It was just like before the virus upended the world. Bollywood songs, colors, festive food and laughter filled Priya Living in Santa Clara, California on March 26.
Thanks to the coronavirus vaccines, the Indian-American seniors who call Priya Living their home could let their hair down and have fun on Holi, the festival of colors, the old-fashioned way — in which there was only social and no distance.
Mahesh Nihalani, who serves as a community director at Priya Living, was all smiles and dancing to Hindi songs.
“Holi 2021 was so much fun! Happiness is back in our lives,” Nihalani told indica News. “Everyone was full of joy and sang and danced and played with color! The fun of life was back.”
He said around 25 seniors played Holi this year. All participants and seniors are vaccinated, as are the staff members of Priya Living.
“Our seniors are happy that the worst time is kind of over and happier days will be here shortly,” Nihalani said.
He said they never thought would be able to celebrate Holi because even as late as January the only thought among the seniors was when the vaccine would come.
“They were anxiously waiting for the vaccines and a little skeptical with all kinds of social media news about whether to take the vaccine or not,” Nihalani admitted.
Last year, there was no Holi celebration at Priya Living.
“Sadly we did not celebrate Holi since the Covid had just started and the lockdown was announced and social distancing and other protocols were put into place. Senior residents were all scared and very uncertain about what’s going to happen with their lives,” Nihalani said.
Since the pandemic hit last year, seniors were not able to meet each other and many even left to live with their children. All events and were virtual but Nihalani sounded pleased that seniors were not impacted by Covid-19.
“Looking back we feel that observing the protocol and taking the right steps of social distancing, wearing face masks, and not going out was a wise decision. The year went past without any incident at Priya Living,” he said.
“All seniors were kept healthy and happy,” he said.
Priya Living started in 2013, the first of its kind senior living facility for the desi community in the San Francisco Bay Area.
A few seniors thanked Nihalani for hosting the Holi celebration.
“I played with color first time in 57 years of being in the US,” said Geetha, who uses just one name.
Jamnu and Savitri Tahiliani said: “All of last year’s mixed feelings and sometimes sad moments experienced during the Covid lockdown just turned into just joy and happiness with the fun we had at this Holi at Priya Living.”
Geetha Iyengar and Shankar Ujjani, two more residents of Priya Living, also said they “thoroughly enjoyed the colorful Holi celebration.”