Vaudreuil-Dorion celebrates Holi – the festival of colours
PHOTO BY JOHN JANTAK
Vaudreuil-Dorion residents got a taste of India as members from the Indian community celebrated
Holi – the annual festival of colours – at the Jean-Marc Ducharme Community centre on
Saturday, March 7. About 300 people took part in the festivities including Mayor Guy Pilon and
federal NDP Member of Parliament Jamie Nicholls. Th e event was staged by the Indo-Canadian
Organization of Montreal. For more photos, see our Facebook page.
Vaudreuil-Dorion residents got a taste of India as members from the Indian community celebrated Holi – the annual festival of colours – at the Jean- Marc Ducharme Community centre on Saturday afternoon, March 7. About 300 people participated in the festivities including Mayor Guy Pilon and Jamie Nicholls, the federal NDP Member of Parliament (MP) for Vaudreuil-Soulanges.
The festival was staged by the Indo-Canadian Organization of Montreal (ICO M) and it was the first time Holi was celebrated in the region. The three-hour long event featured indoor kiosks that showcased various aspects of Indian culture. The festival culminated in an hour-long celebration that featured the throwing of paint powder up into the air and people smearing the powder onto participant’s faces in the parking lot outside the community center. ICOM board member and spokesperson Jasmine Sharma said she was delighted with the turnout and was pleased that both Mayor Pilon and MP Nicholls participated.
“From ICOM’s perspective, we find that Vaudreuil-Dorion is actually very engaged within our community,” Sharma told Your Local Journal. “They’ve put together a series of initiatives to get different groups to feel comfortable and at home here. “It’s also nice that Mayor Pilon took the time to come out,” Sharma added. “He said it himself; the South Asian community is a vibrant one in the region and it’s a growing community as well. It was humbling to have him here. It shows that he sees cultural communities as a priority.”
Pilon said he was pleased to participate in the festival which shows the city’s commitment to its diverse cultural communities. The city also donated $2,500 to help ICOM stage the event. “I’m very happy to be here,” said Pilon. “If different cultural communities want to organize events, we will help to make it easier for them. It also helps us to make positive inroads into the community.”
Nicholls and his wife Amanda Mac- Donald said they were thrilled to have been invited to participate in the event and they both partook in the outdoor throwing of the powdered paint. “The region’s demographics are changing and a sizable Indian community has come to our region,” said Nicholls. “It was an honour to be invited to celebrate one of their festivals with them. It’s a great spring festival also known as the festival of love. It’s a very positive celebration and I was happy to be there with my wife.”
Sharma said it was exciting to see both Nicholls and MacDonald involved in the outdoor revelry. “I know they were hesitant at first,” said Sharma. “We gave them both protective covers for their clothing because even if you’re just watching, you can get sprayed by the powder. But I guess the joy was contagious and they had to join in. It was nice to see that.”
The success of this year’s Holi festival is already prompting ICOM to consider staging it again next year. “I think we’ve built some good relationships with the city and they see that we organize quality events. We hope to bring Holi back to Vaudreuil-Dorion,” said Sharma. “It was amazing,” said resident Pam Sidhu-Mahal.
“I personally have never participated in a Holi festival where you’re throwing colours. It was a lot of fun. People who didn’t know each other were throwing colours on each other. It was a very inviting atmosphere with the music, people dancing and pasting colours on other people’s faces.”