The name Holi comes from “Holika”, the sister of demon King “Hiranyakashyap” There are different versions of Holi’s origin. One popular version of the story is that Holi celebrates the Hindu god Krishna and the legend of Holika and Prahlad. In this story the evil king Hiranyakashipu became so powerful that he forced his kingdom to worship him as their god. Even though the king forced everyone to worship him, his son Prahlada continued to be an avid devotee of the Hindu deity Lord Vishnu. The angry king conspired with his sister, Holika, to kill his son. Holika was immune to fire. She tricked Prahlada to sit in a pyre with her. When the pyre was lit, the boy’s devotion to Lord Vishnu helped him walk away unharmed while Holika burned to death despite her immunity. This is the victory of good versus evil. [Source: https://www.holifestival.org/legend-holika-prahlad.html]
Our library's Holi Festival has received several recognitions, and it has been named as one of the top 10 places to celebrate Holi festival in the world!
New Brunswick Free Public Library was selected as a winner of the 2018 Multicultural Program Award. According to the New Jersey State Library, the Multicultural Award “recognizes library programs that increase understanding and promote diversity and multiculturalism in New Jersey’s libraries. The ultimate goal of the program is to share the libraries’ programs as models for inspiration and adaptation by other libraries.”
Thank you to all who helped with the success of previous years' festivals!
View our Flickr album for the 2022 festival here. View our Flickr album for the 2022 virtual painting workshop here.
In 2021, we held a Virtual Holi Festival, which you can watch on YouTube here.