The Hues of Holiness: Holi Celebration at Chinmaya Mission, Houston

By Mahesh Gupta

Photos by Bharath Rao and Ashutosh Kak

HOUSTON: Chinmaya Mission Houston’s Holi celebration in 2024 was a festive fusion of tradition and joy. Over 1000 attendees, gathered for the event, which featured the symbolic Holika Dahan, engaging games, and lively Bollywood music. The ceremony began with the Saumyakasi Sivalaya priest, Sri Ganesh Satyanarayana and Acarya Pujya Gaurang Uncle lighting the Dahan Kund, marking the victory of good over evil. The ritual included offerings like rice, kumkum, and fruits, accompanied by mantras honoring deities Vishnu and Brahaspati. The collective Parikrama and the rising flames created a powerful spiritual atmosphere, further enhanced by triangular banners, adorning the courtyard, representing the 3 elements Wood, Fire and Air. Their presence infused the celebration with spiritual significance, connecting the earthly festivities to the divine forces of Agni, Vayu and Bhumi.

The culinary experience was equally vibrant, with queues efficiently moving around Shivalaya to savor dishes like pav bhaji, chhole bhature, and tricolor sweets, paan and thandai symbolizing India’s diversity. The presence of international guests highlighted the festival’s universal appeal, with many expressing their joy in experiencing Indian culture. The communal spirit continued with people engaging in discussions over tea and enjoying the music. A group of teenage girls moved along the path, gyrating to Bollywood songs, amply complemented by the emcee wearing a traditional red scarf.

Post-feast, the games began. Mothers and children faced off in Laathimaar, with mothers using foam noodles to playfully tag their children, showcasing the nurturing yet firm role they play. Fathers joined in for a game of Rope-pulling, adding to the familial fun. The event concluded with messages of goodwill and unity, emphasizing Holi’s spiritual significance and its power to bring people together as one family.

After the games concluded, the devotees moved outside the courtyard to engage in the vibrant tradition of playing with colors. In perfect harmony, they pondered their choice of hues, while students and volunteers prepared a colorful array of red, green, purple, yellow, blue, orange, pink, and fluorescent shades for distribution. The festivities commenced with one group dispensing colors, as others began their playful color-spraying. The wind, personified as Vayudevta, joined in, weaving through the air and enhancing the vivid display. The once colorless atmosphere transformed into a kaleidoscope of colors. Clad in white, the devotees were soon unrecognizable, as women, children, and teenagers joyously smeared colors on one another, embodying the spirit of “Happy Holi Hai.” The celebration was a sight to behold, with some faces just lightly dusted with color, while others were drenched from head to toe. The initial evasion of colors gave way to a wholehearted embrace, and soon, the water deity, Jaldevta, made its presence known with a cascade of bubbles, adding to the rainbow milieu. Everyone, including teachers, volunteers, and Bal Vihar students, was immersed in the vibrant celebration, united by the festival’s exuberant hues.

The celebration was a living tableau of unity and joy, embodying the festival’s essence of dissolving differences and embracing a divine connection. In conclusion, should anyone step forward, they would no longer be recognizable, for we are all made in the image of God. This is the true essence of the festival: to live, act, behave, and sacrifice as God would, ultimately merging into the higher power.”

For more information about Chinmaya Mission Houston, Sri Saumyakasi Sivalaya and its activities please visit, or call temple 281 568 1690 or Jay Deshmukh 832 541 0059 or Bharati Sutaria 281-933-0233