Indian Diaspora celebrating Holi and Purim

On 17th March 2024, Oregon Portland witnessed a unique and heartwarming celebration as the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and the Jewish Federation came together to celebrate the festivals of Holi and Purim. This event was a beautiful demonstration of cultural harmony and unity, showcasing the rich traditions of both communities. Families from both the Hindu and Jewish communities gathered at the event, spanning across different ages, coming together to bond over the festivities. It was a delightful sight to see youth, parents, and children enjoying the celebrations, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Holi, known as the festival of colors, marks the arrival of spring and the triumph of good over evil. Participants traditionally engage in a playful exchange of colored powders, adding a vibrant splash of colors to the festivities. The air is filled with joyous laughter, as people dance, sing, and enjoy festive treats like Thandai.

Purim, a Jewish holiday, commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from Haman’s plot to kill them. The festival is characterized by costume parties, parades, and the reading of the Book of Esther. Hamantaschen, triangular cookies, are a traditional treat enjoyed during Purim.

The celebration in Portland, Oregon featured a variety of activities for all ages, including Mehendi (henna tattooing), face painting, and mask making. These activities added a creative touch to the event, allowing attendees to immerse themselves in the spirit of the festivals.

Delicious food was also a highlight of the celebration, with cookies served for Purim and Thandai for Holi. These culinary delights brought a taste of both cultures to the event, further enhancing the festive atmosphere.

One of the highlights of the celebration was the playful participation of everyone in playing Holi with colors. People of all ages joyfully smeared each other with colored powders, spreading happiness and camaraderie. This act of sharing and revelry brought the community closer together, transcending cultural boundaries.


The event received coverage from oregon.live, with a reporter and photographer capturing the colorful and joyous moments of the celebration. The coverage helped to showcase the Cultural exchange and unity are the hallmarks of the event. The main reason for celebrating these two festivals together was to foster unity and understanding among people from diverse backgrounds. Living in a society with such a rich tapestry of cultures, events like these serve as a reminder of the beauty of diversity and the importance of coming together to celebrate our differences.

A similar session was conducted last year, where the Greater Portland Hindu community engaged in cross-cultural dialogue with the Jewish community. The key goal of this dialogue series is to build relationships, learn about each other’s cultures, and find ways to support and coordinate with each other.

Hiral Pandya, Kanishkan Tamilarasan, Ajay from Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) and Rachel Nelson, Bob and Doug from Jewish Federation of Greater Portland were the key facilitators of this dialogue series, which has proven to be a successful platform for cultural exchange and understanding. Indian-Diaspora-celebrating-Holi-and-Purim

My experience at the celebration was truly memorable. It was my first time celebrating Holi since coming to the US, and I was filled with joy to be able to partake in this festival once again. I thoroughly enjoyed playing Holi and painting the faces of kids, as it brought back fond memories of celebrating back home.

The cultural exchange at the event was refreshing, and it emphasized the importance of understanding and appreciating all cultures, especially in a diverse country like the US.

I am grateful to have gotten involved with HSS, as they not only gave me an opportunity to celebrate my festival but also introduced me to new festivals and people. This experience has helped me feel less homesick and more connected to the community around me. Interacting with the kids during the celebration filled me with happiness, and it gave me a homely feeling on the festival day. It was a joy to be a part of such a vibrant and inclusive celebration.

The celebration of Holi and Purim in Oregon Portland was not just a festival, but a testament to the power of unity and understanding. It showcased the beauty of two diverse cultures coming together in harmony, setting an example for communities everywhere to celebrate their differences and build bridges of friendship.

Guest Author: Maitreyee Rao

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