Holi festival showcases Indian culture on campus
Loud music, colorful powder, great food and celebration: These characterize the festival of Holi.
Holi is an Indian festival celebrated in India and Nepal, as well as by their respective diasporas. The festival was originally a Hindu religious festival but has become associated with broader Indian culture regardless of religious belief. Holi, also known as the festival of color, is celebrated by throwing colored powder at each other. Colored water fired from water guns has also been used.
The origins of the festival aren’t quite known, but there are legends that may provide an answer. One legend is about Prahlad, a great devotee of the Hindu god Vishnu. Prahlad was the son of the demon king, Hiranyakashipu. The king had been granted a boon by the god Brahma that allowed Hiranyakashipu to be indestructible to all creatures created by Brahma. The king grew in arrogance due to his invincibility; he demanded that all worship him as a god. Prahlad refused. This angered Hiranyakashipu, who subjected Prahlad to many cruel punishments. One punishment was given by Holika, Hiranyakshipu’s sister. She attempted to burn Prahlad alive on a pyre, but Holika herself was burned instead. The name “Holi” is said to derive from Holika, and the celebration of the festival traditionally included the lighting of a pyre to celebrate good triumphing over evil.
The other legend comes from the story of Krishna, an avatar of Vishnu. Krishna had been poisoned as a child, which left his skin stained blue. He fell in love with a young maiden named Radha. Krishna confessed to his mother that he felt Radha would never love him due to his unusual skin color. His mother told him he should ask Radha if he could color her skin with powder so they could be together. He did so, and she accepted. This legend helps to explain Holi’s connection with celebration, love and relationships.
Last Saturday, the Indian Student Association brought this festival to campus. The Indian Student Association has had previous success with their Diwali festival. Entrance to the event cost $2, and participants were provided with packets of colored powder, as well as food and refreshments.
The campus celebration was characterized by students getting into powder fights, dancing to the music and enjoying the sweet and savory confections. Faces were marked with both powder and smiles as the ideals of love, color and springtime were brought to campus with this celebration of Indian culture.