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Holi celebrates culture and diversity in Queens

By Tom Momberg

Last weekend brought some of the first sure signs of spring, which were commemorated by the annual ancient Hindu religious festival, Holi.

Flushing’s Hindu Temple Society of North America brought in the passage of spring at the Queens Museum last week, celebrating a holiday that marks the renewal of Mother Earth, but not in its more traditional ways.

Holi is also known as the “Festival of Colors in India,” in which groups of people throw and splash washable vibrant colored dye at each other, expressing camaraderie and friendship. But the temple went about that in a novel way this year, inviting different individuals and cultural groups from around Queens to share dance and song of about 10 different ethnic or religious traditions.

“We gathered here today not only to celebrate Holi, but to celebrate the unity we all share among the different cultures, which is ever present in Queens,” said Master of Ceremonies Abiramy Logeswaran of the temple’s young professionals committee.

The Hindu temple organized the performances of Jewish music by Wendy Moscow, a Korean dance executed by members of Korean Community Service, an Ecuadorian dance performed by students of the Ayazamana Cultural Center, a Chinese aboriginal dance put on by members of the New York Huan Lian Tsu Hui Temple and much more.

The temple wanted to abridge the social significances of Holi — as a time to renew old friendships and to forge new ones — to extend its celebration to everyone in the most diverse borough in the city and the country.

“All of the performers we’ve seen come from very diverse cultural backgrounds,” Logeswaran said. “Our entire goal is to unite all the different ethnic communities together as one human race, despite any racial barriers.”

The traditional Holi celebration in Queens usually is held on the first weekend of spring, but this year the event was canceled because of a dispute among the parade organizers in Richmond Hill.

Though there was no dye thrown around, the vibrant costumes worn by the performers made the festival of colors still very much real, as performers danced and sang under the backdrop of Flushing Meadows Corona Park, where cherry blossoms were blooming.

Special guest Don Capaldi, who is a community activist and liaison for U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Flushing), noted how appropriate that the festivities landed on the most beautiful day of 2015 thus far — a certain blessing for all the work the temple society did.

“I’ve always remarked how remarkable it is to see communities put together the way society (creates), and how wonderful it is to have this tradition the Indian Community makes available for our overall diverse community here in Flushing,” Capaldi said.

Find the Hindu Temple Society of North America online at https://nyganeshtemple.org for more information about its Holi festivities.

Reach reporter Tom Momberg by e-mail at tmomberg@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4573.

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