Surati Holds 13th Annual ‘Holi Hai Color Walk and Festival’

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Color Countdown for Holi Hai celebrations by Surati for the Performing Arts, at Exchange Place, Jersey City, Sept. 25, 2021. Photo courtesy Paul Martin via Surati.

On a crisp, perfect fall day, Surati for Performing Arts hosted its 13th Annual ‘Holi Hai Color Walk and Festival’ where hundreds gathered at Jersey City’s City Hall to start the festivities.

The day began with participants throwing colored powder and being entertained by performances and dances.

Following that, accompanied by drummers Ngor Jallow and Dholi Nik, the group walked along the scenic Hudson waterfront towards Hoboken where the Holi festival continued, a press release from Surati said.

Along with color countdowns, lively onstage entertainment, bounce houses, yoga, saxophone and dance workshops, food and shopping vendors, DJ and dancing, attendees enjoyed the view of the Manhattan skyline from Pier A park while celebrating one of India’s most popular festivals. Although Holi is usually held in the spring, this event was postponed until it was safe for people to gather.

Surati Founder and Artistic Director Rimli Roy said she felt blessed that such an event could be held right after the pandemic. “I am hoping that this is the new normal. I am so happy that we could celebrate Holi this year, even though it is late, but better late than never,” Roy is quoted saying in the press release.

A host of performers entertained the crowds including live jazz by the Zach Herchen Quartet and original songs by 17-year-old Rijah Banerjee that fused pop with R&B. The Surati dance team performed classical, folk and Bollywood dances. The team included Ruee Gawarikar (Kathak), Reba Browne, Alisha Desai, Mary Saragoussi, Christina Dowling and other guest artists. Indian Council for Cultural Relations empanelled artist Moushumi Phukan from Washington D.C performed the Assamese Bihu folk dance; Jainil Mehta choreographed and led a Bollywood dance team both onstage and as an interactive Bollywood dance workshop during the Hudson River Color Walk.

Jeff Brackett, known for his work as one of the lead characters in Surati’s original show “Ramaavan – A Musical,” was the master of ceremonies.

Cesar “Shiv” Gonzalez gave a stirring sitar performance followed by a Bollywood fusion band who had revelers dancing while throwing color.

The entertainment was rounded out by younger Surati dance students– Dimple, Aratrika, Pritha, Ahana, Elizabeth, Isha, Roma and Shreya– who performed an Odissi classical dance choreographed by Roy.

Amongst the attending dignitaries were New Jersey Assemblyman Raj Mukherji, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Jersey City Councilmen Rich Boggiano and Rolando Lavarro, and Jersey City Cultural Affairs Director Christine Goodman.

“Today is so fun! This is the first time my kids are experiencing a proper Holi, and I am so happy to be able to have them experience our culture like this,” attendee Amita Patel is quoted saying in the press release. Another guest, Manuel Ortega added, “It’s just fun! We try to come every year!”

Surati Holi Hai began as a modest indoor event with a purpose to educate the community about Indian culture and today. It has grown to also serve as a fundraiser for Surati to continue its artistic programming throughout the year.

Holi Hai was supported by New Jersey Travel and Tourism, Hudson County Travel and Tourism, Hudson County Cultural Affairs, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of NJ, the City of Jersey City, the City of Hoboken and Jersey City Cultural Affairs. This year’s programming was further made possible by funds from the Princeton Area Community Foundation and NJEDA.

 

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