Streaks of neon particles flew from the hands of students, covering the surrounding area in a thick, technicolor cloud. Students covered their faces as their friends poured bags of colorful paint dust onto their heads. Everyone’s white clothes were stained from head to toe with bright colors.
The South Asian Students Association organized the Holi holiday event on April 4, on Western’s Communications Facility lawn. Over the course of the afternoon, around 200 students attended the event despite the winds and light showers.
Holi is a festival commonly celebrated in South Asian countries such as India, where people throw colored powder, honoring the beginning of spring and end of winter.
Junior Niveda Ganesh is the president of the South Asian Students Association. Ganesh, along with other club volunteers, participated in the festivities.
“Holi is the festival of color symbolizing the New Year in India,” Ganesh said. “It symbolizes prosperity, forgiveness and the triumph of good over evil.”
Despite spending most of her time handing out bags of paint to participants, she still found time to throw some at her friends.
“This is my first Holi here,” Ganesh said. “I’m really happy the students were able to experience it.”
Sophomore Sanskruti Kuravalli, co-chair of the South Asian Students Association, said she moved to the United States and was happy to share this holiday with other students.
“I moved here from India about five years ago,” Kuravalli said. “I’ve done all of these events in India. It’s really nice to have that home feeling because sometimes you get homesick.”
Kuravalli’s face was bright pink with paint as she tossed handfuls of dust at her friends.
Another South Asian Students Association member, postbac Harjyot Randhawa, was helping run the event. He moved to the United States from India in 2015 and was happy to see the event was successful.
“My community and my heritage has a very rich culture and history,” Randhawa said, “The South Asian Students Association represents that.”
Ganesh wasn’t the only one experiencing Holi for the first time. One of the newcomers was sophomore Allison Tompkins.
“I’ve heard about Holi in the past,” Tompkins said. “But I’ve never been involved in it.”
Tompkins attended the event with sophomore Sheridan Drew.
“I’ve been to a Holi festival before, and I was like, ‘Let’s do this fun thing again,’” Drew said.
Drew’s interest in South Asian culture is inspired by her mother’s love for that part of the world.
Some students were interested in learning more about South Asian culture after attending the event.
“Holi is the festival of color symbolizing the New Year in India. It symbolizes prosperity, forgiveness and the triumph of good over evil.”
Niveda Ganesh, president of South Asian Students Association
Freshman Lucy Kodish attended the event with her friends.
“We looked up Holi before we came and we would like to learn more,” Kodish said.
There was a Holi event held on campus last year. The student turnout was much better this year despite the poor weather forecast, Kuravalli said.
The club has several side events they are running, including a Bollywood dance class every Wednesday.They also host potlucks and movie nights.
Ganesh said Holi is the only major event the club will be hosting this year, however, next fall students should expect more events from the South Asian Students Association.