Holi on the Hudson
Purple, scented powder was affectionately smeared on my face as I arrived on deck of one of Manhattan’s Circle Line Cruises with a loud, “Happy Holi!” The dhol drummer greeted us with his chaal (rhythm) and a sweet, fruity drink was offered on a tray by smiling waiters. It was a perfect day for a boat ride, not one cloud in the sky, and the temperature was abnormally high for mid-March. Well, this day was going to be a little abnormal, seeing that it was St. Patrick’s Day!
Holi, the festival of color that ushers in the fruitful spring season, is one of the most celebrated festivals in India. Setup like a game (you actually “play Holi”), revelers throw handfuls of colored powder (gulal) at each other while dancing and singing and basically having the time of their lives. The “Rang Barse” Holi Cruise on the Hudson River was a giant traveling party of colors and chaos – it was beautiful! The dholi kicked off the entire celebration, and as we left port, Dhoonya Dance, a New York/DC based Bollywood dance school, performed a flashy dance number to the cheering crowd. Bollywood Axion, Pooja Narang’s Bollywood dance school in New York City where I have been attending classes, followed suit, and we performed a medley of energetic Bollywood and bhangra numbers from our upcoming showcase in April. Pooja herself jumped on stage mid-song and wowed the crowd with her beauty and her dancing.
Then it was time for the real reason we were all on this boat; everyone headed up deck and grabbed handful after handful of the soft, bright powder and began throwing it in every direction imaginable. In about five minutes, bodies of rainbow color resembling Pan’s Labyrinth creatures were lurking the boat, looking for clean skin to graffiti. The music was playing, and we were all dancing with the backdrop of New York City’s skyline – a true Bucket List moment.
At the end of the celebrations, each of my ears was filled with a different color: blue in my left and yellow in my right. And that’s when reality set in: we all had to leave Port 81 and walk the streets of New York looking like complete mad folk. But the day was in our favor – being covered in sprayed colors from head to toe is just as ridiculous-looking as grown men in leprechaun outfits. AMAZING DAY!
THE BARE FEET™ FIVE:
1. Happy Holi! Holi celebrations continue this weekend in NYC with the “Holi Hai” event presented by NYC Bhangra – Sunday, March 25th 12noon-3pm at Dag Hammarskjald Park (East 47th Street between 2nd & 3rd Ave) – FREE!
2. Pooja Narang and her Bollywood Axion: Pooja’s school features Bollywood, bhangra, Bolly Hip-Hop and other Bollywood-inspired dance classes for all ages and dance levels. For more information, go to www.BollywoodAxion.com
3. Holi in Bollywood: One of the most famous Holi scenes in Bollywood film include a young Amitabh Bachchan in Silsila with the song Rang Barse Bheege Churnawali
4. Favorite Bollywood movies: I love the classic, Bollywood movies with the young SRK (Shahrukh Kahn) including Veer-Zaara, DDLJ (Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge) , and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham – best times to rent these are when you have a rainy, Sunday afternoon and four hours to kill. *most of these are tear jerkers, so keep an extra box of Kleenex by your side!
5. More Bollywood music: Some of my favorite tracks out now include Chammak Challo, Sheila Ki Jawani, and Chikni Chameli (also all great Bollywood dance numbers to watch!)