Chicago IL: Holi – the festival of colors – is undoubtedly the most fun-filled and boisterous of Hindu festivals. It’s an occasion that brings in unadulterated joy and mirth, fun and play, music and dance, and, of course, lots of bright colors! It is celebrated on the full moon day in the month of Phalgun, which usually falls in the last week of Feb. or the beginning of March. Holi is a time when man and nature alike throw off the gloom of winter and rejoice in the colors & liveliness of spring. This year Holi was on the 23rd of March, but the Hari Om Mandir celebrated the festival on Sunday, the 20th of March, 2016, with traditional joy and enthusiasm. Although the temperatures were a little nippy and on the cooler side, a large number of people (over 400) joined the celebrations.
Holi in the Hari Om Mandir is always SPECIAL and keenly awaited, because it is celebrated with flowers and the festive decorations in the Temple attract people from far and near. This year, the legend of Radha Ji’s Sakhiyan from Barsana, was brought live! As young girls beautifully dressed in the traditional Chania-Cholis, vibrant saris, arrived amidst chantings of “Aaj Biraj Mein Holi Re Rasiya”, all eyes were focused on them and people were eager to be blessed & get drenched in the colorful drizzle of flowers. Radha Ji’s Sakhis / Krishna Ji’s Gopiyan, performed Garba and showered flowers from their beautiful baskets on one & all in the congregation – a symbol of color and prosperity in life. The wonderful Holi folk songs describing the immortal enduring love of Radha and Krishna, sung by Rama Kapoor, Rekha & Kailash Mehta, Happy & Goldy, Madhu Salwan, accompanied by Ajay Ghai on the Dholak, created the perfect environment and Hari Om Mandir in Medinah seemed to be a replica of Brij, Vrindavan and Mathura in India. The entire congregation echoed with clappings, applause & appreciation when two little girls Rashmi and Hita, age 7, gave a dance performance “Prem Ratan Dhan Payo”
Soon after, everyone was seen embracing each other and wishing Happy Holi!!! Jeetu Patel, Aarti Singla, Garima Bhagav, Nazneen and family had spent several hours the previous night to decorate the temple with colorful balloons – bright neon and water splash colors adorned the Mandir hall. Also, Rita Patel, Hiteshree and Latha made beautiful Rangolis – Swastik, Ganesha, Lotus etc on the floor and added to the colorful ambience. Bowls full of dry color powder – Red, Blue, Green, Yellow “Gulaal” were displayed at the feet of the deities. Keeping in mind the cleanliness of the temple, people were prohibited from playing with those colors, but every devotee was given a chance to get soaked in the natural colors of Mother Nature. Meera & Jayanthi greeted everybody at the entrance with a colorful flower garland, Happy Holi Wishes and a warm friendly smile.