Holi, the Festival of Colors, is a Hindu and Sikh celebration of the arrival of spring. Although it was celebrated in India this year on the first of March, the Indian embassy wanted to spread the love (and the colors) and decided to recreate the festival for Indians and visitors alike on Friday, 19 March.
"It’s the first time we put the event on Facebook," explains Hassan Bahgat, one of the organizers whose cell phone number on the facebook Holi Festival group page. "I’m glad so many people are coming, but I get around 20 calls a day!" In fact, it’s surprising he’s getting so few calls as the Facebook event had 651 confirmed guests by Friday morning and people from the embassy were getting a little worried.
Sunny Ind, an Indian businessman who moved to Cairo and is the event’s Facebook promoter, arrived in Cairo the night before the event with extra colors for the festivities. Ind explains that the festival is organized annually by the Indian Community Association of Egypt. This year, Ind wanted to "invite Egyptian friends to share in our Indian culture." Ind believes that this is a "time for cultural exchange between the people of both countries. This is important for mutual understanding and appreciation."
According to attendees, the event was originally planned for Friday, 12 March, but after the death of Sheikh Tantawy, the Indian embassy felt it was important to show their respect and not celebrate. But the wait was worth it as the festival was packed with color-happy well wishers, many of whom were not Indian, covered in multicolored powder paint and trying their best to jive to Bollywood’s finest Indian songs.
The event was catered mainly by Taj Alsultan, an Indian "Museum and Restaurant" in the Egyptian Indian Institution for Restaurants and Tourism Management located downtown. The food was a fabulous collection of Indian favorites including fried bread with dhal (lentil dip) and papadum (fried dough filled with vegetables) with mint sauce.