A previous Holi celebration at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. File photo

A previous Holi celebration at Lake Sammamish State Park in Issaquah. File photo

Holi 2020 returning to Lake Sammamish State Park

Festival of color is a celebration of spring.

With color, dance, food, and fun, the Eastside Friends and Family Holi Festival of Colors is returning to Lake Sammamish State Park.

Nonprofit Ravishing Women (RW) and the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Folk and Traditional Arts Program are hosting the annual celebration from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. on March 15.

The event is free, organized primarily by RW’s Ravishing Youth Board, in partnership with various community organizations, including the city of Issaquah. The event is open for everyone, with the goal of bridging cultural gaps and celebrating together.

An ancient Hindu religious festival, Holi festival of color has become popular with many communities and cultures around the world. It is a celebration of love, fertility, color and the victory of good over evil. It also marks the beginning of spring.

It’s known as a free-for-all carnival of color with participants playing and chasing each other with colored water and dry color powder. Color must be obtained from official event staff, as no outside color is allowed due to state park rules.

Menka Soni, president and founder of Ravishing Women, and husband Ashish, started the event in 2010 at Lake Sammamish State Park.

Soni said her favorite part of the event is, “playing with colors so that each one of us looks the same in all colors.”

“I believe this is a good way to remove differences and enjoy the same color of fun, love and peace. A perfect way to celebrate festivals together,” she added.

The Holi event has gained popularity over time and features color play, dancing with Bollywood music and Indian vegetarian food. There also will be traditional Bollywood dance performances.

The family-friendly event also has competitions like best dancer and most colorful, as well as kids activities including salmon painting.

Soni said they are still looking for support by way of donations, volunteers and sponsors. They are also still accepting any performance group that wants to showcase their talent.

“This is a community and public event and cannot be done without community support,” she said. “We started this as a community, families getting together, and it has helped to bridge community gaps and make it a big celebration with so many people from all diversity and different regions coming together to play Holi.”

She also said the event has supported various charity projects throughout the year.

RW has founded and organized various diverse community and cultural events, as well as cultural pageants and North America Fashion Week.

Soni said their vision is to, “encourage, inspire, appreciate and empower women,” and their mission is to, “be a catalyst to enable women to enhance and develop their quality of life by creating opportunities encompassing educational, socio-economic and behavioral transformations.”

Proceeds from the event — donations and the sales of food and color — will go toward providing nutritious meals to underprivileged school children in Pauni, Maharashtra, as well as Lucknow and Kanpur, Uttar Pradesh, India. The meals are prepared by single moms of the De’haat Foundation, giving them jobs so they can send their kids to school.

More details can be found online at www.ravishingwomen.org.

Further event details, as well as videos and photos from past Holi festivals, can be found on the Facebook Page “Eastside Holi” online at https://www.facebook.com/EastsideHoli/.

Registration is not required, but RSVPs are encouraged to aid in logistical planning. People can RSVP for their free ticket or pre-order food and color online at https://bit.ly/2VktiOe.

Community partners supporting the event include FISH (Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery), Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Washington State Parks Foundation, city of Issaquah Arts Commission, Lake Sammamish State Park, Friends of Lake Sammamish State Park, and Bellevue Issaquah Chapter of Trout Unlimited.

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