New Venue Rocks Ancient Festival of Colors

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Photos: Carlos Pena Photography and Meedu Photography

HOUSTON: A new place always brings a sense of excitement, with a tinge of apprehension.  A new university, new home, new workplace, a new city… or a new HOLI location.   Success was soon evident as over ten thousand poured into the Houston Farm & Ranch, flooding the organizers Sunil and Sandhya Thakkar of Masala Radio with positive feedback. “This is the best Holi I have seen.”  “Packed with young people and so many non-Indians”    “This Park is more central.”  “I love the barn – an escape from the craziness!” “Beautiful Park surrounding by trees.”

Aapka Colors, MODIA Home Theatre and Tara Energy presented Houston Holi 2015 on Sunday March 22 featuring the Mercedes Benz Sugar Land sponsored concert with Sunny Brown and Lomaticc.  A sea of fans rocked and swayed to their favorite songs “Bombay Bo” “Roses” and “Soniyea Ni”.   3 rocking DJ Parties with DJ Nish & DJ Rizz, DJ Zee and Hush Puppy DJs Geo / Dholi Tamim jamming with the latest Bollywood tunes unleashing pent up energy at the crowds swelled and color powder flew in the air.  Opening for Lomaticc was Arjun of “K for Kishore” who won over the crowd with Kishore classics and Holi songs like “Rang Barse.” Three days of rain gave way to the most beautiful day for Holi, as the sun and cottony clouds competed to take in views of the colored revelers below.   It seemed like a huge color and music festival merged with traditional Hindu festivities of the Holi Pooja and Pragitya (bonfire) by the Gujarati Samaj of Houston and Hindus of Greater Houston, SKAI Foundation Rath Yatra, and ISKCON Kirtan.  ICC fueled the kid’s tenacity.

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Record crowds swelled around the Entertainment Stage with fast paced dances from Naach Houston, Infused Performing Arts, Shingari’s School of Rhythm, Rhythm India, Rice Chowl Bhangra, Rice Rasikas, Katy Kung Fu, Bollywood Shake, Houston Jannat, Bollywood Dancing Stars, Ek Do Teen Dance and H-Town Divas.  Masala Radio Jockey Dilip Kanabar climbed to the top of a 15-man human pyramid to crack the matki in the Ramji Matki Phod. Moid Khan of Bollywood Shows for U presented awards to Ajay Chunchu, Malika Ghei and child singer Aryan of the Aapka Colors Houston’s Got Talent Challenge.  Mihir Mody awarded prizes (at daughter Alisha’s on-stage request) to all 3 DJs – Nish – Tamim – GEO in the Modia DJ Spinoff which sent the crowd into a dancing frenzy.  As the finale revelers cooled off and washed off in the Alings Rain Dance with showers created by three 40-foot rain towers.

The misinformed fashionably-dressed struggled to stay clean, hovering in the barn-shaded giant inflatable Kids Rides and Petting Zoo sponsored by Britannia and Keemat Grocers.  For many, their happiness was complete at the tantalizing street foods stands: DGN Factory, Madhuram Mirch Masala, Hyderabad House, Vishala Restaurant, Spice Soda, Great American Cookies and Mayuri Resturant.  New this year were Trifles – amazingly luxurious dessert layers of mousses, custards, and fruits, and Hot Breads gourmet cheese pizzas and baked goods.

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The only challenge with this otherwise perfect location was the parking.   Had everyone been able to park, the event would have boasted over 20,000 people.  However, 2000 parking spots were at full capacity at 1pm and there were lines for up to an hour to get inside parking lots until 4PM.  Yet faithful patrons arrived as late as 4:45 PM and insisted to go in even for 15 minutes of Holi play.   This year saw the most diverse crowd. Tara Energy had over 250 RSVPs from their diverse office attend the event, and guests from all corners of Houston flocked to play “HOLI”.  Sunil Thakkar said, “At least 30% of the crowd were non-Indians.  I believe it’s time to take the event to the next level, a bigger park with 4000-5000 parking spots and appeal to all of Houston.”

Masala Radio thanks over 100 sponsors, 100 volunteers, and the dream team Masala Entertainment management crew Munira, Rinku, Devangi, Shah, Shameet, Nathan and 35  event managers, 20 Masala Radio Jockeys, and especially Eddie of Houston Farm & Ranch for yet another smashing HOLI!

Bura Na Mano, Holi Hai!