Celebrating Holi in the U.S.
Holi is a Hindu festival celebrating the start of spring. Many people celebrate it worldwide, a national holiday in India. This year, it fell on March 8th, so we are focusing on it in our blog this month to give you some ideas about how you might incorporate it into your family’s traditions. Last week, we heard from Reena Kurapati, who was born in India but lives in the U.S. now. She shared her memories of this holiday as a child in India.
Now, we’d like to share how a few families who have adopted through our India program celebrate the holiday here in the U.S. to connect with their children’s Indian culture.
The Gant Family
“We celebrate Holi by throwing colored powder on each other and having a large Indian feast with our close friends and family. Before we throw the colors, we dress up in our favorite traditional Indian clothing and take pictures and read stories about Holi.”
The Gordon Family
“Our family celebrates Holi by cooking and eating Indian food for dinner. Rice and dal is a favorite dish, and we love all types of Indian sweets! We usually wear traditional Indian clothes while we eat. We also enjoy throwing gulal, the colored powder. For this, we try to wear white outfits so the vibrant colors will show up against our clothes. We have several children’s books about Holi that we like to read to remind our boys about the festival and how it’s celebrated in India. Sometimes we celebrate with extended family and friends, and other times it’s just the four of us in our immediate family. Either way, we always have a lot of fun!”
The Hebert Family
“We have celebrated in a variety of ways. Living in a cold weather climate means we sometimes need to get creative; one year, we stayed inside and did sand art, and another year, we threw powders in our basement. Last year we had warm enough weather that we were able to celebrate outside in a more traditional way. When we have snow, we paint the snow with chalk and have a colored snowball fight!
“We live close to family who is always eager to learn more about our son’s culture, so all of our celebrations have also included family and Indian food.”
Honoring Their Christian Values
We know a Christian family may feel unsure about celebrating another religion’s holiday, and we certainly don’t want to suggest anyone who feels conflicted about a specific holiday should incorporate it into their family’s traditions. We value that every family who adopts from another country has a different way of bringing the culture into their family while also upholding their Christian faith.
However, we think it’s possible to celebrate the holiday apart from its religious significance. Binoj Phillip, who grew up in a Christian family in India, says he never celebrated the holiday with his family, but it was something he did with his friends as a child. “I was never aware that Holi had any religious significance for the Hindus. It was just a fun-filled event.”
In addition, some families even find ways to align the holiday with their Christian beliefs. For example, Ginny Gordon says, “Instead of focusing on the specific stories that Hindus relate to Holi, we choose to focus on the themes of Holi and how those apply to us as followers of Jesus. We use Holi as a time for our family to mark the beginning of spring when color comes back to the earth through God’s creation. We celebrate God’s eternal love for us and strive to show our love for others intentionally. We remember that Jesus embodies the victory of good over evil for the whole world.”
Christine Hebert echoes these thoughts. “We have taken the opportunity to celebrate holidays such as Holi (and Diwali) to celebrate and learn more about Indian culture. In our house, we focus mainly on the cultural celebrations and talk with our son about his birth culture. As he gets older, we will talk more about the spiritual aspect of these holidays and how similar messages, such as friendship and forgiveness, are tenets of our own faith.”
So, if you want to celebrate Holi with your family, we hope these ideas help! Thank you to all of the families who shared their experiences with us!