Spring colors fly at Hindu holiday

Bright pink and sherbet-orange powder dusted the grass of Bruff Quad. Neon colors coated clothing and hair, and the rainbow residue even found its way into elevators campus-wide. The colorful calamity around campus was, in fact, the calm after the storm, paling in comparison to the excitement of Tulane’s Holi celebration that took place shortly before.

Many may have recognized the colored powders simply as the effect of a color run, but there is far more cultural importance — and little to no running.

Holi, also called “Holika,” “Phagwa” and the “Festival of Colors,” is a Hindu holiday held to celebrate the coming of spring and the triumph of good over evil. While typically held in March, Tulane’s festival was rescheduled due to weather.

“This was the first time I celebrated Holi in my life, since it is mostly a north India[n] tradition,” said freshman Sai Nedu, member of the India Association of Tulane University. “But, I truly enjoyed it and it was a lot of fun throwing color at people, spending some good quality time with my friends and engaging in a fun, de-stressing event. And this seemed to be the general consensus amongst the people that came to the event.”

IATU worked diligently to promote the festival by tabling on McAlister, posting on Facebook and compiling a few captivating videos to attract a wide audience of students.

The promotion was successful — the well-attended event took place at Bruff Quad and featured various traditional food, including samosas, a potato-and-pea filled pastry encased in a flour wrap, pakoras, a fried onion dish, and gulab jamun, a donut-hole like dessert, fried and soaked in syrup and garnished with pistachios. IATU also offered ice cream from Creole Creamery.

“Holi, for the longest time, used to be a festival that celebrated the arrival of spring, which meant new and bountiful harvest of crops,” Nedu said. “Also, this was the one day when castes were broken and people embraced each other and celebrated the past year as well as welcomed the upcoming year with color and beauty. However, in today’s world, Holi is a very social event that just represents spending some good time with friends and family and bringing color into one’s life.”

Holi is one of the least formal of Hindu holidays, thus explaining the temporary dissolution of the caste system and generally carefree atmosphere, perfect for students at Tulane on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

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