Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Holi Celebration at East Coast Park

While Kathy and Shira were visiting, our friends Swati and Gaurav invited us all out to East Coast Park to celebrate an Indian holiday called Holi. Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated throughout India (and other places with substantial Indian populations, like Singapore). The holiday marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring, and is thus a joyous occasion, full of celebration and fun, and of course, eating. The most exciting aspect of the holiday is that involves throwing colored powders at each other. But I'll get to that.

Shira is a dedicated ultrarunner, and the Holi celebration at East Coast Park happened to coincide with a triathalon (the Aviva Ironman 70.3) in which one of her running buddies was competing. So Shira woke up bright and early and beat us all out there to cheer him on, and we made plans to meet up with her later. Bryan, Kathy, and I took our time getting out there, but still beat Swati and Gaurav (who said they forgot to tell us that when they said to meet at 11 AM, that was actually Indian Time, which means 11:30 or later, haha). None of us had ever been to ECP before, so we spent some time roaming around Castle Beach, wading in the water, and watching the happy little kids building sandcastles.
Overlooking the Singapore Strait
Makes me want to play in the sand!

After we were done digging our toes into the sand, we tracked Shira down and cheered on the runners for awhile. I'd never watched a competitive racing event before, and I had mixed feelings about it. I thought the event itself was really exciting, but I felt bad for the runners, who were running on a track that was clogged with families meandering along, baby carriages, kids learning to rollerblade, and people lugging fishing poles. The laid-back weekenders and the dedicated athletes trying to share a track seemed like a horrible idea. Although there were volunteers on hand to clear the path for the runners, they didn't appear to be doing a very good job. I can't imagine training so hard to compete in an event like this, flying all the way here to do it, then having to dodge sticky-handed toddlers. Ugh. Anyway, Shira's friend was doing well, so that was exciting.
Triathalon ad

Eventually Swati and Gaurav found us, and we joined their friends on a beach adjacent to the race route. There were about fifteen of us total, and we made some brief introductions before getting down to the serious business of clobbering each other with colored powder. Actually, I missed the beginning of the festivities because I'd run down the beach to find a bathroom. When I got back, I was conspicuously cleaner than everyone else, so I was immediately doused with powder, and Bryan and Gaurav picked me up and hauled me down to the water and threw me in! The water makes the powder liquefy and smear even more effectively, and before long we all looked like we'd been caught in the middle of a paint fight.
Adults acting like kids : )
Being tossed into the ocean!

It was so fun! We all chased each other up and down the beach and into the water, flinging powder on each other, sneaking up on people who were starting to look a little too clean and wiping colors all over them. I think I have a new favorite holiday!
Bryan and his mom
Shira and me

After we'd all thoroughly doused in each other in every color of powder there, we took a group photo.
Happy Holi!

All through our raucous party, the triathalon was still going on about twenty yards away. Although we never went onto the track or anything, the two events seemed to be such a bizarre juxtaposition! Serious dedication vs. carefree fun. Weird. Anyway, our little groups was only one of several groups at East Coast Park celebrating Holi, and after we'd emptied our bags of powder we went over and watched another group who was playing music and dancing. I got a kick out of a little Indian girl who was running around throwing sand on people. She seemed to be just thrilled by it, apparently thinking that sand was pretty much the same as colored powder. It was cute.
How did the drummer stay so clean?

As is always the case when we hang out with Swati and Gaurav, Swati had prepared some delicious food, a rice dish I'd never had called....pua? pusa? puah? I don't exactly remember, BUT it was really good! After we'd had a snack and done our best to rinse off in the ocean, we parted with our friends, after many thanks for introducing us to such a fun-filled holiday. Shira, Kathy, Bryan, and I headed for the park's showers and did our best to rinse the color off. As we'd departed, we'd remarked upon how the colors seemed to be staining us pretty well, and Gaurav laughed and said, "Oh yeah, we forgot to tell you to rub oil on yourselves beforehand so the colors would come off more easily. Oops!" But he promised that we'd be back to our normal white selves after a few showers. Well, it was certainly going to take more than one, because our first shower at the park only got the worst of it off. But we'd all had such a good time that none of us minded being stained for awhile. Besides, if anyone asked, we had a good story!


  1. why dont you guys join us for holi 2013 at eco on 31st march 2013

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    Lots of performances & networking
    Delicious Indian food

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  2. It seems like a fun-filled holi celebration.
    My warmest holi wishes to you and your family.