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New Yorkers embrace Hindu tradition in celebration of spring

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New York City, renowned for its diverse cultural tapestry, witnessed a vibrant celebration of the Hindu holiday, Holi, marking the advent of spring. Chef PriaVanda Chouhan, reflecting on her Indian heritage, underscored the significance of sharing sweetness to attract positivity.

As the chef and proprietor of Desi Galli, Chouhan distributed traditional desserts, including “methai” crafted from carrots and condensed milk, encapsulating the essence of Holi’s joyous spirit.

In the heart of Desi Galli’s dining room, Chouhan extended warm wishes to patrons, embodying the communal essence of Holi. Originating from her childhood in Canada, where Holi celebrations were scarce, Chouhan marveled at New York City’s thriving Hindu community upon her relocation fifteen years ago. She recounted the community’s unity in commemorating special occasions, particularly Holi, a festival characterized by the exchange of vibrant colors and camaraderie.

Romeo Hitlall, serving as the president of the United American Hindu Leadership Council, attested to the exponential growth of New York City’s Hindu populace. Hitlall, the orchestrator of the Phagwah Parade, an iconic Holi event, noted a significant surge in attendance over the years, with up to 30,000 participants converging annually. Highlighting areas like Richmond Hill as hubs of Hindu settlement, Hitlall estimated the Hindu population in New York state to exceed a million, with cultural nuances reflected in the interchangeable usage of “Phagwah” and “Holi.”

Across borders and generations, Holi, or Phagwah, serves as a unifying force, transcending geographical boundaries. Hitlall delineated the varying nomenclature of the festival across regions like India, Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad, and Jamaica, underscoring its universal message of love and camaraderie. Within this two-day jubilee, the kaleidoscopic hues symbolize diverse facets of human emotion, ranging from affection to aesthetic allure.

For Chouhan, the preparation and sharing of delectable treats symbolize an embrace of her cultural heritage, fostering goodwill and prosperity for the future. Witnessing the joy reflected in patrons’ smiles, Chouhan epitomized the essence of Holi’s ethos, transcending cultural boundaries through culinary expression. As New Yorkers partake in these festivities, they not only celebrate the arrival of spring but also embrace the rich tapestry of traditions that enrich the city’s cultural landscape.

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