Public Library Celebrates Indian Heritage With Color Festival

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On March 23, the New Brunswick Free Public Library celebrated Indian heritage as they honored the Holi Day tradition of color play for the fourth year in a row.

"Holi is the festival of colors," explained Kim Adams, Archival Librarian at the New Brunswick Free Public Library.

"It is celebrated differently all over India. It's celebrated all over the world."

Traditionally, Holi Day celebrators go outside to throw differently colored powders at each other to welcome the spring.  Adams says that Holi Day is "to celebrate the harvests."

Children of all ages gathered with Rutgers students and alumni on the front lawn of the library to enjoy a short session of splashing each other with bright colors.

Three different organizations came together to present the festival in New Brunswick: Rutgers Graduate Student Association, Hindi USA, and South Asian Total Health Initiative,

Among the activities were free henna tattoos, music, an open dance floor, poetry reading, authentic food, and a fashion show featuring different regional sari wear. Children and adults gathered in the Children's Reading Room section to learn about the variety of customs and languages in India.

Librarian Kavita Pandey organized the free event. Pandey was "very excited" about by the impressive turnout.

"We gave out about 160 standing room tickets," she told NewBrunswickToday.com

Bob Belvin, director of New Brunswick Free Public Library said that the event has had been held in the New Brunswick library for the past four years.

"New Brunswick by one statistic measure, is the most diverse city in New Jersey," Belvin said.

"It is important to help people learn about different places, especially the children. It is so easy for them not that have views of other ways of live."

Upendra J. Chivukula, one of two elected Assemblymen representing New Brunswick in state government, was present at the event.

Chivukla, who was born in India, said he was excited to see how many people came to learn and said that he believes "language is like opening a door to somebody's culture."

"The United States cannot have just one official language. That kind of thinking will deprive our children," Chivukula said.

He spoke about programs such as Hindi USA that are available to children who want to learn Hindi. Chikuvla explained that children can learn the languages "in a private setting and earn credits toward school."

Geeta Tandon, a Hindi USA teacher said that there is a school that teaches Hindi in North Brunswick.

"There is no New Brunswick school," said Tandon, but children in New Brunswick are welcome and encouraged to join them in North Brunswick.

"We're always looking for more students."

Pandey and other associates donated traditional Indian jewelry and accessories as well as pictures and books for display in glass cases throughout the 101-year-old library building.

Archival Librarian Kim Adams said she thinks it is important to have "visual props, three-dimensional things," because they "cement the learning experiences for kids and adults."