Britain: Though Britain’s anti-pollution laws are strict and the nippy, drizzly weather a spoilsport, the NRIs in Britain manage to say rang barse with a strong dash of nostalgia. Surprisingly, however, the celebrations are low-key in Little India (Hounslow and Southall). But in Leicester, over a thousand people, including British MPs and officials, gather at Cossington Park near the famous Golden Mile — the Belgrave Road where nearly 100 Gujarati-owned shops are located — for the ‘Holi dahan’. And at Bhaktivedanta Manor, the largest Hindu temple in Europe, Holi is celebrated Brij-style by over 7,000 people. The late Beetle George Harrison who gifted the Manor, would be glad to know that the place resounds with songs on Holi.
America: The people who really know how to paint North America red, blue, green and yellow on Holi are the Indian Americans from Trinidad and Guyana. Last year, the Phagwati Parade in the Richmond Hill areas of Queens, New York, attracted over 40,000 people. The organisers had a word of caution, though — no throwing colour on police officers, one of the many precautions being taken after 9/11. Holi is also celebrated by The Hindu Students’ Council in most of its 80-plus universities in North America. For the techies at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Holi is another occasion to “enlighten people about Hindu culture and heritage”, but with a modern outlook. Organised by Sangam, MIT’s Indian Students’ Association, and the Hindu Students’ Council, the day finds students from Tuft’s, Harvard and Boston University also making a colourful splash at MIT. Vaibhav Rathi, Sangam’s cultural director, says post-Holi and the mid-terms in end-March, a night-long bhangra party called ‘Dhoom’ is organised where the non-Indian community also lets its hair down.
— Vijay Dutt in London, Pramit Pal Chaudhuri in New York and Neha Mehta in New Delhi