For a few years now, the Association for India’s Development (AID) LA-OC chapter has put together Holi on the Beach, an annual celebration of Holi to raise funds for the org’s grassroots programs. Billed as “The Biggest Holi in SoCal”, tons of people from Indian and non-Indian backgrounds come together to ring in the arrival of spring and share hope, joy, and, of course, color with friends and strangers.
Holi itself is a Hindu festival that is rooted in various legends, including the tale of Holika, the evil sister of a demon king named Hiranyakashyap, who died in a fire while attempting to murder Hiranyakashyap’s Vishnu-devoted son Prahlad. The night before Holi starts with a Holika bonfire to commemorate those events. The color-throwing may have basis in another legend involving the blue-skinned deity Krishna who painted his love, the fair-skinned Radha, with colors to make her more like him. You can read more about Holi and these legends here and here.
Anyway, this year’s event was held on a private beach in Redondo Beach, which I realize is a pretty awkward though true sentence. I went with my friends Saba, Andy, and Rona, who all have been to this event before, and Rona’s friend Kayla. A packet of colored powder (gulal) was included with entry and I decided to choose mint green. Saba, Andy, and I got to the festival when things were just starting to be picked up and I soon realized how things were pretty much going to go for the rest of the day. Since we were still clean, those who had already been throwing colors pretty much bombarded us and we decided to carry that on as well by trying to target people who still hadn’t been showered with a lot of powder.
It was a lot of fun to just go up to strangers and wish them a happy Holi while rubbing powder on their hair or clothes. Honestly, there was a lot more touching than I had anticipated would be involved, but everyone had good intentions and actually rubbing the color into someone is much more effective than just tossing it and hoping that something sticks. There was also dancing and water guns and people tossing other people into the water. All in good fun.
Rasoi Curry Point was the official vendor and I was so down for Indian food. I ended up getting some samosas (which I still frequently get mixed up with mimosas) and a mango lassi. Fun (?) fact: The first time that I ever tried mango lassi (or any lassi for that matter) was at the India Pavilion during the Shanghai World Expo.
There are places to clean up a little, but I decided to just do a quick wipe down with a towel, change my shirt, and drive home to take an actual shower. I’m definitely glad I went and I think we all could use a little more color in our lives.