Buzz Summer Camp Directory
BELLAIRE • MEMORIAL • RIVER OAKS • TANGLEWOOD • WEST UNIVERSITY

A Pop of Color

Hundreds Celebrate Fourth Annual Bellaire Holi Festival

Click the Buzz Me button to receive email notifications when this writer publishes a new article or a new article in this column is published.
Bellaire Holi 2024

Some of the attendees at the Bellaire Holi Festival this year.

Ready to be covered in colorful powder, hundreds gathered in Bellaire-Zindler Park this past Saturday for the fourth annual Bellaire Holi Festival, a celebration of color, community, and springtime. 

The festival was created in 2019 by the Bellaire Desi Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting South Asian cultural heritage in the Bellaire community. Back then, the nearest holi festival was located in Sugarland, creating a difficult commute for families living closer to the city’s center.   

“We thought, why don’t we just make our own local event?” Himanshu Upadhyaya, the festival’s main organizer, remarked. 

This local event has since taken off. Over the past four years, the Bellaire Holi Festival has consistently seen over 400 guests annually, drawn by the promise of energetic music, delicious Indian food and family-friendly fun—all just a few blocks from home. 

On Saturday, attendees were greeted with bags of “gulal”— brightly-colored, nontoxic powder that is the staple of any Holi celebration. “Gulal” symbolizes the triumph of good over evil which, in the Hindu tradition, is one of the main reasons Holi is observed. 

Bellaire Holi 2024

The Bellaire Holi Festival is a popular event, and has consistently attracted over 400 attendees in the last four years. 

The powder—which came in bright pink, purple, blue, yellow, and green—also symbolizes the arrival of spring, a time of renewal and joy.

“This festival gives me the great opportunity to declare that spring in Bellaire is open,” Bellaire Mayor Gus Pappas declared, as attendees started flinging powder at one another. 

Powder-flinging was restricted to a fenced-off area of the park, so those averse to turning multi-colored could avoid the action. Within this area, however, everything was possible. A brother surreptitiously smeared blue on his sister’s back. A dad doused his son’s whole head in yellow. Teenagers danced to the festival’s DJ, who played up-beat spins on Bollywood classics. 


Members of the T2 Dance Company's Adult Dance Group, ages 15 and up.

Outside the fenced area, guests could purchase freshly-made dosas—thin and crispy South-Indian ”crepes” made from fermented lentils and rice—or Indian street food like samosa chaat and chana masala from local vendors. To entertain them as they ate, the Holi festival showcased singing performances from the Bellaire Bollywood Karaoke Club, as well as a variety of dances—ranging from classical Indian dance to fusion Bollywood numbers. 

“Holi is all about spreading color, spreading good energy, spreading positivity,” said Sonali Patel, co-founder of T2 Dance Company, which choreographed three dances at the Bellaire Holi Festival. “Bollywood dancing is so vibrant and so colorful, which fits right hand in hand with Holi.” 

The Holi festival’s dances truly captured the spirit of the holiday, which brings vibrance and joy to children, parents, and even grandparents alike. One young dancer lost a tooth on a post-performance celebratory candy, just as dancers in their 40s and 50s took the stage. 

For Bellaire resident Navin Kumar, the best part of the festival was watching his daughter-in-law, Puja, and his two granddaughters dance. 

“They danced so beautifully,” he said, while enjoying a vada pav, a spicy potato patty between a soft bun.


 

Whether you find yourself crouched on the grass admiring the dances or in the middle of a cloud of color, the Bellaire Holi Festival, above all else, is a brilliant example of the neighborhood’s strong sense of community. This rang true for Kunal Narayan, who's lived in Bellaire for about a year. 

“It feels like a community here—that’s what I appreciate. That’s what brought us to Bellaire in the first place,” he said.

The Bellaire Holi Festival—which is completely non-profit—donates proceeds to a variety of local charities each year, including the Bellaire Fire Department and the Bellaire High School Hindi program, one of the only programs of its kind in the state of Texas. 

However, the festival’s greatest gift may be that it allows everyone—not just kids—the chance to have fun and let loose. 

“Everyone loves to play,” Upadhyaya said. “We’re all just kids at heart.”

To leave a comment, please log in or create an account with The Buzz Magazines, Disqus, Facebook, or Twitter. Or you may post as a guest.