Penn Museum presents ‘Hello India!’

Happy Holi-days!

Home to 1.3 billion people, India is a complex and diverse country filled with many cultures and traditions. On Saturday, the Penn Museum presented Hello India!, part of its World Culture Day celebration.

Sharing the love at the Penn Museum's Holi celebration.

 A visual feast

Featuring music and dance presentations, an introduction to Karnatakan cooking, yoga, film, art and crafts, games originating from India, sari wrapping, henna, and more, the event culminated with a “carnival of colors” in honor of the Hindu festival of Holi, a holiday celebrating the coming of spring in which people cover one another in colorful powders and paints. Holi dates at least to the fourth century BCE; explanations of its origins blend a number of stories from Hindu mythology. 

Celebrations differ from region to region, but generally the festival spans two days and sometimes includes drinking a cocktail called bhang lassi, a marijuana-infused yogurt drink, or banging men over the heads with long sticks (it's all in fun, and the men get to use shields to protect themselves). The Penn Museum stuck to a family-friendly menu, but aside from that, hardly held back. There was no better way to enjoy such a visually thrilling day except through the lens of a camera. 

Madhuri Sharma of Masala Meals, a family-owned spice company, discusses the Ayurvedic 
principles of Karnatakan traditional cooking. 
Attendees are encouraged to use their noses to explore different spices commonly used in Karnatakan cooking. In the sunny Kintner Gallery, Sky Foundation's Vijayendra Pratap, Ph.D., teaches the ancient system of classical yoga. A visitor (L) dons a silk sari. Rita, a Bharatiya Temple member (R), wears cotton. Silk is for celebration, while cotton is for everyday use As part of her daily prayers, Ranjani Suresh uses rangoli, an art form in which sand, lentils, and flower petals create intricate patterns. With Suresh's guidance, children create their own traditional rangoli designs. Children also learned to play games that originated in India, such as parcheesi, chutes and ladders, and chess. Colored rice flour, ready and waiting to be used by participants as they play, chase, and daub each other in celebration of Holi. Let the games begin! Student volunteers and their family are the first to color each other in celebration. One attendee chose to have color placed carefully on his face... Some little ones were a bit cautious with their color... ...while others went all in! At the end of the day, the celebration was all about love, family, fun, and games!

Sign Up For Our Newsletter

Want previews of our latest stories about arts and culture in Philadelphia? Sign up for our newsletter.