Festival honors arrival of spring

Holi Festival

On Sunday afternoon, the University Green was anything but green.

The Indian Students Association (ISA) and the Hindu Students Council (HSC) held their first Holi event on campus, which is also known as the Festival of Colors. The festival honors the arrival of spring and its rich colors. To celebrate, participants throw colored powder at each other.

“I love the paints, just grabbing it by the handful and smearing it on someone,” junior Nicholas Ley said. “It brought so many people together who would have never hung out.”

In previous years, the festival had been held at a nearby park or beach. However, this year, ISA and HSC decided to host the event on campus to include more people.

“Students see us celebrate with dance teams and costumes but not a lot of people have been exposed to this,” ISA President Richa Taneja said. “I’m hoping students enjoyed and appreciated this.”

The colors used Sunday were purchased in India by a student who visited during winter break.

“We got a bunch of different colors,” ISA Vice President Ronak Patel said. “I think purple stood out most.”

Before the paint-flinging began, participants ate lunch and enjoyed a special treat made by Aruna Airan, the adviser for both ISA and HSC. In honor of the deity Ram’s birthday, Airan made Halwa, a dessert made from cream of wheat, butter, sugar and water.

“They all kept telling me they liked it,” Airan said. “It’s something homemade like they would have at home.”

Holi, however, is not just about getting messy. It commemorates events from Hindu mythology, when the demon, Holika, was defeated by the deity, Narasimha. In some parts of India, it is also the celebration of a new year and the defeat of evil by good.

“In India, there are a lot of religions, the holidays are cultural, but also have religious meaning and are fun,” HSC President Noopur Ghade said. “I think it’s cool how holidays bring everyone together.”

Siddardtha Umapathy, the freshman representative of ISA, was thrilled to experience his first Holi. Umapathy is from Southern India where Holi is not generally celebrated. His favorite part of the festival was the creative ways the members found to get colorful.

“We had a slip and slide we put colors on,” Umapathy said. “Technically it’s not traditional, but we came up with new aspects to make the event better.”

This article originally appeared in The Miami Hurricane on April 1, 2012.