MGH is welcoming the arrival of spring with an art exhibit in the corridors of the main hospital honoring Holi. Holi (Sanskrit: होली Holī) is a Hindu spring festival that is celebrated across the Indian subcontinent and by the greater South Asian diaspora across the world. Aside from being the festival of colors, Holi is a time to celebrate unbridled joy, love, and the triumph of good over evil. Through visual art, this installation highlights some of the spirit and traditions associated with Holi such as throwing colored powder and spraying colored water through pichkari at friends and family and poojas (religious ceremonies).
This installation highlights the art and creative works of local and international artists. The colors, stories and themes of Holi have been printed on canvas for all to enjoy. From Sunanda Sahay’s traditional Madhubani art reflecting the ancient narrative of Krishna playing holi with his consorts, to Dr. Sidhartha Pani’s oil paintings depicting the colors and gestures of celebration, the artwork to welcomes the change of season and celebrates this time of new harvest. This collection also includes the stunning photography of international artists that have captured the joyful essence of the festivities in India, as well as local photographer Dharmendra Acharya, and the photography of MGH’s Chief Emeritus of Arthroscopic Surgery, Dr. Dinesh Patel. These images bring to our walls the beauty of nature as well as the visual representations of this festival, including the sights, sounds, tastes and fragrances, and of course, the action of throwing colored powdered at friends and family.
Colonialism and The Diaspora
This exhibit captures a sliver of the South Asian diaspora, which traces its origin to the British colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent. Following the abolition of slavery in the British empire in the early 19th century, indentured servitude began to supply cheap and abundant Indian labor around the world. South Asian emigrants accepted years-long labor contracts without pay in exchange for passage to other British colonies in Africa, the Caribbean, and the south Pacific in the hopes of seeking a better life. These South Asians went on to establish vibrant communities that are especially prominent in countries such as Guyana, South Africa, and Fiji. Surges in immigration starting in the late 20th century have led more recently to large South Asian communities in North America, Europe, and Australia as well.
History and Health Equity
The Holi art exhibit gives us an opportunity to bring awareness to the health of our South Asian Community. Despite high rates of representation in the healthcare service industry, South Asians are particularly susceptible to heart disease and diabetes especially compared to their white counterparts. South Asians are more likely to suffer from heart attacks and from fatal heart attacks than any other ethnic group. This exhibit is an opportunity to celebrate one aspect of South Asian culture while acknowledging the diversity with the community with regards to nationality, religion, and socioeconomic status, which all factor into the disparities we see particularly in cardiovascular health. The art opens the door to support, community and conversation.
We Stand Together
The launch of this exhibit coincides with heartbreaking hate crimes against Asian-Americans that have spiked in recent months due to rhetoric blaming them for the spread of Covid-19. This exhibit is an opportunity to acknowledge the racism experienced by our Asian and Pacific Islander community and stand together as allies against racist violence across our nation and world. Through the power of art and health equity awareness, we will continue stand with our diverse community. We believe in reciprocity and gratitude for the diversity, spirit and stories of our different cultures and their celebrations.
Art Celebrates Community
In the spirit of Holi, please find an extra facet of healing, and enjoy this colorful exhibit of celebration and community.