The Allegany Hindu Society’s Holi Festival

So this past Sunday, February 28th, 2010, I was assigned by the OTH to cover the Allegany Hindu Society’s Holi Festival celebration. Having absolutely no clue what that was, I attempted at a little online research. The official site,, was rather overwhelming (Though the photos are fabulous), so I checked it out on wiki…

Basically, was the Holi Festival commemorates the harvest of the winter crops as it welcomes the beginning of Spring. But it also has two other purposes: 1. It’s meant to expel any enmities or bad feelings you have for another, and start with a clean slate and 2. To recognized the victory of good over evil.

There’s this mythological story that goes along with it. It tells the tale of an arrogant king who believed he could not be killed. The king’s son, however, does various things to try and help his father see good. His efforts are in vain though, and the king orders to have his son burned. The King has his son sit the in lap of his sister, Holika, who is immune to fire. However, the King’s son lives and Holika does not.

Therefore, the victory of good over evil.

So what do they do to celebrate it? Well, here are some of the photograph I took:

First, they start off with a prayer, and according to one of the attendants I inteviewed, they pray to the God of Fire. Then, they eat, which is apparently also a very important part of the festival. A majority of the dishes are very sweet Hindu dishes, some of which are unique to the event. I did try some – though I have no idea what it was- and honestly I’ve never tasted anything like it.

So after the meal, they then take up an array of colored powders in vibrant pinks, purples, oranges, reds and so forth, and color one another with them.

The energy and life in this ritual is so natural, it’s truly hard to illustrate in words. It really is a very unique festival, and a very special experience. It’s recognized by many faiths, including Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs, Jains and others, and is observed in many countries, including India, Nepal, Srilanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and in countries with large Indic populations, such as the USA. This year’s Holi celebration in NYC is this upcoming Sunday, March 7. If it’s a warm day, they are expecting that 25,000 people may join the 2010 parade. Now imagine what India would be like.

The Allegany Hindu Society’s celebration of Holi was only on a small scale, but I certainly got a taste of the Holi festival experience.

It’s also worth mentioning that typically: when I’m shooting I prefer not to be acknowledged (for the most part). Especially for things like this, I’d rather get them doing what they do naturally, but a few of the attendants decided I needed color as well.

Honestly, I had a lot of fun, and I feel like it made them more comfortable as well, rather than having this random chick there photographing and video taping everything.
After which though, I pressed my face to the viewer and when I pulled back, had the imprint of nose on my screen. It all came off pretty easy, but I was cautious after that!

I hope you enjoyed this entry! For the corresponding OTH story (which I had a byline for!) Please click the following link, and scroll all the way to the bottom!

In addition, here is the video I put together!

❤ B.Marie


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