Ruth writes: Toronto’s multicultural community was out celebrating spring and a new year with a vengeance this past weekend. Fortunately the weather cooperated. The two events I managed to get to were India’s Holi and Thailand’s Songkran.
The Thai event was billed as a “Massive Water Fight”. It was at the Nana Restaurant at 785 Queen Street. There for $40, staff gave you a water pistol, a supply of ammunition, and a 10-course meal. Songkran was sold-out in advance so if you want to go next year, do book early.
The Nana Restaurant was the only place I found in downtown Toronto where people playfully get each other wet indoors. There’s probably water splashing at some Buddhist temple events outdoors in our suburbs. The Nana celebration had its bar and paintings protected with a plastic barrier.
A brave waitress carried the food through the mayhem to each table or standing customer.
Traditionally, the water is a symbolic cleansing of the previous year’s sins. but in countries like southern China, Myanmar, and Laos, it is a big public water fight with participants getting everyone else soaked with buckets or plastic AK-47s full of water.
Most of the people in the Nana didn’t look Thai and they tended to get only their friends wet. I was only squirted once in the 20 minutes I dared to stay there with a camera.
The Holi festival was outdoors near Woodbine Beach. There, everybody seemed to be fair game for a slathering of coloured powder.
Those in the middle of the action were quickly turned into smiling zombies.
The event was free and volunteers sold bags of ammunition.
Bollywood style music got people dancing.
We were in a large picnic area so people could move around more than in a crowded restaurant. People were very friendly and generous with the powder.
Most of them were Indian but I met people of Japanese, Korean, French, Nepalese and Ecuadorian origin.
The festival originated in India to commemorate the appearance there of an incarnation of Lord Krishna in 1486 but I don’t think any of the revelers thought about that. It also marks the end of winter and the victory of good over evil. Holi is celebrated in Hindu temples in Toronto too and some allow the powders, if thrown out of doors. Ours was just pure fun.
New year and spring celebrations continue now for a couple of weeks in Toronto. This Saturday has a Lao festival and in two weeks a Burmese one. Both are delightful and focused more on the Buddhist aspect of the occasion. There’s also a wonderful outdoor Ukrainian spring welcome in Trinity Bellwoods Park on April 19.
Keep consulting our Calendar for information: http://bit.ly/1NwGAOt . Our volunteer Kasey updates it continuously.
Note: I was able to wash off the colours easily, but it turned our white bath tub pink.