Holi ‘festival of colors’ celebrates spring

Participants of the Holi “festival of colors” event cover each other in powdered color on Manchester Field on Saturday, April 8, 2017.

McKenna Corson

People of all backgrounds attended the Kent Indian Association (KIA) Holi celebration Saturday, where people celebrated spring amongst clouds of color, music, food and games on Manchester Field.

Holi, also known as the “festival of colors,” is a festival celebrated across India to welcome spring with the throwing of colored powder and a large party.

The KIA’s Holi event brought the tradition to Kent State, allowing anyone to grab a packet of colored powder, eat a samosa, dance with their friends and meet new people.

Holi is traditionally celebrated the day after the full moon in the Hindu month of Phalguna, which takes place around early March, according to ReligionFacts. This year, Holi fell on March 13, however, due to inclement weather, KIA moved the date of celebration to April 8.

Ashwin Maniyan, the president of KIA, was proud of the turnout of the event.

“We were expecting around 400 to 450 people, and I definitely think that we are up there,” Maniyan said. “The goal was basically just to bring everyone together, because this is a big festival back home. It’s a mixture of American students, Indian students, and I’ve seen a lot of other international students as well. It’s unifying, and I love that.”

Colored powder was everywhere.

“To describe Holi in one word, it’s ‘colorful,’” Maniyan said.

Even as a bystander off to the side, Indian students would exclaim, “You need some color” and would proceed to smear vibrant yellows, blues, pinks and purples onto peers’ faces and hair. Indian students yelled “Happy Holi” and proceed to find another person too clean for the holiday of color.

Gina Madeline, a freshman pre-nursing major, and Rachel Freeman, a junior pre-nursing major, came to Holi to experience a culture completely different from their own.

“It’s so fun being around different people, and everyone is just having such a good time,” Madeline said.

“Everyone is so happy and nice and welcoming,” Freeman said. “(Indian students) don’t care who you are, and they’ll just rub color onto your face. It’s awesome. I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like this before in my life.”

Madeline and Freeman both saw the importance of learning new aspects of different cultures.

“I think that it’s important to be able to understand everyone,” Freeman said. “We’re all working toward peace. Why not do it by submerging yourself into the culture with everybody?”

Sri Sudha Mallika Tumu, a digital sciences graduate student and vice president of KIA, was glad to see others enjoy a holiday she holds so dear.

“Holi is the festival of colors, so this is like spreading the good over the evil,” Tumu said. “We celebrate a good harvest and that good reigns over evil. It’s all about spreading color all over everyone and having fun.”

Getting international and domestic students together to have fun was one of the goals of KIA’s Holi celebration, Tumu said.

“It’s like getting together all at once, and it doesn’t matter what nationality they belong to. It’s like we are all one,” Tumu said.

“The different colors indicate different people from different parts of the world,” Tumu continued. “So it’s like playing all together and mixing. People will hopefully make so many friends that they’ll unite and realize that they aren’t that different.”

Indian music blasted and people formed a mob of cheering, dancing and happy partiers. A conga line even formed and snaked around the group.

No one seemingly minded the fact that they’d have a load of laundry to do or that the air was filled with colored powder.

“This is the whole point of having a cohort education,” Maniyan said. “We traveled so far, and we see different American culture every day. I think this is a way of giving something back and showing how we celebrate back home in India.”

McKenna Corson is a diversity reporter, contact her [email protected].