Holi is a Hindu spring festival that is celebrated in India and Nepal and typically falls every March. The Asian Studies program of Kean University hosted its annual Holi festival on Tuesday, April 18, 2017 at the basketball courts during college hour, 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Ways to celebrate this festival is to throw colors at each other, have a bonfire, sing and dance around the bonfire, then have an after party where people clean up and visit their friends. During this holiday, it is a custom to wear white clothes, so at the end of the festival, students are covered in colors.
At Kean, Wenzhou-Kean University Student Association with the Asian Studies program makes sure to have a day where students can celebrate Holi and throw colors at each other. Dr. Xurong Kong, associate professor and director of Chinese and the Asian Studies program under the History Department, and Dr. Nira Gupta-Casale, associate professor and faculty advisor of Sigma Tau Delta National English Honor Society.
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Dr. Kong introduced the annual event with, "Holi occurs earlier but this is the first week of spring with bright [spring] colors, so it is okay that [celebrating Holi] is happening [today]."
"It's okay celebrating now [in April], because we are observing the seasonal and social aspect," added Dr. Gupta-Casale. "Not particularly the religious aspect."
Dr. Gupta-Casale briefly explained the story behind Holi.
It is a very special and religious event where a cruel king fated to be killed by his son which in the end, the evil aunt, Holika, of the nephew was killed. Reason is, Holika was ordered by her brother to kill her nephew by tricking him into sitting on a pyre with her. Holika was actually immune to fire, but since she tried to harm someone else, Lord Vishnu saved the nephew and made the harm backfire to Holika. The Holika bonfire and Holi celebrates the triumph of good versus evil.
"In another sense, the bonfire marks the end of the winter and burns out the coldness," said Dr. Gupta-Casale.
Tables were set up with many packets of Holi powder with each color of the rainbow. Students were free to take any color and throw it at each other. The reason why throwing colors is the practice to celebrate this event, is because by throwing the powder, it represents accepting friendships and getting rid of grudges. That is why it is important to be hit with colors so love and peace can be exchanged between students.
Derek Gean, junior history secondary education double major, said, "My role in the Holi festival was to help out with the set up. [I] brought all the materials that were needed for the day [and] Dr. Kong asked me to pass around the colors. It was pretty fun throwing colors at other students and I would do it again next year...I wish more people were there. I came because I intern for the Asian Studies program and my friends were there [so] I thought I should also participate and have fun."
While Dr. Gupta-Casale began the event by throwing Holi colors in the air, more students began to gather at the basketball court to participate in the event. All those who entered were not able to leave with at least some color on them. It was very hard to avoid being covered in powder by the end of the event.
"Color me in your love!" exclaimed Dr. Gupta-Casale.
By the end of the festival, many students were staring at those who were heavily covered in colors.
"What happened here?" asked William Harrison, senior Asian Studies major and computer science minor. "Holi Festival is what happened."