Sticky pastel colors have never been exciting for me. Back in India, I would dread the festival of Holi every year yet, my mother would enthusiastically talk about how celebrating festivals as a family was essential. When that wouldn’t work, she would resort to emotional pleas such as expressing how hurt she would be if I didn’t participate in coloring every family member in strange shades of pink, yellow, green, and blue while they would do the same to me.
Even though I would complain about how it’s not exciting to be slapped with water balloons or color sprays, all I’ve wished for these past few days is to have my mother compel me to play Holi with everyone. Lucky for me, I moved to a major city in the US where a huge Indian population resides. On Saturday, March 4, 2023, I played Holi with strangers for the first time in my life and ended up making friends in the process. "The Holi at Navy Pier" is an enormous celebration where the Indian community from all over the city shows up in one place to celebrate one of India’s major festivals. I’d been hearing about this event since the beginning of February 2023. I was extremely excited about it, but I wish I had known more. I hope my experiences can help people at the Illinois Institute of Technology prepare better for events hereon.
Holi weekend started on the night of Friday, March 3, 2023, for me, with a Bollywood party at Tunnel Nightclub. While that was a lot of fun, it was also extremely tiring. Yet, I decided not to miss the event at the Navy Pier. I had planned on commuting from Downtown, Chicago taking the bus 124 from West Loop to the Navy Pier, two hours after the event had already started since it was supposed to start from 1 PM to 5 PM. However, due to heavy traffic, the buses were delayed. I was told by the CTA bus driver that it would take well over an hour to reach the pier. I decided to try to take a train but there were no routes I could take without getting on a bus. Finally, after contemplating many different options, I decided to walk. Since it was a 50-minute-long walk from West Loop to the Navy Pier, I arrived at the party only 30 minutes before the celebration ended as it turned out, the DJ was only live until 4 PM. The location was crowded enough that it took me the entire 30 minutes to find the people I was meeting up with. Most of it seemed like a waste of time however, on the bright side, I came home with a face and head full of color smelling the way I used to in India rushing back home to shower as soon as possible, some fun pictures to share with the family, and many tiny but funny moments to cherish.
This event gave me an outlet to meet people who made my first festival away from home feel less lonely and more colorful. It is in fact, an event not only attended by the Indian community in Chicago but also by people from many different communities accompanying their friends and family or joining to experience the fun. As for students at Illinois Tech, access to the Navy Pier is easy. I will definitely try and reach right at the beginning of the event next year though as that ensures experiencing the entire event and less traffic in transit. Wishing everyone at Illinois Tech a very Happy Holi!