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Press Release

Neighbors of All Faiths Celebrate Spring with Hindu Holi Festival of Colors at Somerset Hills YMCA

byKisha Belton |
  • Somerset Hills YMCA - Mt. Airy

Kisha Belton
Somerset County YMCA 
908-766-7898 x344

Basking Ridge, NJ, March 20, 2017 – On Thursday March 9, 2017, an enthusiastic crowd of nearly 300 community members of all faiths enjoyed traditional Indian food, music and dancing for the second annual Holi Festival held at Somerset Hills YMCA, a branch of Somerset County YMCA. Holi is a traditional Hindu festival to celebrate the beginning of spring with its abundant colors and vibrant life. Using colorful Gulal powder and water, participants painted themselves with the colors of the season and learned more about this Hindu tradition.

The Y is a charitable organization made up of diverse people working side-by-side to strengthen community. The Holi Festival is one of several events organized by Somerset Hills YMCA’s cultural engagement committee, a volunteer-led group created to celebrate the customs and traditions of different cultures in our increasingly diverse community, so everyone feels connected and welcome at the Y.

“We are proud to host such a festive celebration at our Y,” said Marc Koch, Somerset Hills YMCA executive director. “The event was a great success thanks in large part to our cultural engagement committee volunteers, who organize initiatives that celebrate the diverse cultures of our community.”

The cultural engagement committee is always looking for ways to engage new members who can bring their own unique knowledge about their cultures to our Y and the community at large, according to Greg Toombs of Basking Ridge, committee co-chair.

"Our Holi celebration brought a lot of Indian families from the community to our Y—many for the first time,” said Rachna Mathur of Mendham, co-chair of Somerset Hills YMCA’s cultural engagement committee. “These families proudly shared their culture with their neighbors of different faiths—each gaining a greater understanding for the other.”

“The Y is committed to increasing cultural engagement within our communities,” said David M. Carcieri, president and CEO of Somerset County YMCA. “We believe that with a greater understanding and acceptance of our differences, we can grow into a stronger, more supportive community where individuals feel comfortable being themselves and have every opportunity to thrive.”

Basking Ridge resident Beckie Laubscher shared the sentiment of many attendees saying, “It is important to me that my family knows and loves people of all cultures. The more we know and understand each other, the more love there is to share.”

To join the Y’s cultural engagement committee, or to learn more about volunteer opportunities at Somerset Hills YMCA, please visit

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About the Somerset County YMCA

The Y is the nation’s leading nonprofit committed to strengthening the community through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. At Somerset County YMCA, we believe everyone, regardless of age, income or background, should have the opportunity to learn, grow and thrive. For information about Somerset County YMCA and financial assistance, visit us at


Holi 2017 (1)

PHOTO CAPTION: Basking Ridge residents Beckie Laubscher and Jackie Karl had fun experiencing and learning more about their Hindu neighbors’ traditions at the Holi Festival of Colors.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Friends Sahil Guglani, Philippa Jongen and Suhanee Guglani of Bedminster had an amazing experience at the Holi Festival of Colors at Somerset Hills YMCA.

Holi 2017 (4)

PHOTO CAPTION: Regan and Lisa Robinson of Basking Ridge appreciate that their community is inclusive of all cultures.

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PHOTO CAPTION: The Holi Festival of Colors is entirely volunteer led. Somerset County YMCA President and CEO, David M. Carcieri, stops to say hello to Board Chair, Mark Irwin of Basking Ridge, Somerset Hills YMCA Cultural Engagement Committee Co-Chair, Greg Toombs of Basking Ridge and Somerset Hills YMCA Board Member, Art Raynes of Basking Ridge.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Basking Ridge family Silky Kamdar, Dipen Kamdar and their son Ravi Kamdar enjoyed celebrating the Hindu Festival of Colors with friends at Somerset Hills YMCA.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Somerset County YMCA President and CEO, David M. Carcieri, and Somerset Hills YMCA Cultural Engagement Committee, Co-Chair Rachna Mathur of Mendham, proudly decorated in Gulal powder at the Holi Festival of Colors.

Holi 2017 (12)

PHOTO CAPTION: Siblings Sean and Molly Laska and Margaret Dukes of Basking Ridge enjoy learning about Hindu traditions with Somerset Hills YMCA Branch Executive Director, Marc Koch and Somerset County YMCA President and CEO, David M. Carcieri.