Rajasthanis Celebrate Holi with Colorful Cultural Program

Lemont, IL: Association of Rajasthanis in America (ARA) celebrated the Holi festival on Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the Hindu Temple of Greater Chicago (HTGC), 10915 Lemont Rd, Lemont, Ill., with an evening of colorful dances, good food, and much socializing. The event was organized by outgoing ARA President Ram Saini and presided by incoming President Sunita Sarup. Quite a few non-Rajasthanis, e.g., from Madhya Pradesh, were present. To keep up the Holi spirit, many guests showed up with faces already colored with powders.

Sarup invited the volunteers who had contributed to the evening’s success to join her before welcoming the audience and announcing the ARA program for this year: develop leaders in its youth wing, promote small businesses, expand community services, and a monthly newsletter. Ram Saini’s little daughter Riddhi presented the cultural program with these words: “I want to tell you about my dad. Last year he was president and did a lot of hard work. He is no longer president but still helps out a lot. I hope you enjoy the program and happy Holi!”

Riddhi danced to the song Soniye Soniye from the movie Aksar. Dr. Virendra Mathur sang a Hindi song celebrating the advent of Holi (holi aayi re) while pounding the beat with his hands on the table. After a rather chaotic dance by a group of five boys and a girl, Rinki Talati sang another Holi song (holiya me ude re gulal), with audience members coming forward to dance spontaneously. She returned later to sing “Silsila yeh chaahat kaa” from the movie Devdas.

Rajesh Bawa sang the song “Tum Se Hi” from Jab We Met and returned to the floor later to follow up with “Din Dhal Jaaye” from the movie Guide.

During the comic interlude, obligatory for any Holi celebration worth the name, Dr. Badri Taparia, after referring to some idiosyncrasies of the Marwadi language typical of Rajasthan, made various jokes in Hindi, including one about Ram Saini’s matchmaking skills!

DJ Sahil, yielding to audience pressure, sang “Mitwa” so well that he was obliged to return with “Yeh Jo Muhabbat Hein” (Kati Patang), and later kept the merry diners entertained with numbers such as Pal Pal Dil ke Paas (Blackmail) and Jiya Dhadak Dhadak Jaye.

There were Rajasthani and North Indian costumes, jewelry, and other trinkets for sale by Dipika Jhaveri of Bedazzled & More. “Happy Birthday” was sung for Amit Sharma on his 20th birthday, complete with a ceremonial cake-cutting.

After the buffet dinner that offered some specialties from that region, there was an open dance floor for Raas and Dandiya to Bollywood numbers, where the circle of dancers kept growing larger with each song, finally making room within for the most enthusiastic revelers. The numbers included Balle Balle, Kaike Paan Banaras Wala (Don), Rang Barse Bheege Chunarwali (Silsila), which remains one of the most popular songs played on the occasion of Holi festival.