New India Bazar Holi in San Francisco

How to celebrate Holi in San Francisco

Updated Holi events are listed at the bottom of this page

What is Holi?

Holi is a Hindu festival celebrated primarily in India and Nepal, but also in other countries with significant Hindu populations. It is also known as the Festival of Colors or the Festival of Love. The festival is observed on the full moon day in the Hindu month of Phalguna, which falls in February or March in the Gregorian calendar.


What are the origins of Holi?

The origins of Holi are traced back to ancient Hindu mythology and are associated with several legends and stories. One of the most widely recognized stories relates to the Hindu god Lord Vishnu and the demon king Hiranyakashipu. According to the legend, Hiranyakashipu acquired a boon from Lord Brahma that made him nearly invincible and he began to terrorize the world. His son, Prahlada, was a devout follower of Lord Vishnu, and this made Hiranyakashipu very angry. He tried several times to kill his son, but each time Lord Vishnu saved Prahlada. Finally, Holika, Prahlada's wicked aunt, tried to kill him by sitting with him in a blazing fire. However, Holika was burned to death, while Prahlada remained unharmed, protected by Lord Vishnu. This story is symbolic of the victory of good over evil and is celebrated as Holi.


Another popular legend associated with Holi is the story of Radha and Krishna. According to this legend, Krishna was jealous of Radha's fair complexion and asked his mother for a solution. His mother suggested that he should put color on Radha's face and thus, Krishna applied color on Radha and other gopis (young women). This story has become a part of the Holi celebration and the festival is now seen as a celebration of love and the coming of spring.


In terms of its importance, Holi is a celebration of the triumph of good over evil and is seen as a time for forgiveness, coming together with friends and family, and spreading love and happiness. The festival is also a celebration of spring, and the colorful powders and water used during the celebrations are symbolic of the renewal of life and the arrival of new growth and fertility. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm, and people come together to sing, dance, and throw colored powders on each other. Holi is an opportunity for people to put aside their differences and come together in a spirit of unity and joy.


Holi event San Francisco

If you'd like to celebrate Holi, stop by the shop and explore our wide range of holi colors, waterguns and fresh mithai!

When is Holi this year?

Holi will be celebrated on Wednesday March 8, 2023.


How is holi celebrated?

The festival of Holi is celebrated by smearing colored powder and water on each other, dancing to music, and exchanging sweets. People gather with friends and family to sing, dance, and feast. Holi is also associated with the Hindu mythology, and the story of Holika and Prahlad is often recited during the festival.


In addition to the fun and festivities, Holi also has a spiritual significance as a celebration of good over evil and the triumph of righteousness. It is a time to let go of past grudges, forget misunderstandings, and make amends with those who may have wronged us.


What are traditional foods eaten during Holi?

During Holi, people enjoy a variety of traditional foods that are specific to the festival. Here are some of the most popular foods that are consumed during Holi:


  1. Gujiya: A sweet dumpling made from a mixture of semolina, khoya (a type of milk solids), and sugar, flavored with cardamom and nutmeg, and deep-fried until golden brown.

  2. Mathri: A type of crispy and flaky cracker that is usually savory and flavored with carom seeds, cumin seeds, or red chili powder.

  3. Thandai: A refreshing and cooling drink made from a blend of milk, almonds, poppy seeds, rose petals, and a variety of spices.

  4. Puran Poli: A sweet and rich bread made from a mixture of whole wheat flour, chickpea flour, and jaggery (unrefined cane sugar).

  5. Papri chaat: A popular street food made from papri (crispy fried dough wafers), boiled potatoes, chickpeas, yogurt, tamarind chutney, and spices.

These are just a few of the foods that are traditionally enjoyed during Holi. In addition to these, people also enjoy other sweets and snacks, such as ladoos (sweet balls), jalebis (deep-fried spirals of batter soaked in syrup), and masoor dal ke pakode (spiced lentil fritters).

Where can I celebrate Holi?

There are many Holi events occuring around the Bay Area, but if you're trying to only celebrate in San Francisco, we've compiled a list of Holiy events in San Francisco.


San Francisco State University Holi

Location: San Francisco State University
Time: Friday, March 11th at 10am
RSVP: For students only

SFSU Holi event
BAPS San Francisco

Location: 950 Avalon Ave, San Francisco, CA 94112

Time: Saturday, March 4th at 4pm

RSVP: Just show up!

Red Baraat: Festival of Colors Concert

Location: 201 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Time: Saturday, March 25th at 7:30pm

RSVP: Buy tickets at the link above

Glow in the Dark Holi

Location: 1538 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Time: Friday, March 10th at 10:00pm
RSVP: Buy tickets at the link above

Back to blog