The Summit Area YMCA is dedicated to creating a culture in which diversity and inclusion are integral not only in everyday operations, but providing communities with access and support to opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive. A supporter of welcoming and inclusive practices to engage all diverse groups of the community, the Summit Area YMCA celebrated the traditional Hindu Color Festival, Holi this past Saturday, June 3 on the Summit Village Green.
With over 250 registered guests from all over New Jersey attending with friends and family, in addition to guests joining on the day of, the color festival brought together individuals of all backgrounds, ages, and ethnicities to celebrate the arrival spring, the triumph of good over evil, the joy of friendship and equality for all. The festival is popularly known around the world for the bright colored powder, or gulal, that festival goers throw on each other.
The throwing of the colored powder is derived from the legend of Krishna, whose skin was dark blue. To make his love Radha love him, Krishna mischievously colored her face to make her similar to himself. The powder is also symbolic of the colors of nature in spring and is traditionally made of turmeric and flower extracts, although modern day powders are largely synthetic and organic. Of the colors used, the four main colors of red reflect love and fertility; blue represents the blue of Krishna, yellow is the color of turmeric (used for not only cooking, but medicinally, and is also viewed as auspicious and sacred in Indian culture), and green to symbolize spring and new beginnings.
“I grew up celebrating Holi in India,” said Jagruti Oza, Board Chair of the Summit Area YMCA. “What I saw on the Summit Green was an event that brought an entire mix of community together to have fun and I just love that about it. It was a quintessential Y event that represented community spirit. The Y specifically connects with specific groups to get them more engaged in the community based on what their needs are. One of the Indian community’s needs was to celebrate the festivals that they grew up with and hadn’t been able to do here. Typically Holi takes place in March in India, but June worked out perfectly here! We adapt, and it’s great that our home country is adapting to us as well—the Y is truly a welcoming and inclusive center, and I can’t imagine a community without a Y.”
The festive day began with popular Bollywood music hits blasting across the Summit Village Green as families and friends threw and covered each other with the bright organic powdered colors commonly used in Holi festivals. Music was provided by DJ Abby and DJ Jagrut from Intensive sounds. In addition to the fun, dancing, and music, delicious, authentic Indian food from Bombay Bistro was sold, providing guests with a culinary taste into the world of Indian cuisine.
“It’s encouraging to see staff, members and guests of every background, ethnicity and age group in New Jersey coming together to have fun and learn about a different culture,” said Paul Kieltyka, President & CEO of the Summit Area YMCA. “This is what the Y is about— really bringing people together, connecting communities, providing opportunities for youth to develop, being socially responsible and giving back to the community. It’s our three pillars —everything we do, every class, program, event and service, the financial assistance we give out— is to make a better us. Holi Color Festival is just another example of the Y’s mission in action.”
The festival began at 11am and ended at 3pm, allowing guests to join at their leisure throughout the day. As the Holi Color Festival was one of its first in the city, the popularity of the event was extraordinary, with more and more participants joining as the event proceeded into the afternoon. The Holi Colors were sold out towards the end of the day, and Bombay Bistro brought another team of assistants to help serve food to excited guests.
“We were thrilled to see the turnout for the festival,” said Urvashi Patel, event coordinator for the Holi Color Festival and Membership Administrator at the Summit YMCA. “It really warms my heart, seeing all these different people coming together to celebrate Holi with us.”
To see more upcoming events with the Summit Area YMCA, visit www.thesay.org/calendar
The Summit Area YMCA is one of area’s leading 501c3 organizations. Through the generosity of our members, donors, and partners, we are able to offer financial assistance for our programs and services to those with demonstrated need. To strengthen your community and provide others with the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive, make your tax-deductible donation today at www.theSAY.org/give.