A Riot of Colors

The Holi Festival in Taiwan

2019 / March

Esther Tseng /photos courtesy of Jimmy Lin /tr. by Scott Williams

Holi is one of India’s three biggest festivals. It is an egalit­arian holiday, the only day of the year on which Indians may set aside differences in caste and class to sprinkle or spray colored powders on one another.

Thanks to Mayur Srivastava, the Indian husband of a Taiwanese woman, people in Taiwan can now celebrate this joyful traditional Indian festival as well, no matter their nationality or religious beliefs. Whether you’re planning to celebrate the previous year’s abundance, welcome the year ahead, or just enjoy the party, Holi arrives in Taiwan on March 16 with a celebration at Taipei's Huashan 1914 Creative Park. Have you got your Holi colors ready?



Welcoming the spring

Jeffery Wu, director of the India Museum, Taiwan, says that Holi is also known as the “Festival of Colors,” adding that there are many explanations of the holiday’s origins.

The version of the origin story most common in India appears in the famous epic Mahabharata, and tells of an asura and king named Hiranyakashipu. Granted im­mortal­ity by the god Brahma, Hiranyakashipu becomes arrogant, violent and cruel, and bans his people from worship­ing ­Vishnu, instead demanding that they worship only him.

When Hiranyakashipu’s son Prahlada becomes a de­votee of Vishnu, the king grows enraged and repeatedly attempts to kill the prince. When these efforts fail, the king has the princess Holika, who cannot be harmed by fire, embrace the prince and leap into a pyre. But the prince remains unscathed, and Holika burns instead. Hiran­yaka­shipu’s subjects celebrate the prince’s goodness, his courage through this trial, and his safe emergence from it by sprinkling him with powdered pigments and water.

Srivastava, owner and head chef at Mayur Indian Kitchen, says that people in southern India now observe the Festival of Colors on the first day of spring. He explains that the holiday celebrates the end of the monochromatic winter, welcomes the return of the flowers and warmth of spring, and represents a prayer for an abund­ant harvest in the coming year. For this reason, Holi is also known as the Spring Festival.

On the day of the festival, locals play traditional Indian music, and dance and sing to the beat of the dholak, a two-headed hand drum. Young and old alike take to the streets with colored powders that they sprinkle or smear on one another to represent well wishes. Some fling whole handfuls of pigment in “attacks” that leave people covered from head to foot in a whole spectrum of colors and fill the air with powder; and mischievous children sometimes load buckets, balloons and water guns with colored water that they use to douse everyone they meet.

Sharing Indian culture

The Holi tradition dates back nearly 1,000 years in India. Carried abroad by Indian emigrants and students, it has recently become a global celebration as well.

Indians in Taiwan also celebrate Diwali, the Indian New Year, dressing up and gathering with their compatriots in November to light fireworks, dance, and eat seasonal dishes. Out of respect for the dietary restrictions of ­Jains, organizers of these gatherings make sure to include dishes that contain no root vegetables (such as potatoes, onions, or garlic).

“In India, we pass the New Year with our own ethnic and religious groups, but in Taiwan we celebrate together without regard for religious background. We’re like one big family,” says Shan Manish, head of the Taiwan Indian Club, who explains that these events help expatriate children become familiar with their own tradi­tional culture and customs, enabling them to better hold on to their roots.

Originally from Delhi, Srivastava has spent 12 years in Taiwan. His wife, children, and seven restaurants now make it feel like home. While Srivastava is well acquainted with Taiwan’s culture, he recognizes that many Taiwanese are not equally familiar with India’s. He began organizing Holi celebrations for the public here in 2013 to try to rectify that by increasing the general public’s awareness of Indian culture and stories. For this year’s celebrations, he’s arranged simultaneous events in Tai­pei, Tao­yuan and Hsin­chu that will feature perform­ances by Indian dance companies.

“Sweets are an important part of Indian celebrations,” adds Srivastava.

Those who buy tickets to his Holi events will therefore be provided with treats such as ­laddu (chickpea flour and ghee shaped into balls with nuts and syrup), ­gujiya (fried dumplings filled with dried fruits, nuts, and brown sugar), and vegetarian curry puffs, to introduce them to Indian food culture.

International Holi!

India has 21 states, and its citizens’ skin colors also vary with region. It is only on Holi that people are all the same, with everyone becoming a bright mix of hues. Srivastava stresses that Holi contains an important message: that everyone is equal regardless of color or wealth. During the holiday, everyone sings and dances, no matter their religion or ethnicity.

“When I was a boy, we always celebrated Holi with our neighbors in Delhi.” Speaking fluent Mandarin, Srivastava says it’s different in Taiwan, where more and more people are becoming aware of the festival, and where Brazilians, Spaniards and others take part in it. Since 2015, annual participation in his Holi events has exceeded 1,000 people, but only about one-­quarter of these have been Indians residing in Taiwan. The others have been Taiwanese and Taiwan residents of other national­ities, turning Taiwan’s Holi into an inter­national celebration.

Srivastava promotes Holi for another reason as well. He says that many people abroad think Taiwan is a province of mainland China. He hopes that the indi­viduals from 30-some nations who participate in Taiwan’s Holi will help correct that misunderstanding and let people abroad know that Taiwan is a wonderful country by posting stories and pictures of the festivities on social media.

