The 2017 Holi festival, organized by Jersey City’s nonprofit Surati for Performing Arts on April 29, celebrated the essence of spring. Held in the waterfront area of Exchange Place under perfect weather conditions, the 9th Festival of Colors saw its largest turnout this year, with attendees engaging in throwing of bright colored powders, listening and making music, dancing, enjoying food, drink and cultural performances.
Jersey City officials estimated an attendance of almost 8,000 people at the event.
This year the festival was presented by &TV, the City of Jersey City, Hudson County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs and Jersey City Cultural Affairs.
The festivities began at noon and continued up to 8 PM. The event drew people from across the Tri-state. Some of the noted guests included Consul General of India in New York Riva Ganguly Das, the Mayor of Jersey City Steven Fulop, representatives from the office of Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, and Dr. Sudhir Parikh, publisher of Desi Talk and recipient of India’s Padma Shri award.
“We are thrilled to see such a large crowd this year and are thankful for our supporters. Holi is a special festival and we are glad to be able to bring this spirit to Jersey City with dance, music and theatrical performances by different community groups,” Rimli Roy, founder and artistic director of Surati, said.
There were cultural performances by children from the community and Surati students, followed by live music, stand-up comedy and plenty of dance performances. Among them was a thought-provoking theatrical performance by actresses from In Full Color, founded by playwright and director Summer Dawn Hortillosa; some live bands, including a stellar performance by the acoustic band Eventually Epic with vocals by Sachin Premasuthan, that play across a spectrum of musical genres ranging from classic rock to Bollywood beats. The Beacons- a student live band who will soon be travelling to India to raise funds for a cause, also performed.
The Surati touring company opened the show with a medley of classical and folk dance forms to fusion music. There was live music from various communities and genres, solo performers such as the violinist Swapna Patel, vocals by Vidya Jatin Parekh, jazz choreographed by Surati company dancer Paloma De Vega, signature Bollywood routines choreographed by Surati dancers Abhishek Singhania, Reba Browne and Alisha Desai, veena by Gopanand Srinivasarao, vocals by Sujoy Haldar and Indian classical Kathak dance by Milini Vithanalage. Stand-up comedy by Ramki Muthukrishnan added mirth to the event.
A highlight was Surati’s modern dance rendition of Rabindranath Tagore song-dance genre with Western classical ballet, a tribute both to Holi and the Nobel Laureate’s 156th birthday. The performance was a favorite of all those who attended, according to organizers.
Other performing arts schools participating included Navatman from New York City, performing traditional Bharatnatyam, as did students from Calai Chandra School of Bharatnatyam. Children from other local dance schools and community groups also participated.
The Master of ceremonies was actress Nayana Parsatoon and DJ Thomas with Bushwick Sound by Carlos.
The after-party began at 4:30 pm with the live band kicking off the mood for DJ and dancing.