Image from Disney
By Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer
Holi is considered as one of the most revered and celebrated festivals of India and it is celebrated in almost every part of the country and in every part of the world where there is a large South Asian Indian diaspora. It is the festival of colors with people throwing bright colored powder or balloons at one another all reminiscent of joy and building a sense of community and belonging.
This weekend marks this auspicious and joyous festival, with Disney Junior releasing episodes to commemorate this. Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures and Mira, Royal Detective (Disney Junior’s latest series which is inspired by the cultures and customs of India), is all based on the theme of “Holi”.
In order for it to be culturally accurate and sensitive, Disney has bought in a cultural consultant – Shagorika (Shago) Ghosh Perkins to ensure these episodes were culturally accurate and using color pallets which represents the regions of India the animations are based on – being the “festival of colors”. In an interview with AsAmNews, Ghosh Perkins highlighted the importance of colors in India and how it was imperative to get it right.
“India is a very colorful. Different regions have different color combinations, so it was important for both episodes to identify the right colors for the region that the episodes were based in.”
“For example, Mira, Royal Detective kingdom is in the city of Jaipur, which is in Rajasthan. The state is pretty much a desert and the people from that state are colorful with earthy tones and bright colors – lots of oranges, gold and maroons.”
As a cultural consultant and a consulting producer, Ghosh Perkins had to use all the experiences and knowledge she gained from working in marketing communications, and on multicultural campaigns she had worked prior which dealt with businesses between South Asia and the US. Taking all of this to Disney Junior has not only expanded and broadened her ideas on the animation, but it has allowed her to bring the true meaning and feeling of “Holi” to those watching it.
“It definitely complemented it. My learnings from over 20 years in multicultural consulting in marketing and advertising has given me an in depth view of what people are looking for in Asian markets and in the US- and this is what I bought to the “Holi” themed episodes at Disney Junior. I have basically worked to merge the two cultures and colors together.”
Finally, these “Holi” themed episodes from Disney Junior will have a major impact on South Asian American children. Not only will they be educated on their own culture, traditions and festivities, but also see representation and visibility which is something of a rarity on Western TV and film. Ghosh Perkins alludes to the idea that her hopes are that these episodes will give South Asian kids everywhere a sense of belonging and community.
“Representation is key. In many ways, the US is similar to India in that there is a huge diversity in cultures and people and this diversity in all aspects is important for the younger generations to learn about.
“It is such a great space for kids to feel they are represented and it allows others who are not from the South Asian/Indian culture to have an understanding and appreciation of differences and diversity – after all Holi is a tradition of bringing people together in joyous celebration.”
Holi themed Mira, Royal Detective and Mickey Mouse Mixed-Up Adventures can be viewed on Disney Junior from this weekend.
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