“My children were born in Taiwan, so I hope Taiwan keeps getting better!” Mayur loves Taiwan even more than Taiwanese people do, and hopes that the Holi celebra­tions here become the largest in Asia outside of India itself.

What’s the best way to take part in the Holi festiv­ities? Don’t bring anything susceptible to water damage, like electronics, and do wear a plain T-shirt (expect it to be ruined). With these simple guidelines in mind you can play to your heart’s content, learn to forgive, and experience an aspect of Indian tradition. Are you ready to participate in wild and colorful Holi? Come enjoy a chromatic experience as the streets run with pigments and life takes on new hues!                        

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文・曾蘭淑 写真・林格立 翻訳・久保 恵子

カラフルな祭典、ホーリー祭(Holi Festival)は、インドの三大祭りの一つである。ホーリーとはヒンズー語で色彩の意味で、厳しいカースト制度の掟の中で、この日だけはカーストの違いを忘れて、互いに華やかな色彩の絵具をかけあって、仲よく平等に祭を過ごすのである。

台湾人女性と結婚し、中国名を有名なチェリストと同じ馬友友と言うインド人Mayur Srivastavaは、インド人の伝統的な祭礼を台湾でも行い、国籍や宗教を問わず、誰もが一緒に楽しめる祭とした。これまでの一年の収穫を祝い、新しい一年を迎え、思いきり大騒ぎするのだが、あなたは絵具は用意しただろうか。3月16日に台北華山クリエイティブパークで「Happy Holi!」と叫ぼうではないか。








台湾に来て30年余り、台北インド人協会の会長Vijay Kapadiaによると、台湾でのホーリー祭実施の歴史は古く、インドの人々は毎年ディーワーリーとホーリー祭を祝うという。



「インドでは各家庭で年越しをしますが、台湾では宗教に関らず、みなで大家族のように祝います」と台湾インド人協会のShan Manish会長は言う。こういったイベントにより、子孫に自分の伝統文化と風習を教え、異国にあっても祖国を忘れずにいられるのである。












文‧曾蘭淑 圖‧林格立

好麗色彩節(Holi Festival)是印度三大節慶之一,「Holi」 在印度語是「色彩節」的意思,在強調種姓制度的印度教規範中,只有這一天,可以讓人忘記種姓與階級的不同,向彼此潑灑五顏六色的顏料,一同平等過節。

由於一位印度女婿,與知名華裔大提琴家同名的馬友友(Mayur Srivastava)之倡議,讓印度人的傳統節慶在台灣,成為不分國籍、宗教,大家都可以一起歡樂的慶典。不論是紀念過去一年的豐收;或是迎接未來嶄新的一年;或只是想狂歡一場,你準備好五顏六色的顏料了嗎? 3月16日在台北華山文創園區一同高喊 「Happy Holi」!



好麗色彩節又叫灑紅節、五彩節,台灣夢想印度博物館館長吳德朗指出,好麗色彩節是印度的三大傳統節日之一。另外兩個重要的傳統節日:一是大約每年10月~11月之間的排燈節,就像新年;另一是在每年 9~10 月舉行的十勝節( Dussehra ),又名凱旋節,為慶祝羅摩( Rama )戰勝十首魔王拉瓦那( Ravan )而設的節日。




偏偏他的兒子Prahlad是虔誠崇敬毗濕奴的信徒,國王懷恨在心,屢次想謀害王子未成,最後國王找來不怕火的妹妹女妖霍利卡(Holika), 抱著王子跳入火堆,但王子安然無恙,反而霍利卡化為灰燼。人們為了慶祝王子平安無事,紛紛向王子灑上七色彩粉或水,讚頌他的善良和勇氣。

「馬友友印度廚房」主廚馬友友說,在印度南部,當地人會在春季的第一天慶祝色彩節,除了代表色彩單調的冬天已經結束,大地萬物即將重生,迎接春暖花開的春天;另外也有祈求新的一年五穀豐收之意。尤其是農民剛收割完稻穀,利用沒有耕種的農田種植花卉,而不同顏色的花卉作成天然的彩粉,正好用來慶祝色彩節。因此,好麗色彩節又叫印度春之節(Spring Festival of India)。




來到台灣已卅多年的台北印度人協會會長Vijay Kapadia說,台灣慶祝好麗色彩節歷史悠久,印度鄉親每年都會慶祝排燈節、色彩節。


「在印度我們是各自過年,反而因為在台灣,我們不分宗教,一起慶祝,大家就像一家人一樣。」台灣印度人協會會長Shan Manish說,透過這些活動也讓我們的子孫認識自己的傳統文化與習俗,人在異鄉也不忘本。










如何參加好麗色彩節?最好不要攜帶沒有防水的電子用品,穿著簡單的T恤,並且要有衣服全毀的心裡準備,盡情玩鬧、學習原諒並體驗印度傳統。你準備好參加瘋狂、七彩絢麗的好麗色彩節嗎? 體驗色彩的一天,街道是彩色的,人生是彩色的。                                                         

X 使用【台灣光華雜誌】APP!