Colors, music, nostalgic Chicagoans gather in spirit of Holi to cherish missing pieces of home

South Asians from all over Chicago come together on March 4 to celebrate Holi, the festival of colors.

By Prerana Sannappanavar
Medill Reports

The festival of Holi is many things. For some, it is the celebration of good triumphing over evil. For others, it is the joy of using color and food to spread the love we share as a culture. For even others, it is a piece of nostalgia and homesickness mixed with misty eyes at being so far away from one’s homeland. This Holi at Navy Pier in Chicago, South Asians from across the city came together to feel a little closer to home and to themselves.



NARRATION: The Holi event at Navy Pier, Chicago, was an afternoon of fun festivities to celebrate the Indian festival of Holi. Holi is the festival of color, which stems from an ancient Hindu tradition that celebrates the divine deities Lord Radha and Krishna.

AJANTA CHAKRABORTY: It’s literally one of my most favorite festivals to come to.

[Let’s start with an epic Holi dance party!]

[Vibrant Bollywood song playing]

AJANTA CHAKRABORTY: My name is Ajanta Chakraborty and…
I started a company called Bollywood and Culture Groove about 10 years ago. And our mission is simple: – spread the joy of Indian culture.

NARRATION: Indian festivities always include an abundance of dance and music, and events like this use the two mediums as tools to give the world a glimpse into our rich culture.

AJANTA CHAKRABORTY: Dance is my favorite medium. Like I said, our mission is to spread the joy of culture, and we do that through a mix of stories…
and dances. And especially because I work so much with kids, nothing like getting them to move and learn through their bodies. Which is why I love introducing dance. Most of the songs I would use, usually have folk roots, in India. So it also gives me a chance to kind of talk about the different…

AJANTA CHAKRABORTY (INTERVIEW): …people, from which the dance is coming from. And it’s what makes it very meaningful. And that’s what I love about it.

NITHYA IYENGAR (INTERVIEW): Song and music is something…it’s not really, you know…cultural…

NITHYA IYENGAR (VOICEOVER): …particularly, it just goes across various mediums and various cultures.

WHITNEY JAGGI (VOICEOVER): I think it’s probably one of the best ways because it’s emotional…

WHITNEY JAGGI (INTERVIEW): …and it’s really the only way to get people to understand you ultimately, so I think it’s perfect.

[Bollywood Holi music playing]

Prerana Sannappanavar is a social justice graduate student at Medill. You can connect with her at LinkedIn.