For Hindus and Austinites of all ethnic backgrounds, Holi, also known as the Spring Festival or Festival of Colors, celebrates the victory of good over evil and the arrival of the optimistic season of hope and joy. On or around the annual date in Austin, the ancient Hindu ritual is celebrated with festivals where attendees throw colored powder called rang and water on one another. The colorful festival is a creative cultural bridge-builder like few others in the community, representing renewed relationships.
While Holi is celebrated at Hindu temples across the Austin area, the date of the holiday differs year to year in India, where it is scheduled the day after the full moon in March each year. This year Holi is on Thursday, March 24 with Holika Dahan on Wednesday, March 23.
Replicating the style of Holi practiced in the Braj district of India, Radha Madhav Dham’s (400 Barsana Road) celebration is a colorful, playful, family-filled festival. This year, the Holi celebration will take place on Saturday, March 19 from 2-8 p.m. Typically, Radha Mahdav Dham celebrates with a live band singing Holi songs from Braj. Food and game booths open early as well, and the program also features Braj-style Kirtans, cultural programs and a “Holi talk” presented in English. Dinner prasad will follow before an outdoor Holi play, then the traditional Holika fire burning as a reminder that evil always burns in the face of good.
The Austin Hindu and Community Center in East Austin (9801 Decker Lake Rd) will be celebrating Holi on Saturday, March 26 from 12-9 p.m. The program will feature a food mela including Indian cuisine, cultural programs and activities, dance and music, including a DJ, a talent show. Enjoy a holika bonfire, kolatam, rangoli, and Pooja. For the children, look for face painting and balloon twisting, indoor kids’ games and inflatables. The Holi festival of colors features color rain, a water balloon fight, and water guns, with gulal made available to engage the play.
Sri Venkateswara Temple of Austin (2509 West New Hope Drive, Cedar Park) celebrates Holi with a mela on Saturday, March 26 from 3-8:30 p.m. There will be a talent show at the Cultural Hall in the afternoon with Bollywood dances, classical songs, bharatnatyam and more followed by Puja in the courtyard. Holi colors (dry only) will be thrown from 3-5 p.m. in the Sai Temple “roundabout.” Food booths will be open, including dosa stall, mirchi bhaji, chloe bhatura, chat stall, Indian sweets, popcorn, cotton candy and beverages, from 5-8:30 pm. There’ll also be a jump house for the kids.
The UT Hindu Students Association again concludes Austin’s Holi schedule on Sunday, April 3, on the LBJ Library lawn with a free festival open to the public. HSA’s annual affair brings out a large crowd and all are welcome to grab some free rang and participate in traditional games played to the sound of the dhol (traditional drum).
For those ready to welcome in the spring season and better health as the weather changes, not that Holi is believed to combat viral fever and colds. It’s said that the playful throwing of the colored powders has a medicinal significance. Come celebrate what is truly a much anticipated, unique and growing Austin tradition.